Percy Jackson rant: my heart belongs to Daddy

by Jasper on October 2, 2009

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I think it’s so fitting that Hades shouts something like “you were a TERRIBLE father!” when confronting Kronos at the foot of the Empire State Building in The Last Olympian. Fitting; and it’s ironic, too. As I’ve already noted elsewhere, Hades himself could probably benefit from parenting classes.

practicing safety first with parents and children

practicing safety first with parents and children

Really this war cry echoes throughout the Percy Jackson series, drives much of the plot and structures many of the characters’ personalities and actions.

Luke, Herme’s son, is completely bent out of shape by his sense of abandonment by his father who left him with his mentally broken mother. It leads him to “join the Dark Side” and thereby allows for the rise of “Darth Vadar”/Kronos. Do you think that the writer’s choice of name for this eventually-redeemed-villain was intentional?!?

Percy Jackson spends much of The Lightning Thief first figuring out who his father really is and then coming to terms with the ramifications of it. Strangely he dwells inordinately on concerns of what his father thinks of him and worries that he’s not living up to Poseidon’s expectations. This anxiety starts in book one, takes us through The Sea of Monsters, The Titan’s Curse etc. all the way to the very end of The Last Olympian. I don’t get it. Frankly, I would have been pretty pissed if my dad had waltzed into my mother’s life, had me, never bothered to get in touch until I started getting attacked by monsters, let my mother marry a complete a-hole so that she could protect me from the monsters that Daddy knew would be after me, then saddled me with this whole save-the-world business. Percy’s a hero and a saint. I’m with Luke on this one.

The other young demi-gods are all more or less in the same boat. I’ve already referred to Bianca and Nico di Angelo’s dreadful father. I feel really bad for how Clarisse’s dad, Ares, treats her so roughly. Thalia’s dad, Zeus, isn’t that nice either. He leaves her with an alcoholic mother and turns her into a tree instead of helping her out with his vast powers…a tree! It’s outrageous. Couldn’t the king of the gods have arranged something a little better for his heroine child? As bad as he is, at least Hades provided for the kids with a substantial trust fund and a private education. Yet Thalia’s embarrassed because she’s afraid of heights! The daughter of the God of Thunder can’t take to the air. It is a little embarrassing in a funny, serves-you-right kind of way. What really blows my mind is that she goes and joins up with Artemis’ ragtag adventurers to save her dad’s hyde! What does she owe the womanizing bastard?! Maybe hanging with the goddess is self-serving in part. It’s not everyone that really has taken an interest in poor Thalia’s welfare. But just like Percy, she’s a martyr for daddy’s love and affection.

Annabeth’s got some father issues going as well. Sure her mom, Athena, hasn’t been around much, but the parent that you constantly hear her gripe about is good old Dad. She runs away at seven because she feels like Pop isn’t that into her and is more fascinated by his new wife and kids. Athena, with her vast several-millennia of experience with children and their fathers, should have known that Doctor Chase was not up to the task of rearing a hero. Yet you don’t hear Annabeth criticizing momma one bit. She’s just down about Dad.

I’m very sympathetic to these abandoned and neglected children, Hades and Zeus included. It’s so unfortunate that the entire plot of the series ends up revolving around one group of kids (the gods and their children) attacking and ultimately destroying their father, Kronos (Don’t forget that Kronos is everyones father, grandfather or great-grandfather in this “happy” tale of families finding a way to just get along.)

Naturally kids want to have there parents in their lives and want to please them; but what about the parents? I think that parents really do have obligations to their children. Unfortunately, it seems so often that the parents in the Percy Jackson series reflect what really goes on in the real world. Parents make unreasonable demands of their kids; they abandon or abuse them; or they recklessly have children that they are ill-equipped to care for, or, perhaps worse, they are indifferent to. Of course the kids are damaged by this and end up doing the same kind of stuff to their own kids, and the cycle continues. It’s very sad. Too bad there’s no way for kids to hold parents accountable, the way Percy holds Zeus accountable at the end of The Last Olympian. That would be real justice.

I happened to look at the section on Rick Riordan’s web site called “books for adults.” He’s written this series about a private eye, Tres Navarre. The summary of the first book, Big Red Tequila, says that the novel is about Tres Navarre’s investigation into his father’s unsolved murder. I haven’t read Big Red Tequila or met Rick Riordan. Nevertheless, I can’t help but wonder about this father stuff and what it might mean to him?

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