Birthday post for the one and only.
My favorite character from a book/movie is rarely the main character. Percy Jackson is the exception.
I think that readers/audiences are drawn to certain types of characters portrayed in stories, and as I’ve said before, seldom the protagonist. From what I’ve observed, we love the outcasts (Nico), the psychopaths (Moriarty), the jokers (Fred & George, Leo), the badass women (Molly, Annabeth). (Of course, this isn’t always the case, but I do think that there’s a trend in character likability and solid reasoning behind this trend.) And even though the protagonist is technically the most important character, they are seldom the most interesting.
I would argue that most story’s protagonist when I was growing up followed the trend of Jason Grace or Steve Rogers, a morally righteous straight white guy who (sorry Jason lovers) is rather bland. However, our books and television are starting to portray more and more diverse characters as protagonists, and along with it, they grow to be more three-dimensional. These characters aren’t perfect, and their flaws extend beyond the consequences of being too morally headed (sorry Cap lovers).
So it’s rather interesting to me that Percy Jackson became my favorite character in the PJO series. I guess Percy does fit under the jokesters category, but beyond that, Percy does really seem to blend together with all the Jasons and Harrys.
But here’s a roughly remembered quote from Piper about Percy:
“[Piper stared at Percy, and thought that he looked rather unimpressive next to Jason.]”– My bad memory quoting Rick Riordan
It’s rather interesting to see other people’s perception of this character that we’ve been with so long. Of course, for people who have read PJO, we know that Percy is just as impressive and if not more than Jason, but from an outside stand point, the protagonist that I grew up loving, seemed imperfect.
Now, it’s just as possible that this observation shows more about Piper’s personality than Percy’s “flaws”, but we’re going to go down this road for a second.
Humor, as portrayed in books and television, is often a defensive mechanism used to protect the character wielding it (Chandler, Leo), and I think that because we only had a glimpse of Percy’s normal life before launching into all the adventure, we often forget just how bad his life had been, and to an extent, all demigods. Firstly, he never had a proper father. They weren’t rich, but I assume that they were relatively comfortable. Because of his ADHD and dyslexia, he had been expelled from a school every year, and in a kid’s mind, would definitely raise questions about whether he belonged anywhere. His mom was dating a shitty stepdad to protect him, and the only place that Percy liked going to was the beach. He definitely was not popular in school, being the new kid every year, and probably didn’t have that many friends. As I’m writing this, I’m just realizing how rough Percy’s life was, and now I’m feeling kind of sad.
I really admired Percy for the way he incorporates his moral compass into his everyday self. There’s nothing pompous or over the top about this guy, just your average good, down-to-earth person.
Percy Jackson was such a big part of my life when I was growing up (not as big as Harry Potter), and like Hogwarts, the idea of a camp full of demigods gave my imagination a field day. Today, Percy’s would be twenty six; out of college, probably still with Annabeth, who I think is in grad school for Architecture, maybe even back at Camp Half Blood to be a summer counselor. It is still summer, after all.