Propp's Narrative Structure in Rick Riordan's The Son of Neptune ...

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Rick Riordan's The Son of Neptune tells about a war between gods and demigods against Titans. This study is aimed to give understanding to the readers about ...

Propp’s Narrative Structure in Rick Riordan’s The Son of Neptune

Zaky Alami Abstract: Alami, Zaky. Propp’s Narrative Structure in Rick Riordan’s The Son of Neptune. Thesis. English Study Program of Faculty of Social and Cultural Sciences, University of Trunojoyo Madura. Advisors: (I) Erika Citra Sari Hartanto, S.S, M.Hum. (II) Rosyida Ekawati, S.S, M.A. Rick Riordan’s The Son of Neptune tells about a war between gods and demigods against Titans. This study is aimed to give understanding to the readers about the narration. According to Propp’s functional theory used in this study, the theory is divided into two parts. Those are thirty one functions of dramatis personae and seven spheres of actions. This study is conducted by using qualitative design since the data are taken without any change and described in form of words. It is concluded that there is only one function missing. By finding the availability of those functions, a scheme of narrative structure can be structured. Further, all spheres of actions can be found in the novel. Key Words: Propp, functional theory, thirty one functions of dramatis personae, seven spheres of actions. INTRODUCTION As Klarer stated that to this day, novel still maintains its leading position as the genre products the most innovation in literature (2004: 11). It shows that among the three other genres of literary works people are mostly interested in novel. One of famous novels read by children and people in twenty first century is Rick Riordan’s The Son of Neptune. Rick Riordan’s The Son of Neptune is chosen because the novel consists of mythological tales while its storyline has similarity with a folktale. Therefore, it is appropriate to apply Propp’s functional theory in the novel. Propp’s functional theory is used to analyze folktale but there is a recommendation that the theory can also be applied in other forms beside folktale. As Scott argues that Propp’s analysis should be useful in analyzing the structure



of literary form (such as novels and plays), comic strips, motion picture and television plot, and the like (1968:3). Narrative structure is chosen because the narrative structure can give more understanding about storyline in Riordan’s The Son of Neptune. Actions of the characters are extremely important in this study because as Propp suggested that characters took on the role of narrative sphere of actions or functions. Scott implies that Propp’s theory is the first and the landmark which inspires other experts in analyzing narrative structure. Propp took around 100 folktales and identified them based on the acts of the characters that build plot of the story. As the result of his analysis he generally formulated narrative structure into thirty one functions of dramatis personae. The theory is explained deeply in Propp’s book Morphology of the Folktale written 1928 which is later translated into English by Laurence Scott in 1968. Propp (1968: 12) stated that the series of functions given below represents the morphological foundation of folktales in general. Therefore few functions of dramatis personae may not be found in this study. The functions are mentioned below. 1.

Absentation (β).

16. Struggle (H).


Interdiction (γ).

17. Marking (J).


Violation (δ).

18. Victory (I).


Reconnaissance (ε).

19. Liquidation (K).


Delivery (δ).

20. Return (↓).


Trickery (ε).

21. Pursuit (Pr).


Complicity (ζ).

22. Rescue (Rs).

8.1. Villainy (A).

23. Unrecognized arrival (o).

8.2. Lack (α).

24. Unfounded claims (L).


25. Difficult task (M).

Mediation (B).

10. Counteraction (C).

26. Solution (N).

11. Departure (↑).

27. Recognition (Q).

12. Donor (D).

28. Exposure (Ex).

13. The hero’s reaction (E).

29. Transfiguration (T).


14. Receipt of a magical agent (F).

30. Punishment (P).

15. Spatial Transference (G).

31. Wedding (W).

Thirty one functions of dramatis personae are distributed among seven spheres of actions corresponding to their respective performers. Spheres of actions mean categories of the characters based on the actions they do in the story. 1.

