I'm reading the novel Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief for my literature class and was trying to use the characterisation framework of PAIRS (Physical appearance, Actions, Inner Thought, Reactions of Others and Speech) to understand how Percy is portrayed in Chapter 1.

However, I noticed that he addresses the reader directly at the start of the novel by saying things like "If you're reading this because you think you might be one...." and "Don't say I didn't warn you".

I'm kind of confused as to whether this is considered speech or thought. Since Percy is addressing the reader, could this be considered speech? But since he is writing it down and not saying anything out loud, is it considered his inner thoughts?

  • 1
    What difference would it make to your enjoyment or understanding of the book? Essentially, what does it matter?
    – Chenmunka
    Oct 15, 2021 at 10:49
  • It's narration.
    – Stuart F
    Oct 23, 2021 at 13:26

2 Answers 2


PAIRS is intended to help you direct your attention to specific methods a text may use to reveal what a character is like. Essentially, it tells you not to overlook (1) what a character looks like, (2) how they behave, (3) what they think, (4) how they react to the statements or actions by other characters and (5) what they say. It gives students a kind of checklist of things they shouldn't overlook when analysing a character. A character usually does not address the reader directly; a narrator may do that, but a novel's narrator is not necessarily a character in the novel. The descriptions of PAIRS on Study.com and FindAnyAnswer.com assume that characters don't directly address the reader, so the question whether a character's address to the reader is an instance of thought or speech is not very important.

So is Percy's address to the reader speech or thought? If that question causes problems, the PAIRS framework is getting in the way of the student rather than being helpful. However, when writing an assignment based on the framework, the question can be decided by distinguishing between (a) statements a character makes to other characters (i.e. speech) and (b) "statements" that are revealed only to the reader (i.e. both thoughts and addresses to the reader).


There is no completely correct way to decide if a first-person narrator addressing a reader is speech or thought, at least not without further contextualising that communication. Does the text provide information about where, when, how and why the narrator is speaking to the presumed reader? For example, some stories are actually a transcription of a person in reality talking to someone else, like a grandparent telling a story by a fireplace to some children. Other times, like in James Joyce’s Ulysses, it is clear from the way the story is told that the book is a representation of phenomena - the phenomena of thoughts flooding past in a person’s mind - but that within the fictional reality the text creates, the reader of that text is not actually present. In other words, the reader is “secretly” peering in to the mind of a character, and the character has no idea. In your mentioned novel, you have to consider for yourself if the main character is speaking to someone through writing - perhaps a letter - or spoke these words to someone they met later on, after the events of the story - or in an implied way knows that the reader is reading the events in a book which presents the character’s thoughts. Then you can decide if the narration is thought or speech.

  • 1
    The question is clear about how this isn't about the general case, but instead about the specific case at the beginning of Percy Jackson. Therefore bringing up other novels isn't relevant. Nor does this answer address the actual question asked.
    – bobble
    Oct 21, 2021 at 17:22

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