Tuesday, August 9, 2011

How to Read Literature like a Professor Assignment 5


In Rick Riordan’s The Lightning Thief, the main character finds himself thrown into a shallow creek during a camp game of capture the flag. Now, this is not any ordinary camp—after all, the book takes on the question of, “What would the world be like if Greek gods really existed?” The camp is for all of their children born of humans (the gods apparently have not changed much in two millennia). Based on Greek myth, the children of the gods are endowed with special powers, based on which happened to be their parent. However, Percy, the protagonist, has absolutely no idea who his parent was. In fact, he really had a difficult time fitting in at camp and simply felt lost and abandoned by his non-mortal parent. He was a horrible swordsman, a clumsy teen, and most tragically, an unclaimed, ashamed demigod. Fortunately, that changed when he was in the water facing the lance of a child of Ares. Suddenly the water rose up around him in a huge wave, sweeping her away. Above his head floated a blue trident, a symbol of Poseidon. Being a son of Poseidon—the son of Poseidon actually—Percy suddenly became a big deal. He then became a bigger deal because Zeus’ thunderbolts went missing about the time Percy stepped onto the scene, and the coincidence caused havoc in Olympus. In order to prevent war between the gods, newly-aware Percy chooses to go on a quest to find the thunderbolts, prove his innocence, and confront the evils responsible. In other words, before falling into a little bit of water, Percy was a frail, uncoordinated mess; afterward, he became a proud powerhouse that would make Kronos quake in fear, all the way down in Tartarus.

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