The villain


The donor


The helper


The princess and her father


The dispatcher


The hero


The false hero

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY Qualitative study was applied in this study. In qualitative study, the writer himself was the key instrument. It means that everything was done by the writer himself. The writer had to take the data as they were and the data might not be added, cut, manipulated, or something else. The data that were used in this study are utterances of the characters and narrator’s explanations in the novel while Source of data of this study was Rick Riordan’s The Son of Neptune. There were steps in method of collecting data. They were reading, classifying, coding, and displaying.

FINDINGS AND DISCUSSIONS 1 Absentation (β) a. Frank loses his mother (β.1). After his mother’s funeral, Frank leaves his family and joins Camp Jupiter (P.104).


b. Hazel loses her mother (β.2). When she is asked by her mother to Alaska, both she and her mother can’t survive. They sacrifice themselves to delay the awakening of the Titans and return of Gaea’s power (P.211). 2 Interdiction (γ) a. Pluto asks Hazel and her mother not to go to Alaska (γ.1). Hazel’s mother wants to go to Alaska along with her daughter. Pluto appears to tell them not to go because it is Gaea’s trap. Unfortunately they ignore what Pluto speaks (P. 79). b. Iris tells Frank not to hurt any harpy (γ.2). When Iris recommends Frank to find Phineas, he may meet half woman and half bird creature called harpy. She tells him not to hurt the harpy because one of the harpies is her sister (P.248). 3 Violation (δ) a. Hazel and her mother go to Alaska (δ). As Pluto has told Hazel and her mother that going to Alaska is Gaea’s trap, Hazel and her mother still go to Alaska. As the result, they meet their death (P. 79-80).

4 Reconnaissance (ε) a. Gorgons keep attacking Percy to find out the way to kill him (ε). Two snake-haired ladies named Euryale and Stheno intend to kill Percy. Therefore those gorgons keep attacking Percy until they know the way to kill this son of Neptune (P.3). 5 Delivery (δ) a. Gorgons know the way to kill Percy (δ). Percy and Gorgons have already fought for two days so they know that soon Percy will fall because of his exhaustion (P. 4).


6 Trickery (ε) a. Phineas asks Percy, Hazel, and Frank to capture Ella (ε). After telling Phineas their destination, Phineas agrees to give them the location of Alcyoneus’ lair in one condition. He wants to give the information if they can bring a red harpy named Ella (P.276). 7 Complicity (ζ) a. Percy, Frank, and Hazel have to bring Ella to Phineas (ζ). Percy, Frank, and Hazel have no choice but to bring her to him. At last they bring Ella to Phineas but they are going to offer him something more interesting than Ella (P.290) 8.1 Villainy (A) a. Alcyoneus captures Thanatos (A.1) Mars shows up on Camp Jupiter to inform that Thanatos is captured by Alcyoneus (P.146), (P.169). b. Alcyoneus attacks Hazel (A.2). Hazel personally wants to deal with Alcyoneus. Unfortunately Alcyoneus has significant attack more than Hazel has because of the difference of their strength (P.459). c. Polybotes attacks Percy (A.3). When Polybotes and Percy meet on battlefield, Polybotes challenges Percy in one in one fight. Polybotes attacks Percy with his deadly and poisonous attack (P.487). 8.2 Lack (α) a. Percy loses his memories (α). Juno steals Percy’s memories in a reason. Percy’s memories are stolen because it is Juno’s plan to send Percy to save Camp Jupiter (P.4).


9 Mediation (B) a. Percy, Frank, and Hazel are sent for a quest (B). Mars, the god of war directly orders Roman to send Frank Zhang to find and set free Thanatos (P.146). 10 Counteraction (C) a. Percy, Frank, and Hazel accept the quest (C). Mars has directly given an order to release Thanaos to Roman legions and they choose Percy, Frank, and Hazel. They accept the quest because they believe they can do that (176). 11 Departure (↑) a. Percy, Frank, and Hazel leave Camp Jupiter (↑). After the legions agree that Percy, Frank, and Hazel are chosen to go releasing Thanatos, they go by a boat (P.193).

