The Maze Runner Chapters 21-24 Summary & Analysis
Thomas turns around and sees that the first Griever is still pursuing him. Thinking he stands a better chance against one Griever as opposed to three, he decides to give his all and charges at the Griever. Just before impact, however, Thomas plants his foot and dives right. Having built up momentum, the Griever is unable to stop and slides right past Thomas, who now has a clear shot of the path. As he runs, someone grabs him and pulls him into the adjoining corridor. Shocked, Thomas sees that it is Minho, who tells Thomas that his sideways dive has given him an idea for beating the other Grievers. Minho takes off, and Thomas follows him to a corridor that appears to end in blackness. Initially thinking that they have inadvertently found the end of the Maze, Thomas learns that this is the Cliff, an expanse of seemingly endless sky.
The boys can hear the Grievers approaching, and before Minho can tell Thomas his plan, Thomas knows what they have to do. The path leading to the Cliff is narrow, so the Grievers approach in single file. The boys plant themselves on the very edge of the Cliff. Minho tells Thomas to dive out of the way as soon as the Grievers charge them. The first Griever charges and the boys manage to dive out of the way. Without enough time to stop, the Griever falls off the edge. The trick works with the second and third Grievers as well. The fourth one, however, is able to stop just in time and plants its spike into the ground. Minho and Thomas give each other a knowing look and then charge the fourth Griever, kicking it and sending it plummeting over the edge. Thomas notices that the Grievers have all disappeared as if they never existed. Exhausted, he falls to the ground and cries.
After their emotional battle against the Grievers, Thomas sits beside Minho and cries for half an hour. He wonders if Minho will tell the others about his crying, but he has no self-control left after the ordeal. When he finally calms down, he looks back over the Cliff, and tells Minho that they need to find Alby. Minho says that Alby is surely dead because he didn’t receive the Serum before sunset. Thomas asks if the Gladers have ever tried giving a stung Glader the Serum after sunset. Shocked, Minho realizes that stung Gladers have either returned in time to get the Serum or have been found too late and are already dead inside the Maze, if their bodies are found at all. What this means is that if Alby is still alive, he might still be cured by the Serum. With newfound hope, the two boys head to where Thomas left Alby in the vines.
On their way, Minho answers a few of Thomas’s questions. He says that the Serum is short for Grief Serum, which is always found preloaded into a syringe in their weekly supplies. It is sent by the Creators, which is what the Gladers call the people who put them in the Glade. When Minho and Thomas round a corner, they see movement and find that the Door is open and a group of Gladers, including Newt, are standing there. Newt is surprised that they have survived, and even more surprised to learn that Alby might still be alive. Thomas points to where Alby is hanging in the vines and Newt sends a few boys to get him down, sending Thomas and Minho off to get checked by the Med-jacks as well.
As they walk to the Homestead, all the Gladers stare at them in awe, as if they are ghosts. Thomas knows that they have just done something that has never been done before in the history of the Glade. He also sees Gally glaring at him but he eventually looks away, which give Thomas momentary satisfaction. At the Homestead, Thomas is finally left alone, but before he goes to sleep he thinks about the girl—who he feels a strong urge to see for some reason—and the word WICKED brandished on the beetle blades. He is later woken up by Chuck, who tells him that Alby has indeed survived, but is now going through the Changing.
As Thomas listens to the sounds of Alby’s screams, he thinks how minute the victory of saving his life seems in comparison to the trauma of the Changing, the very same pain Ben went through. He asks if he can see Alby, but Newt refuses, saying it will only make things worse. Thomas spends the day in the Deadheads, too tired and sore to do anything else. Thinking about the Maze leads him to think about the Creators, and how much he wants to get revenge on the people who put them in the Glade.
