The Lightning Thief: Vilifying Anarchism in the Book

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This study aims at criticizing anarchism elements of Rick Riordan Percy Jackson and The Olympians: The Lightning Thief main villain and how author vilifying anarchism as the antagonistic ideology compared to ideology that author believe. Anarchism elements of this book play an essential part which explores the plot, setting, characters and conflict; as it was planted as the ideology of villain in the story. By conducting this analysis, it could make reader understand how author misrepresented the anarchist as villain and how author establishment of class being the problem. This novel story published in United States at 2005. This analysis will try to captures the writer’s misinterpretation of anarchism in the story.


Encyclopedia Britanica Classic (2004) define novel as an invented prose narrative of considerable length and a certain complexity that deals imaginatively with human experience, usually through a connected sequence of events involving a group of persons in a specific setting. Within its broad framework, the genre of the novel has encompassed an extensive range of types and styles: picaresque, epistolary, Gothic, romantic, realist, historical—to name only some of the more important ones.

Novel sequence is a series of books having certain characteristics in common that are formally identified together as a group. Novel sequence, in different ways could be organized as written by the same author, or marketed as a group by their publisher. The improvement of understanding literary works as one of creative skill should be mastered by students.

Anarchy was universally used as a word for sense of disorder and confusion; and it is to this day used in that sense by the uninformed as well as by political opponents with an interest in distorting the truth, while Anarchism (from the Greek an- and arche, contrary to authority)is the name given to form of a principle or theory of life and conduct without government — harmony in such a society being obtained, not by submission to law, or by obedience to any authority, but by joint agreements concluded freely between the various groups, territorial and professional, free constitution of production and consumption as the focus, as also for the satisfaction of the infinite variety of needs and aspirations of a civilised being (Errico Malatesta, 1981).

Anarchist Literature Criticism

According to Anarchist and other scholars, in fact, literature reflects those social conditions of institution out of which it emerges and is itself a social institution with a particular ideological function that create a state. Class struggle and materialism reflected on literatures as state of mind on the frequency of characters quest for beyond justice and equality for both wealth and law. So Anarchist generally view literature ‘not as works created in accordance with timeless artistic criteria, but as ‘products’ of the human reason and justice.’ (Bakunin,1867-1872). Literature reflects an author’s own class or analysis of class relations, however piercing or shallow that analysis may be.

Research Method

The Anarchist critic simply is a careful reader or viewer who keeps in mind issues of power and authority, and any of the following kinds of questions:

  1. What does class play role in the work of author’s?
  2. How do characters overcome the opposing divine authority?
  3. In what ways does the work try to undermine the character who opposed to authority? Is it considered as propaganda?

The Author

Rick Riordan is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of over twenty novels for young readers, including the Percy Jackson series, the Kane Chronicles, the Magnus Chase series and the Trials of Apollo. He is also the author of the multi-award-winning Tres Navarre mystery series for adults.

For fifteen years, Rick taught English and history at public and private middle schools in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Texas. While teaching in San Antonio, Saint Mary’s Hall honored him with the school’s first Master Teacher Award. While teaching full time, Riordan began writing mystery novels for grownups. His Tres Navarre series went on to win the top three national awards in the mystery genre – the Edgar, the Anthony and the Shamus. Riordan turned to children’s fiction when he started The Lightning Thief as a bedtime story for his oldest son.

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Today, eighty-six million copies of his books are in print in the United States, and rights have been sold into more than 37 countries.Rick Riordan now writes full-time. He lives in Boston with his wife and two sons.

Book Summary

Twelve-year-old Percy Jackson is on the most dangerous quest of his life. With the help of a satyr and a daughter of Athena, Percy must journey across the United States to catch a thief who has stolen the original weapon of mass destruction — Zeus’ master bolt. Along the way, he must face a host of mythological enemies determined to stop him. Most of all, he must come to terms with a father he has never known, and an Oracle that has warned him of betrayal by a friend.

Role of Class in the Story

There are clear differences in class, the sides that have power like gods as literal divine authority and the sides that had to abdicate to the other side. It even depicted that every god has a symbol of power, something that represents their unique gifts and abilities. Ares has a shield, Poseidon has a trident, and Hades has a helm of darkness. These objects are more than just decoration – they are the means by which each god rules which the non-god can’t defy. As the Zeus master bolt disappearance causes the story main conflict serve roundabout way for subliminal message that the symbol of anarchism and deserve punishment out of the divine authority ego after losing his power. The main antagonist in the story is also clearly depicted as an anarchist since he come from non-ruling class, rejects the principle of authority, denied free will and ends in the establishment of liberty.

