Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

by Rick Riordan
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What is the rising action in the book Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief?

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Rising action comes after the exposition (which sets up characters, setting, and tone) and before the climax (the point of highest dramatic tension). Basically, this is where, after getting to know the hero and what their ordinary world is like, something disrupts the hero's life, and we the readers are...

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Rising action comes after the exposition (which sets up characters, setting, and tone) and before the climax (the point of highest dramatic tension). Basically, this is where, after getting to know the hero and what their ordinary world is like, something disrupts the hero's life, and we the readers are kept in suspense as to how they deal with the change.

In The Lightning Thief, the rising action consists of Percy's journey before it is revealed that Luke is the titular thief. It starts when Percy is attacked by his math teacher, who turns out to be a harpy in disguise. This act disrupts his normal everyday life and pulls him into a bigger world of intrigue and adventure. Much of the rising action encompasses Percy's journey to the Underworld, where he hopes to confront Hades about Zeus's stolen lightning bolt. He encounters several different mythical figures along the way, honing his skills and facing adversary with brains and courage; these confrontations are also part of the rising action.

The rising action of any story is filled with suspense, where the reader wonders how the hero will rise up (no pun intended) to meet the forces that oppose them. In The Lightning Thief, the suspense of the rising action makes the reader wonder, "Will Percy find the thief?", "Will he be able to prevent war from breaking out among the gods?", "Who is the friend that will betray Percy, as the oracle foretold?", and so on.

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The phrase rising action refers to the events in a narrative that create suspense, tension, and interest, and this includes all background information, characters’ decisions and flaws, etc., that lead up to the climax, or the moment of most tension, in the text. Thus, the rising action in this novel includes Percy’s experiences at Yancy Academy, his trip to Montauk with his mother, Sally, and finding out that he is a half-blood. The rising action also includes his time at Camp Half-Blood, especially including the oracle’s prophecy, his fight with Medusa, his adventures fighting Echidna and Procrustes, as well as his trip to the Underworld to meet with Hades. Percy’s awful fight with Ares, the god of war, is part of the rising action too.

The rising action culminates, then, when Luke is revealed to be the friend the oracle warned would betray Percy. It is during their conversation that Luke exposes his own motives for helping Kronos, the role that Ares played, and his reasons for wanting Percy out of the picture. As Luke’s pit scorpion inches up Percy’s leg, tension and suspense build dramatically (this is the climax, now) to the moment of the most tension in the book because it seems very possible that Percy is going to die. The scorpion stings Percy, and the reader waits to learn his fate. Once he wakes up, the falling action begins.

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