Chuck brings Thomas some food after the Doors close for the night, and tells him that as a result of his antics in the Maze, he is the talk of the Glade. Newt finds them a while later and says that Alby should be fine in a few days. Thomas asks Newt what actually happens during the Changing. Though Newt says that they do not really understand it, the Gladers who have gone through it get sick and their skin turns green. They also get glimpses of their erased memories, their past lives. Newt says that the Gladers who have experienced it go a little insane and are different after the Changing. Newt does not enjoy being around them after they change. He says it is because they are given their life back during the Changing, only to have it taken away all over again once the process finishes. Thomas, on the other hand, suggests that the Gladers go crazy because they realize that their old lives were far worse than life in the Glade.
Before Newt leaves, he says that the next item on the agenda is to figure out what to do with “Tommy,” which is his nickname for Thomas. Half of the Gladers think he is God, while the other half wants to kill him. Newt has called a Gathering for the next day, and Thomas will be in attendance.
The Gathering commences the next morning, and Thomas finds himself facing the Keepers. Unfortunately, Gally is one of them, but Thomas is relieved to find that both Minho and Newt are amongst them too. He knows that the empty chair in front of him belongs to Alby. Newt starts the meeting, but is interrupted by Gally who says that Thomas is a rule-breaker. Newt tells Gally to hold his tongue, and that if he cannot, he can leave. Newt then goes on to say that half the Gladers think Thomas is a rule-breaker and that the other half thinks he is a hero. Gally prepares to say something, but Newt cuts him off again, saying that each Keeper will get to vote, and then Thomas will be allowed to speak at the end.
Each Keeper, starting with Zart, give his opinion, most of them agreeing that while Thomas did a good deed that should be applauded, he should face a minor punishment for breaking the number one rule. When Gally finally speaks, he not only says that Thomas broke the number one rule, but that Thomas must be a spy for the Creators. Thomas has just arrived, and already he has done what no newbie could ever be brave enough to do: he has gone into the Maze and saved Minho and Alby, two of the most accomplished Gladers, killed Grievers and survived a night in the Maze. Gally says that Thomas only saved the two Gladers as a trick to win the Gladers over. His comments cause uproar and Thomas fears that the Keepers might agree with Gally. He is relieved, however, that the last Glader to speak is Minho. After Gally finishes, Newt asks Minho to give his opinion. Minho stands up quickly and says that he was out in the Maze with Thomas, and saw all the things he did that night. Getting to his recommendation, he calmly says, “I nominate this shank to replace me as Keeper of the Runners” (158).
Chapter 21 – Chapter 24 Analysis
Thomas’s own heroic actions inspire hope in Minho, as the veteran Runner sees Thomas execute a move that outsmarts the Griever. The boys then use this move to outsmart four other Grievers. In this sense, hope is something stronger than doubt or fear. Minho learns from Thomas, and his newfound hope leads a plan that defeats the remaining Grievers. The scene in which the boys dive out of the Grievers’ way shows the benefits of teamwork just as it highlights the importance of growth and moving forward, despite obstacles that block the way.
When Thomas breaks down and cries for half an hour, Dashner reveals the human side that is always present in the novel’s protagonist. Not only is it human to be afraid, a fact observed throughout the novel, Thomas is an adolescent in a frightening situation. Though he has defeated the Grievers, he has no idea what they are or why they want to harm him. Confusion runs rampant in his world, and his tears remind us that he is, after all, a teenager, a confused teenager who is seeking—hoping—for answers.
Thomas, without wanting to be, becomes a figure of importance in the Glade community. Not only do the Gladers stare at him in awe, he has a Keeper and a Runner who is on his side as well. He has done something that has never been done before, which goes a long way to providing hope to the Gladers. At the same time, however, it also undermines the stability that the Glade’s leadership has worked so hard to maintain. Because of this, despite Thomas’s heroic actions in saving lives and defeating Grievers, he must be “dealt with” by the Keepers. In the subsequent Gathering, the themes of order and change once again to come into play as each Keeper gives their recommendation as to what should be done with Thomas.