The Hero’s Journey in Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief

One of my favorite book series is Percy Jackson and the OlympiansThe first book in that series is Percy Jackson and the Lightning ThiefI recently realized that it follows “The Hero’s Journey” writing formula. This formula is used across many types of stories and may be used without the storyteller even realizing it. The formula follows the pattern of the Ordinary World, the Call to Adventure, the Refusal of the Call, Crossing the Threshold, Facing Tests, Allies, and Enemies,  the Ordeal, The Supreme Ordeal, and the Reward and Journey Home.

The ‘Ordinary World’ for Percy Jackson is going to the Boarding school called Yancy Academy. Percy has Dyslexia and ADHD, and he has only been able to stay in the same school for about a year for the last few years. Percy’s only friend is Grover Underwood, who was a satyr but Percy didn’t know that yet. He doesn’t know he is a demigod yet (a half-human half-god). The ‘Call to Adventure’ happens on a field trip to a museum. He accidentally uses his powers when a classmate makes fun of him. His math teacher, Mrs. Dodds, called him inside to talk to him. Then she turned into a fury (a creature of the underworld) and tried to kill Percy. Percy’s other teacher, Mr. Brunner (who was actually Chiron but Percy didn’t know that yet) came in and threw him a pen that turned into a sword. Percy used the sword to kill Mrs. Dodds.

The ‘Refusal of the Call’ was right before he went to Camp Half-Blood. After he made Mrs. Dodds go back to Tartarus, he didn’t really believe what had happened. He didn’t think it was real. Mr. Brunner didn’t say anything about it and no one remembered a teacher named Mrs. Dodds. A few days later, Grover, Percy’s mother, and Percy were in the car driving to the camp while being chased by a minotaur. The car flipped and Grover got knocked out. Percy tried to help him get past the camp boundaries, but the minotaur had found his mom. Percy fought, and (since monsters don’t die) he managed to make it go back to Tartarus. When Percy killed the minotaur, it took his mom with it. This made Percy realize he had to accept what had happened. 

‘Crossing the Threshold’ could be when Percy crossed into Camp Half-Blood. He quite literally crossed the threshold. As he was crossing into the camp, he was also crossing into a new life. He would never be able to go back to the way things were. He found out he was a demigod, his father was Poseiden, the god of the sea, and there were many other kids like him. Having ADHD was normal, because he was hardwired for battle, and because of having dyslexia, he could read ancient Greek. Percy’s mentor was actually someone he knew before. His teacher Mr. Brunner was really a centaur named Chiron. He was an immortal centaur who had trained Heracles and many other Greek heroes.

The ‘Ordeal’ was when Percy, Annabeth, and Grover went to the underworld to try to get Zeus’s Master Bolt back (it had been stolen and Percy was blamed). It was a very dangerous thing, for three living people to be in the underworld. The ‘Supreme Ordeal’ happened after the trio got out of the underworld. The god Ares was there, and they had just realized that he had given Zeus’s lightning bolt to them earlier in the book. Percy actually fought the god sword to sword. This was even more dangerous than going into the underworld.

These are only a few of the examples of how Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief follows ‘The Hero’s Journey’. I love this book, but the movie wasn’t very good at all. Though they both would correspond with ‘The Hero’s Journey’, the stories aren’t very similar.

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