Study Guide

The Lightning Thief Violence

By Rick Riordan

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Man, The Lightning Thief is a nail-biter. Our narrator, Percy Jackson, really can't go three feet without encountering someone or something that wants to kill him, pronto. And he's only twelve years old. The gods can get pretty mean and bloody when they want to, and they seem to want to get mean and bloody a lot. Violence is a way of life among the gods (maybe because they can never die and, therefore, don't value mortality). Even when Percy returns the master bolt to Zeus, Zeus thanks him by telling him he will spare Percy's life for the time being. This is a dog-eat-dog (or god-eat-god) world that Percy lives in. And we're not just talking about the world of the gods; the mortal world can get pretty rough too. At the end of the novel, Percy realizes that his stepdad has been hitting his mom. Violence forms the shadow that contrasts with the light in this novel, and the light is found in Percy's friendships and in his relationship with his mother.

Questions About Violence

  1. Who tries to kill Percy in this story? Why?
  2. What will happen if Zeus's master bolt isn't returned by the summer solstice?
  3. Why is Hades angry?
  4. Why does Clarisse hate Percy?
  5. Why do monsters try to kill half-bloods?
  6. What kinds of skills do the campers at Camp Half-Blood learn and practice? Why?
  7. Does Percy have a hard time being violent and aggressive?

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