12 Donor (D) a. Reyna tests Percy in interrogation (D). After Juno presents Percy at Camp Jupiter, Reyna invites him to her camp. She has several questions for Percy (P.35). 13 Hero’s Reaction (E) a. Percy answers Reyna’s questions except one thing (E.1). When Percy come in Reyna’s camp, he is questioned several questions by her. He answers every Reyna’s question except one thing about Annabeth (P.36). 14 Receipt of a Magical Agent (F) a. Anyone who dies will stay dead (F). After he burns the last chain that chains Thanatos, the death has been released. In this case the giant and monsters that they face can be killed (P.458). 15 Spatial Transference (G) a. Juno leads Percy, Frank, and Hazel to use a tunnel (G).


Percy led by Juno keeps running toward a tunnel. When they run deeper in the tunnel, the tunnel begins to change like a track to another dimension (P.21). 16 Struggle (H) a. Hazel vs. Alcyoneus (H.1). Hazel wants Alcyoneus as the one she opposes (P.453). b. Frank sets free Thanatos (H.2). Frank has to melt five chains that chain Thanatos and he hoped that his life is enough to burn the fire of life and melt all of those chains of death (P.454).

c. Percy vs. Shadowy Ghosts (H.3). While Frank is burning to melt the chains that chained Thanatos, Percy stands beside him to protect Frank from any attack done by the shadowy ghosts (P.454). d. Percy vs Polybotes (H.4). Percy knows that Polybotes is born to oppose his father, Neptune. Percy personally challenges Polybotes in battle and his challenge is gladly accepted by Polybotes (P.487).

17 Marking (J) a. Reyna gives Percy her ring (J.1). Reyna gives Percy her ring that Percy can show it to her when they meet. The ring will recognize Hylla that Percy is an ally (P.184). b. A sign appears on Percy’s hand (J.2). When Roman and Amazons are declaring the victory, roman symbols appeared on Percy’s arm (P.495).

18 Victory (I) a. Frank defeats Alcyoneus (I.1).


Once they are out of Alaska, Frank turns himself into a giant elephant and gives Alcyoneus his best attack that makes Alcyoneus collapse (P.468). b. Percy defeat shadowy ghosts (I.2). Percy decides to destroy the ice where they are fighting. The ice begins to collapse and makes Percy fall into the sea together with the ghosts and some buildings (P.470). c. Percy defeat Polybotes (I.3). Percy uses Therminus’ head to hit Polybotes as hard as he can and Polybotes is killed (P.492). 19 Liquidation (K) a. Percy’s memories completely return (K). After Alcyoneus has been defeated, his memories completely return (P.474). 20 Return (↓) a. Percy, Frank, and Hazel return to Camp Jupiter (↓). When Percy, Frank, and Hazel had release Thanatos, defeats Alcyoneus, and retrieve the golden eagle, they have to return back to Camp Jupiter (P.476). 21 Pursuit (Pr) a. Gorgons pursue Percy (Pr). Percy knows that his battle against gorgons doesn’t have any advantage; he decides to run away from them. Unfortunately, those gorgons also run and pursue him (P.14). 22 Rescue (Rs) a. Frank and Hazel rescue Percy from Gorgons (Rs.1). Juno leads Percy to go to an entrance of the tunnel guarded by Frank and Hazel. They shoot gorgons behind Percy (P.20).


23 Unrecognized Arrival (o) It is not found in the story. 24 Unfounded Claims (L) a. Octavian wants Ella (L). Octavian uses prophecies to keep his power. He wants Ella because she memorizes every page of the book of prophecy that has been burnt (P.505).

25 Difficult Task (M) a. Percy wants to obtain back the golden eagle (M.1). Percy is brave enough to speak that he, Frank, and Hazel are going to get back the golden eagle (P.168-169). b. Percy, Frank, and Hazel are sent to release Thanatos (M.2). As long as Thanatos is being chained by a giant named Alcyoneus, the killed enemy will be brought back to live (P.183-184). 26 Solution (N) a. Percy retrieves the Golden Eagle (N.1). Percy defeats the troop and grabbed the golden eagle. Now he has retrieved the symbol of Roman legions (P.456). b. Thanatos is released (N.2). Thanatos. Frank has to burn himself to melt all chains which it costs his own life. Finally he can melt those all chains and release Thanatos (P.457).

