Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

by Rick Riordan

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What is the main conflict in Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief?

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The main conflict in Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief is the external conflict between Percy and the mysterious, unknown villain who has stolen the master lightning bolt from the god Zeus. Furthermore, there is the internal conflict between Percy and his own identity, as he struggles to come to terms with his status as a demigod.

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The Lightning Thief is the first part of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, and is a soft fantasy narrative that deals with our modern world colliding with the world of ancient Greek gods. The protagonist, Percy Jackson, is involved in two primary conflicts. The first is external. Percy, who is revealed to be the forbidden demigod son of Poseidon, receives an oracle that commands him to search for the unidentified thief of Zeus's master lightning bolt. He is tasked with preventing a war between the gods. This quest takes him to many locations, including the very gate of Hades's realm itself. In the course of the quest, he has to reconsider both friends and enemies alike before finally uncovering the truth.

The second conflict is internal, and deals with Percy coming to terms with the nature of his identity. Percy is a misfit in many regards. Before he was aware of his status, he struggled in school due to ADHD and dyslexia. While these are revealed to be mere by-products of his demigod status, he suffers a greater identity crisis upon realizing that he is part of the contentious struggle between the gods. Siring offspring has been forbidden for the greater gods, like Poseidon, for a number of years. Percy must grow into himself and gain confidence and self-assurance before he can resolve the strife of the gods.

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The main conflict in this novel is that Percy Jackson must find and return Zeus's stolen thunderbolt to avert a war among the gods that Zeus will start with Poseidon if his thunderbolt is not returned by the summer solstice.

Because these wars play out among humans—we find out that World War II was really a war between the gods—it is imperative for Percy to find the thunderbolt and find it fast.

Therefore, he goes to Los Angeles (where the entrance to the underworld is located), sure that Hades must have stolen the thunderbolt. When he gets there, he finds that he has been tricked. Hades does not have the thunderbolt, but now Percy has another problem: Hades believes Percy stole his helm of darkness. Hades has Percy's mother and won't give her back until Percy returns the helm of darkness. Percy faces two conflicts: finding and returning Zeus's bolt (and battling all the creatures that will try to prevent this) and likewise finding and returning the helm. Otherwise there will be a major war, and his mother will be trapped in the underworld. Percy, in other words, has his hands very full for a twelve-year-old.

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Percy Jackson is a twelve-year old who hates his stepfather and loves his mother. He also finds out he is a demigod, half human and half god. The problems are endless for Percy which creates many conflicts. The main conflict is that Zeus's lightning bolt has been stolen, and Poseidon, Percy's father, is the suspect. Percy has to return the bolt before the Summer Solstice and has help from his friends, Grover, a satyr and Annabeth, daughter of Athena.

Percy and his mother are ambushed by a Minotaur, yet another conflict, and his mother is kidnapped and taken to the Underworld, Hades. Percy has to rescue his mother as well. To make matters worse, the gods are warring with each other creating even more conflict. Percy Jackson faces one conflict after another.

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The primary conflict which drives the action of the novel is that Percy must find and return the stolen master bolt to Zeus, king of the gods.  He receives a hero's quest from the oracle at Camp Half-Blood that he must "go west, and face the god who has turned [...] find what was stolen, and see it safely returned" (141). 

As Percy accepts this quest and leaves to find Hades and the Underworld, he encounters many dangerous monsters and threats that attempt to deter him from reaching his goal.  Percy knows that the stakes are high for him to find and return the bolt, for if he fails at his task, Chiron predicts "western civilization turned into a battleground so big, it will make the Trojan War look like a water-balloon fight" (138).

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What is the climax of Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief?

Percy Jackson and the Olympian: The Lightning Thief is a story that follows a fairly typical heroic journey. Readers are introduced to a character, Percy, who is anything but heroic in stature or confidence. He is given a call to action, special powers, and knowledgeable companions to help him develop into a hero.

With all of those pieces in place, it is time for Percy to begin stepping into his hero role. This means that the story begins telling readers about a variety of increasingly difficult and scary rising actions. Percy's quest has him fighting monsters like Medusa. He and his friends nearly lose their memories in an enchanted Las Vegas casino, and they are nearly stretched to death. Percy then has to descend into the Underworld, and this is where the climax begins.

Percy and Hades accuse each other of having the master bolt, and the master bolt unexpectedly appears in Percy's backpack during his conversation with Hades. Hades is justifiably upset; Percy is lucky to escape his wrath. He, Annabeth, and Grover then meet Ares on the Santa Monica beach. It turns out that Ares stole the master bolt. Percy and Ares have a battle. Percy wins, and the story moves into the falling actions of Percy returning the helm of darkness to Hades and meeting Poseidon and Zeus.

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What are some conflicts in Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan?  

One example of conflict in the text is the antagonism between Percy and Nancy Bobofit at Yancy Academy.  They've had a history of poking at each other, literally and figuratively, but at the art museum, things come to a head.  Percy says, "I don't remember touching her, but the next thing I knew, Nancy was sitting on her butt in the fountain, screaming, 'Percy pushed me!'"  This episode helps to lead to his expulsion from school.

Then, of course, there's the conflict between Percy and Mrs. Dodds (one of the Furies), after the conflict with Nancy.  He says, "The look in her eyes was beyond mad.  It was evil," and she proceeded to attack him.  Were it not for the pen/sword that Mr. Brunner tossed to Percy, he would likely have followed Mrs. Dodds' orders to "'Die, honey!'"

Once he arrives at camp, it doesn't take long for Percy to conflict with Clarisse, daughter of Ares.  When they play capture the flag, she says, "'we don't care about the flag.  We care about a guy who made our cabin look stupid.'"  She tries to skewer him with her electrified spear, and one of her half-brothers slashes Percy's arm with his sword, leaving him for dead.  Luckily, the water he collapses in restores him. 

One of the most important conflicts of the novel is the one between Percy and Luke.  Percy has been told by the oracle, "You will be betrayed by one who calls you a friend," and this comes to pass when Luke betrays Percy.  Once Percy realizes this, he accuses Luke, who "stood calmly and brushed off his jeans" while the scorpion he called up creeps slowly up Percy's leg.  Luke finally tells him, "'Good-bye, Percy.  There is a new Golden Age coming.  You won't be part of it.'"  He thinks that Percy should be willing to abandon the Olympians, as he has, and work with Kronos to begin a new world order.

There are also conflicts between Percy and his step-father, the Minotaur, Medusa, Annabeth, Echidna, Ares, Hades, Zeus, even Percy himself (consider when he must decide on whom to use the pearls when he's in the Underworld).  The novel is riddled with conflicts involving poor Percy!

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