Study Guide

Phaeton Identity

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The story of Phaeton can be seen as his quest for identity. He's always thought of himself as a demigod, meaning that one of his parents is a god. This sets Phaeton apart from those around him and makes him feel mad good about himself. When another kid tells him he's not really the son of Helios, the boy is thrown for a loop. His whole identity is put in question. When Helios confirms that he is in fact his son (Maury would love this), Phaeton goes even further to claim the identity of the son of the sun by trying to drive his Daddy's gleaming chariot. Unfortunately, he just doesn't have to skills to pay the bills, and Phaeton's quest for identity ends up destroying him.

Questions About Identity

  1. Why do you think Phaeton's identity is so threatened when he's told he might not really be the son of Helios?
  2. Do you think Helios feels more compelled by his godly duties or his duties as a father?
  3. Do you think it's important to Clymene that her son maintain the status of demigod? Why, or why not?
  4. Why is being the son of a god so important to Phaeton's identity?

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