Chapters One–Three

Summary: Chapter One

Percy Jackson, the main character, is a 12-year-old boy and recent student at Yancy Academy, a private school for troubled kids. His life changes dramatically after a school field trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Here, students admire ancient Greek and Roman art and share knowledge on the Greek gods. Previous field trips did not bode well for Percy after mysterious accidents occurred. On this trip, two chaperones lead the group of tweens: Mr. Brunner, the Latin teacher and Percy’s favorite, and Mrs. Dodds, the math teacher. Percy’s only friend, Grover, is on the trip as well. As the group explores the museum, Mr. Brunner approaches Percy and tells him that he holds great promise, leaving Percy perplexed with his below average grades and dyslexia. 

After an altercation with bully Nancy Bobofit at the water fountain, Percy is falsely accused of pushing her. Mrs. Dodds leads Percy deeper into the museum to punish him. As she is demanding a confession from Percy, she transforms into a Fury, a mythical creature with bat wings and yellow fangs. Mr. Brunner appears and tosses Percy a ballpoint pen that turns into a bronze sword. Percy swings the sword, striking the monster, and it turns to dust. Dazed by this experience, Percy returns back to the fountain only to discover that, in everyone else’s minds, Mrs. Dodds never existed. Grover tells him that Mrs. Kerr has always been their math teacher, leaving Percy more confused than ever. 

Summary: Chapter Two

No one seems to recall Mrs. Dodds’ existence, after Percy destroyed her, so he is even more convinced something strange is going on. Frustrated by this and other strange occurrences, his grades drop, he fights with Nancy, and then disrespects a teacher. With the end of the school year approaching, Percy is expelled from returning to Yancy Academy in the fall, but he is allowed to finish out the current school year. Percy decides the only final he will prepare for is Latin since Mr. Brunner is his favorite teacher. He approaches Mr. Brunner’s office and overhears a conversation between Mr. Brunner and Grover regarding the incident with Mrs. Dodds. They talk about magical mist making the students and staff forget the altercation. Then Grover says that Percy may be the only one who can save them from the “Kindly Ones” before the summer solstice. 

After the school year ends, Percy confronts Grover about his conversation with Mr. Brunner while riding on a bus. Grover confesses to being Percy’s protector before the bus breaks down. Off the bus, across the street, Grover and Percy see three old women knitting. Grover seems to be worried and makes Percy promise him that they will walk to Percy’s home together. Percy agrees and watches as the woman in the middle cuts a string. Back on the bus, Grover and Percy discuss the implication of what they saw. The cut signifies someone is going to die. 

Summary: Chapter Three

After arriving at the bus terminal, Percy ditches Grover and departs for home on his own. Before entering the apartment, he tells readers about his mother, Sally Jackson. She is the best person Percy knows, despite some unfortunate circumstances in her life. Percy’s father was the only great break she received although they never married, and Percy has no memories of him before he left for an ocean voyage. Sally later married Gabe, whom Percy refers to as “Smelly Gabe, the world-class jerk.” Inside the apartment, Smelly Gabe rudely welcomes Percy home and Percy storms upstairs to his bedroom. He is later comforted by his mother who gives him the exciting news about taking a trip to Montauk Beach where she met his father. As they are leaving for their trip, Smelly Gabe warns Percy not to damage his car. 

While at the beach, Sally answers some of Percy’s questions about his father. He learns that his father wanted to send him to a special camp, but Sally couldn’t bring herself to take him there. That night, a knock on the door amidst the hurricane brewing outside wakes Percy and Sally. Sally opens the door to Grover who says he has been searching all night for Percy since losing him at the bus terminal. Sally is not fazed by Grover’s presence other than why he came and demands that Percy tell her everything that happened at Yancy and at the museum. After Percy finishes telling his mother everything, the three of them run to the car where Percy notices Grover has hooves for feet.

Analysis: Chapters One–Three

Percy Jackson, the main protagonist of the story, is a 12-year-old boy who struggles with his identity and also wrestles with perceptions others have of him. Percy is unable to see his own potential; he thinks that he is a typical “bad kid” because he is always getting into trouble. He sees his learning disabilities as his weaknesses. As the adventure progresses, however, what he once saw as “weaknesses” will turn into the very characteristics that define him as a powerful demigod.

The introduction of Greek mythology adds a fantastical element to the novel. Even Percy’s name is a modern version of Perseus, the demigod son of Zeus best known for killing Medusa. As more characters are introduced—like Mrs. Dodds, who is one of three Furies—it becomes apparent that while Percy inhabits a contemporary world not unlike our own, his world possesses hidden depths.

The various allusions to Greek mythology begin to set up the conflict of the story, evoking certain well-known myths. The three women knitting are an illusion to the Fates, immortal goddesses who measure the allotted length of the lives of mortals. Their appearance suggests a life-or-death conflict, and their yarn symbolizes the lives at stake as it begins to dawn on Percy that there is more to this world, and indeed his own identity, than meets the eye.

Percy’s love for his mother underscores the theme of the importance of family, which expands as the novel progresses. Percy describes his mother as the best person he knows, and though he loves her deeply, he’s also lonely, dissatisfied with the lack of other family in his life. Percy’s animosity toward his abusive stepfather, Gabe, shows that Percy does not consider him family, and while Percy has vaguely warm memories of his real father, he is angry that such a supposedly great man left his mother.