The Maze Runner Chapters 13-16 Summary & Analysis
Alby is both doubtful and surprised that Minho has found a dead Griever, and overwhelms his friend with a barrage of questions. Thomas has questions as well, but does not want them to change their minds about letting him listen in, so he remains quiet. Alby and Minho finally agree to wait and retrieve the Griever the next day, much to Thomas’s disappointment. Alby again asks Thomas if he is withholding any information. Thomas repeats that he does not remember anything, and angrily asks Alby why he keeps accusing him of things. Alby says that his inquiries have nothing to do with personal feelings, only with survival. Alby then has Thomas promise to come to him if he remembers anything at all before he sets off for the Glade.
Thomas goes back to the Deadheads and finds a tree to rest under. He does not want to go back to work with Winston, and though he needs to eat, he feels like being alone. As soon as he sits down, however, he is interrupted by Chuck who tells him that Ben survived and has been placed in the Slammer, the Glade’s jail. A Gathering was called to discuss his punishment for attacking Thomas and he is going to be banished that very night. When Thomas asks what banishment means, he sees “perhaps the most disturbing thing” (89) since he arrived: Chuck smiling in excitement before running off.
At dusk, before the doors close, Alby assembles everyone at the East Door to the Maze. Thomas still does not know exactly what banishment means, but he is concerned that they are so close to the Doors at dusk. He sees a few Gladers drag Ben, who is crying and whose clothes are in tatters, to the East Door. Ben’s eyes are filled with terror, and Thomas sees Newt emerge from a shed carrying a giant pole with a collar at one end of it.
Alby wraps the collar around Ben’s neck as Ben pleads hysterically that he only tried to kill Thomas because the Changing made him crazy. Alby pays no heed to Ben’s words, but in an authoritative voice, tells Ben and the boys that this is the punishment for breaking the law. The ten Keepers of the Glade then emerge from the crowd and all take positions along the pole, to which Ben is strapped by the collar. Ben continues to cry and beg for help, but no one intervenes. Thomas feels both guilty and angry, wondering how this could happen when none if it is really Ben’s fault. Ben continues to plead for help but the boys all look away; even Thomas hides behind a taller boy so as not to make eye contact with Ben. As the East Door begins to close for the night, the Keepers use the pole to thrust Ben, who is beyond hysterical now, inside the Maze. Just before the Door closes, Thomas sees Ben screaming and crying, and is shocked at how inhuman he appears. As the Door closes, Ben lets out a startling scream. Thomas, shocked by the scene, closes his eyes and feels hot tears running down his face.
Thomas goes to sleep for the second night in a row haunted by images of Ben’s face. The next morning, he is awakened by Newt, who tells him that he will be spending the day working with the “Track-hoes,” the farmers. When the girl in the coma comes up in conversation, Thomas feels sadness stir within him again. As he gets up, Thomas looks over to the East Door half expecting Ben to be standing there, but notices Minho picking up Ben’s collar instead. Newt says that every time they banish someone—and he has only seen three banishments—the Grievers leave the banished person’s collar at one of the Doors; a thought which terrifies both Newt and Thomas. Thomas asks Newt about the Runners and Newt replies that they are the best people in the Glade.
Newt also tells Thomas that he was a Runner until a few months ago, when he hurt his leg running away from a Griever. To be a Runner, Newt explains, you have to be fast, smart, and a good decision maker. After a time, Thomas reveals his desire to be a Runner to Newt, saying that he is not cut out for the daily activities of the Glade, like pulling weeds. Newt tells Thomas that he will have to prove himself as a valuable member of the Glade who follows the rules before he can be recommended as a Runner. No one has become a Runner in their first month, let alone their first week in the Glade. Thomas insists that he would make a good Runner, but Newt tells him that the Glade runs on order, and that he needs to understand and respect this order before he will even be considered for training. As the two boys sit in the kitchen to eat before commencing with their chores, a commotion at the West Door catches Thomas’s attention, and Newt tells him that Minho and Alby are leaving to find the dead Griever.