27 Recognition (Q) a. Percy’s necklace (Q.1). Reyna knows him from the necklace worn by Percy which reminds her one of persons who destroys her home in the past (P.38). b. Percy’s ring given by Reyna (Q.2). During the quest, the Amazons queen recognizes the ring worn by Percy (P.322).


28 Exposure (Ex) a. Alcyoneus is born to oppose Pluto (Ex.1). Alcyoneus says with disapproval expression that he is immortal in his homeland, Alaska. It is because Alcyoneus is born to oppose Pluto, the god of underworld and the lord of death. (P.466). b. Polybotes is born to oppose Neptune (Ex.2). Polybotes challenges Percy Jackson to deal in one in one fight. At that time, Polybotes uses disapproval expression to challenge Percy (P.487). 29 Transfiguration (T) a. Frank turns to a giant elephant (T). It is the first time Frank uses his power and he turns himself to a giant elephant to push Alcyoneus out of Alaska (P.467). 30 Punishment (U) a. Hazel executes Alcyoneus (U.1). Once Alcyoneus has been defeated by Frank, Hazel told him that she wants to kill the giant by herself (P.468). b. Percy kills Polybotes (U.2). By working together between Percy and Terminus, they can defeat Polybotes (P.492). 31 Wedding (W) a. Percy becomes one of the Praetors (W.1). Percy’s achievement after winning the war is the throne as praetor (P. 502).


b. Frank and Hazel are given precious gift by their father (W.2). The following day after their victory, Frank and Hazel are given gift by their father. Frank gets a book entitled Sun Tsu’s The Art of war while Hazel has new life (P. 503), (P. 504). Those functions are then arranged into narrative structure according to the functions and arranged into a scheme. ε – δ – α – Pr – Rs – G – D – E – Q.1 – γ.1 – δ – β.1 – A.1 – B – M.1 – C – M.2 – J.1 – ↑ – β.2 – γ.2 – ε – ζ – Q.2 – H.1 – H.2 – H.3 – N1 – N.2 – F – A.2 – Ex.1 – T – I.1 – U.1 – K – ↓– A.3 – H.4 – Ex.2 – I.3 – U.2 – J.2 – W.1 – W.2 – L. After finding those thirty one functions of dramatis personae the characters will be divided into seven spheres of actions. Those spheres of actions will be explained below. 1 The Villain The characters included as the villains are Gaea, Alcyoneus, Polybotes, Euryale, Stheno, Basilisks, Gegenes, Centaurs, Cyclopes, Phineas, Ogres, and Shadowy ghosts. 2 The Donor The characters included as the donors are Juno, Mars, Reyna, Hylla, Frank’s grandmother, and Terminus. 3 The Helper The characters included as the helpers are Frank, Hazel, Juno, Arion, Iris, Terminus, Hylla, and Tyson. 4 Princess and her father The character included as the princess is Thanatos while the father is not founded in the story. 5 The Dispatcher The characters included as the dispatchers are Octavian, Reyna, Iris, and Frank’s grandmother. 6 The Hero The characters included as the heroes are Percy, Frank, and Hazel.


7 The False Hero The character included as the false hero is Octavian.

CONCLUTIONS AND SUGGESTIONS From the explanations above it is concluded that Propp’s functional theory can be applied well in the novel, although Unrecognized Arrival (o) can’t be found. Further in seven spheres of actions, it is concluded that one character can be involved in several spheres of actions and several spheres can be involved in one sphere. It is suggested to the reader who wants to apply the same theory to other literary works consist of mythological or heroic theme or both of those themes. It is also suggested to the reader who wants to apply another theory related to mythology in the same novel

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Riordan, Rick. (2010). The Lost Hero. New York: Disney Hyperion Book. Riordan, Rick. (2011). The Son of Neptune. New York: Disney Hyperion Book. Zhang, Kai. (2008). Archetype and Allegory in Journey to the West. Victoria: University of Victoria.