Rick Riordan Approaching Social Issues In The Percy Jackson Saga

Rick Riordan is an American author (and teacher). He is famously known for his Percy Jackson & The Olympians series. The series revolves around a teenager, Percy, who finds out that he is the son of Greek sea god, Poseidon. He goes on adventures and discovers new realms belonging to the world of Ancient Greece, hidden from the sight of mortals.

Among all of his works, Percy Jackson and The Olympians and the Heroes of Olympus series’ are my personal favorites. Apart from being knowledgeable and culturally diverse, Rick tackles typical social issues in his novels such as:

1. Gender

In action novels such as the Percy Jackson saga, it is expected that the male characters dominate the plot of the stories.

However, we see abundance of female characters adopting roles typically associated with men. We have Annabeth Chase, Hazel Levesque, Thalia Grace and many more that are chosen to lead quests, fight off villains and come to the aid of their male counterparts during battles. Apart from them, there is also Clarisse, a daughter of Ares, who is the bully of Camp Half-Blood, which is quite unusual for a girl.

Rick’s books are part of the progress towards gender equality, demonstrate in the development of the female characters that he has created. Through his works, he teaches his young female readers to be strong enough to break through traditional stereotypes that prevent them from reaching their full potentials.

Annabeth Chase by Viktoria Ridzel

2. Homosexuality

Rick Riordan introduces homosexuality in the Heroes of Olympus series which was quite a shock to many parents of readers.

Nico di Angelo, the son of Hades, reveals that he has romantic feelings for Percy in the fourth book of the series, House of Hades. Despite the criticism received, Rick should be applauded for doing this. Why?

Firstly, because he introduces the idea of homosexuality to young readers who perhaps may have been shielded from the idea by conservative parents. And secondly, Rick shows that despite being gay, Nico is still one of the most central, popular, and powerful characters in the saga.

Rick responding to a parent’s tweet about homosexuality in the House of Hades

3. Disabilities

For those who are unfamiliar with the backstory of this series, Percy Jackson was a hero that was created by Rick when he begun reading bedtime stories to his own son, Haley. Haley had dyslexia and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), which made it difficult for him to make friends and concentrate in school.

Just like Haley, most of the demigods in the stories were dyslexic and ADHD. Their brains are wired to read ancient Greek instead of English. They fidget and flinch in school because of their battle reflexes. Rick taught his son that these demigods became heroes during their quests because these differences are their advantage.

Imperfections such as these are not hardships to overcome, but flaws that allow us to celebrate our differences.

Written by Christina Hannah Bruno

BA English Language and Literature, 2nd year.

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