Thomas spends the rest of the morning pulling weeds and doing farm work with Zart, the Keeper of the farmers. Finding Zart easy to talk to, Thomas asks him questions about the Glade. Zart explains the positions and roles of the other Keepers. Though most are self-explanatory, Thomas asks about “Sloppers,” “Baggers” and “Track-hoes.” Zart tells Thomas that Sloppers do all the cleaning work and that the Baggers take care of the dead but also work as police. As lunchtime approaches, Thomas’s desire to be a Runner increases, as it will allow him to avoid farm work, which he despises. Though he has more questions, he decides to just stay quiet. His desire to be a Runner is also mixed with strong emotions he has about the mysterious girl.
At lunch, Chuck and Thomas notice that Newt is distressed, and he tells them that the girl is still in a coma and saying strange things. More worrying, however, is the fact that Minho and Alby have yet to return. They should have been back by noon, but are nowhere to be found. Back at work, Thomas thinks about the fear he saw on Newt’s face when he suggested sending a search party into the Maze to look for them. Though Newt said that it was not allowed as more people could become lost, the Glader’s fear of the Maze was unmistakable.
Dinner is a somber affair, as Alby and Minho have yet to return while all the other Runners have returned at their appointed times. Though no one says it, they are all afraid that the pair is dead. Thomas watches Newt run frantically from Door to Door asking questions of the Runners and looking for Alby and Minho, but to no avail. Thomas cannot take the waiting any longer, and joins Newt with Chuck in tow. Newt is frantic, yet when Thomas again suggests sending out a search party, Newt yells at him. Everyone took an oath not to go out at night, and the Glade is bound to uphold its rules. Chuck says what everyone is already thinking, which is that the two are already dead, and then walks away. Newt says he is right, which is another reason for not wasting any more lives in a search. He tells Thomas that the Doors will close in two minutes and then leaves as well.
As the Doors begin to close, Thomas catches sight of something in the Maze. Initially thinking it a Griever, he is shocked to see Minho struggling to help Alby. Minho yells out that Alby has been stung; he is weak himself and barely standing. Thomas calls out for Newt, who had just made it back to the Homestead, but who comes running back at the news. Minho eventually resorts to dragging Alby’s body, but the two are still too far away and will never make it in time. Feeling he must help, that he must “move,” Thomas disregards Newt’s order to stay put and slips into the Maze just as the Door closes behind him.
Chapter 13 – Chapter 16 Analysis
The dead Griever found by Minho is a plot device that gives the Gladers momentary hope. If a Griever has been killed, it means that Grievers as a whole can be killed. Also, it means that something has killed the Griever. The prospect of the dead Griever allows for various possibilities that, in themselves, point to the hope of escape. At the same time, however, the dead Griever also points to the fact that things are no longer going according to routine. Things are changing in the Glade and the Maze, and even though a dead Griever might be a good thing, the Gladers are not in control and it is hard to tell what the consequences might be for them.
Ben’s banishment, like his attack on Thomas, is an example of the need for sanity and stability in the Glade. Madness and chaos appear to have no place in a functioning society, and though Ben tried to kill Thomas, Thomas is appalled to see how inhumanely Ben is treated when he is banished. Even Chuck seems to delight in the idea of banishment and smiles at Thomas after giving him the news, before running excitedly to the scene of the banishment. Though Alby insists that law and order are imperative to keep the Glade running, Thomas sees how a person’s humanity can be overlooked by sticking rigidly to such strict rules. This friction again points to the dichotomy between stability and chaos in the novel.
The friction between order and chaos is also evident when Thomas, who has felt a strong urge to be a Runner since his arrival, breaks the Glade’s number one rule and enters the Maze at night to help Minho and Alby. Even though two people are in need of assistance, Newt forbids Thomas from entering. Thomas, however, is symbolic of necessary change, and disregards Newt’s order.