Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

by Rick Riordan

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How do Percy's experiences align with "The Hero's Journey"?

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Percy's journey reflects the archetypal hero's journey in many ways. It starts out with a young, naive innocent who believes they are simply ordinary prior to being chosen by some supernatural event. Percy has no knowledge of his abilities until his teacher reveals himself to be a mythical Fury, who...

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Percy's journey reflects the archetypal hero's journey in many ways. It starts out with a young, naive innocent who believes they are simply ordinary prior to being chosen by some supernatural event. Percy has no knowledge of his abilities until his teacher reveals himself to be a mythical Fury, who attacks him.

Percy, who is the child of a single parent, loses his mother along the journey—and being abandoned or orphaned is a common component of the journey. Percy learns soon that his father is one of the Gods of Olympus, and that he must learn to use his powers as a demigod.

He goes to the camp of half-bloods, other demigods, and has to learn to control and use his powers—under the tutelage of a wise mentor. Unfortunately, when he is tasked with setting out on his true journey to accomplish his goal, his mentor is unable to accompany him.

The Hero's Journey typically culminates with the hero coming into their own right at the pivotal or climactic moment - just prior to or during the major battle. Percy also undergoes an Ordeal, a major challenge that helps awaken his powers and strengthens his resolve, as he travels through Hades with his friends. His reluctant acceptance of destiny and coming into true acceptance of his powers are hallmarks of the Hero's Journey.

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Percy begins his journey much like any hero: unaware. Currently his normal world seems full of bad things including his ADHD and dyslexia. His mother is the only normal and consistent thing in his life that he values. All he wants is to do good by her, but he keeps coming up short. This is the "Ordinary World" in the Hero's Journey.

Suddenly his "normal" world is shaken to its core when things out of the ordinary start happening. His "teacher" attacks him, displaying her true nature as a Fury. This act launches him into his destiny and his true identity as a demigod. This is the "Call to Adventure" in the Hero's Journey.

His mother dies along his road to survival. When it is revealed that his father is a god of Olympus, he has to learn how to fight and use what he thought were disabilities to his advantage. His world has just turned completely upside-down. This is called the "Refusal to the Call" in the Hero's Journey.

Mr. Brunner, who was disguised as a teacher, is revealed to be Chiron, a seasoned mentor to various other heroes. He trains and guides Percy along the way. Chiron tells him he has a greater life ahead of him and will do great things that he has yet to even realize. This is called the "Meeting with the Mentor" in the Hero's Journey. 

Percy is claimed by his father, Poseidon. He now has a quest to venture on to procure the lightning bolt belonging to Zeus, something Percy is rumored to have stolen. He takes along with him Annabeth, daughter of Athena, and Grover, a satyr. This is called "Crossing the Threshold" in the Hero's Journey.

Along the quest, the three of them come against Medusa and various monsters. Luke Castellan, a friend of the three, guides them along the way with things he knows here and there. They find themselves going to the realm of Hades, who is more than likely the lightning bolt thief. This is called "Tests, Allies and Enemies" in the Hero's Journey. 

Annabeth, Grover and Percy come across the Chimera guarding Hades. Hades claims Percy stole his Helm of Darkness. He threatens Percy and wants his Helm returned. This is called "The Ordeal" in the Hero's Journey. 

The three manage to escape to LA and it is revealed there that Ares was the mastermind behind the whole thing. Percy challenges Ares to a duel and wins back all the things stolen. Hades receives his Helm and returns Percy's mother (who did not die, but was kidnapped) to NY. Percy and his friends bring the Lightning Bolt back to Zeus, who does not kill him, and he gets back to the camp victorious. He and his friends enjoy the rest of their summer in camp. This is a combination of "The Reward and the Road Back" in the Hero's Journey.

Percy hangs out with Luke, who suddenly turns on him. It is revealed that all along Luke was the thief of both the Lightning Bolt and the Helm of Darkness. He has been working under the orders of Kronos, lord of the Titans. Kronos also manipulated Ares to follow his orders. Luke explains his belief that the gods are poor leaders and it is time for a new reign. When Percy does not agree to join him, Luke tries to kill him. Percy manages to kill the poisonous scorpion Luke sics on him, but it pricks him before it dies. As Percy recovers, he is offered a chance to stay at the camp or go home to be with his mother. He chooses his mother, although he knows the feud with Luke is far from done. This finalizes the Hero's Journey..."The Resurrection and the Return with the Elixir."

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