The Main Antagonist

Luke Castellan is the main antagonist of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief. When protagonist arrives at Camp Half-Blood and briefly joins the Hermes Cabin, Luke pretends to be his friend and is successful in earning his trust as he is reliable and the cabin counselor that have authority over the Hermes cabin. When Percy gets a quest to retrieve Zeus’s lightning bolt along with Annabeth and Grover, Luke gives him a pair of winged sneakers he used for his failed quest. Later, the protagonists reach Tartarus, which was the pit where the gods cast their enemies. The winged sneakers began to drag Grover to the pit because he was wearing them. Grover manages to get them off, and they escape before Kronos can pull them in.

Later, after the lightning bolt is retrieved, and Percy is back at camp, Luke admits to Percy that he stole Zeus’s lightning bolt, framed Poseidon, and enchanted the winged sneakers to drag the wearer into Tartarus. He sets a pit scorpion on Percy, which stung him. Luke flees, and Percy is barely saved by the other campers.

Overcoming Divine Authority

Luke tried to rebel against the divine authority of Zeus. He think only great and omnipotent authority, at once natural and rational, the only one we respect, will be that of the collective and public spirit of a society founded on equality and solidarity and the mutual respect of all its members instead of the current divine authority that ignore his prayer. He attempt to eliminate hierarchic order and advancement that divine authority create by having himself serves Kronos who is planning to defeat the Olympians and get rid of them. His action of defying god himself can also be hostility to hierarchy as he rejected the state and religion that has betrayed him before. As his attempt failed, he vanishes, leaving a deadly scorpion to the protagonist.

Undermining Value of Anarchism

As the story goes from start to the end, we can see that author made the character Luke; as a deceitful, vile and vengeful antagonist. His hostility towards hierarchy and his wish to make the hierarchic order and advancement doesn’t exist injected with author prejudice against anarchist; where their reason of hostility towards authority must be something like their own dissatisfaction and their rage is controlled by a hidden supporter that want to abolish the current authority when the fault is simply within the gods, their demigods, and their oracle, their messiahs and their saints, that created by the credulous fancy of authority who had not attained the full development and full possession of their faculties. The current authority don’t have the capacity of being omnipotent authority, at once natural and rational and the one anarchist can respect; which is the collective and public spirit of that capable of equality and solidarity instead of a tyrant who stand above all.

Percy Jackson and The Olympians: The Lightning Thief and Propaganda

While we can’t really find propaganda within story towards some ideologies, based on evidence and the author origins; we can be sure that author using anarchism as well as vilifying it because of his belief in state and religion.


This study will help people to understand about how anarchism vilified because of the opposition misconception of anarchism. The author of Percy Jackson and The Olympians: The Lightning Thief is one of the example of the author who misunderstand the concept of anarchism and creating an equation between anarchism and chaotic state. First, we understand the view of the author of Percy Jackson and The Olympians: The Lightning Thief conscience about anarchism shown on how he created character Luke as deceitful and vengeful towards the gods. Second, we clear the misconception with this literary criticism with comparing the misconception part with the actual anarchism concept.


  1. Riordan, Rick (2006). The Lightning Thief. New York, NY: Hyperion Books for Children.
  2. Bakunin, M. A., & Kenafick, K. J. (2004). Marxism, Freedom and The State. Whitefish, MT: Kessinger.
  3. Bakounine, M. A. (1970). God and The State. New York: Dover Publications.
  4. Bakunin, M. A., & Shatz, M. (2005). Statism and Anarchy. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  5. Basic Bakunin. (1993). Paterson New Jersey: Paterson Anarchist Collective.
  6. Guérin, D. (1998). No Gods No Masters: An Anthology of Anarchism. Edinburgh: AK Press.
  7. Malatesta, E., & Richards, V. (1993). Errico Malatesta: His Life and Ideas. London: Freedom Press.
  8. Sparks, K. J. (2004). Encyclopedia Britannica 2004: Book of the Year. Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica.
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