The Maze Runner Chapters 9-12 Summary & Analysis
Newt calls for the “Med-Jacks,” which are the Glade’s doctors, to examine the girl. They determine that the girl is breathing, and one of them, Clint, thinks she may be in a coma. Fearing for her safety, Alby says that if any of the boys touch her, that boy will be banished from the Glade. As they take her away, Thomas feels sympathy for her and begins to feel connected to her in some unknown way. He looks around quickly, wondering if anyone has noticed the look of recognition on his face. Alby asks him if he recognizes the girl, and he lies, saying that he does not recognize her at all. Troubled, Alby calls a Gathering, which Chuck explains is something that only occurs when something “weird or terrible” (61) happens.
Thomas and Chuck go to the kitchen for food. As they eat, Thomas asks Chuck more questions. He asks about becoming a Runner, and what they keep inside the concrete building. Chuck says that the building houses the Maps that the Runners create every night. The Runners come together at the end of each day and pool their information to add to the Maps of the Maze. Realizing that the Runners have been doing this for two years, Thomas wonders if they will ever really escape the Maze. He also wonders if the boys are actually criminals who have been placed in the Maze as punishment.
After Thomas and Chuck finish eating, Thomas decides to explore the Glade. As he approaches the forest, he sees a beetle blade, which he compares to a small metallic lizard. As he rushes off to follow the beetle blade, he thinks he sees the word “WICKED” spelled out on the creature’s body.
As Thomas follows the beetle blade, he walks deeper and deeper into the forest. He eventually loses sight of the creature. Suddenly, he hears a twig snap, which startles him. He calls out but no one responds. He thinks it may be an animal, and moves towards the sound, finding himself at the graveyard. There are a number of graves, each marked by a poorly made cross. Thomas wonders how all these boys died, and then walks toward a structure covered in grimy glass. When he peers inside, he sees half a skeleton. Next to the structure is a plaque warning future Gladers not to try climbing down the Box, confirming that Chuck was telling the truth.
Thomas hears another snap behind him, and becomes frightened. He calls out again, but receives no response. Soon, he hears twigs snapping as something moves towards him faster and faster. Before he can do anything, he sees a skinny boy moving towards him in an odd run. The boy attacks Thomas, and as Thomas falls to the ground and feels the grave markers digging into his back, the pale, ghostly boy bites into his shoulder, causing Thomas to scream out in agony. Thomas pushes against the boy’s chest until the boy finally falls off of him, and he realizes that the crazed boy is Ben, the very same boy he saw going through the Changing earlier.
Thomas notices that Ben still has the ropelike, green veins wrapping around his skin. Ben crouches to attack again, and at some point he acquires a knife. Before he can lunge, however, Alby appears with a bow and arrow pointed at Ben and tells him he will kill him if he does not back down. Ben shouts back that Thomas is the one who Alby should kill because he is not a Glader like the rest of them; he reveals that he saw Thomas during the Changing and that he is bad, and that Thomas will try and take them all home, which is far worse than being in the Glade. Alby tries to calm Ben down, but when Thomas asks Ben about his vision, Ben snaps and lunges at Thomas with the knife. Alby shoots Ben in the cheek, and he falls down, bleeding. Before Thomas can ask any questions, Alby says the “Baggers” will collect Ben’s body, and then disappears back into the forest. That night, Thomas wrestles with the issue involving Ben and life in the Glade in general, and feels dejected. He even mouths off to Chuck who tries to joke with him before bed, wanting to be left alone.
The next morning, Chuck has to force Thomas to go about his morning routine as Thomas is still depressed about his part in Ben’s death. But as Newt brings him to his training with the Keeper of the Blood House, he starts to feel better. Newt tells him that the girl is still in a coma, and that work is the best way to take his mind off of things. The Keeper of the Blood House, Winston, begins showing Thomas around, and Thomas spends his first hour working with the animals, even shoveling animal feces (“klunk”). The hardest part for him is watching Winston slaughter a pig during his third hour at the Blood House. Thomas surmises that Winston must have actually been sent to the Glade for being a serial killer based on the pleasure he takes in slaughtering animals. Before Winston sends him to lunch, Thomas decides he will never be able to work in the Blood House or eat pork again.
As Thomas leaves for lunch, he notices a Runner, an Asian kid with strong arms he has seen before, coming out of the West Door earlier than expected. Thomas is excited and eager to ask the Runner questions, but before he reaches the boy, the Runner collapses to the ground.
Thomas fears the Runner may have been stung, and so calls out for help. He rushes over to the Runner, and is joined by Alby. When they reach the Runner, they find that he is actually conscious but exhausted and barely able to speak. Alby tells Thomas that the Runner’s name is Minho, and asks him why he has returned so early. Minho tells Alby to calm down and to get him some water. Thomas is shocked at the tone Minho takes with Alby, but Alby smiles and says Minho is the only person who can talk to him like that, and then surprises Thomas even more by running off to get Minho water.
Thomas asks Minho why he talks to Alby like he does, and Minho jokes that Alby is not in charge. His tone is sarcastic, however, and Thomas becomes increasingly annoyed with Minho. He gets ready to leave but Minho apologizes, saying that he is just having fun at Thomas’ expense. Thomas then asks Minho if he found anything in the Maze. Minho says that although that is normally the worst question to ask a Runner, today is different. Thomas is intrigued, but when he asks Minho what he found, Minho says he has to wait for Alby to return to see if he wants him to talk in front of Thomas. When Alby returns with the water, he gives Minho permission to speak in front of Thomas, and Minho tells them that has found a dead Griever in the Maze.
Chapter 9 – Chapter 12 Analysis
Being thrust into an entirely new environment is a traumatic experience in itself and Thomas soon finds that there are terrible dangers on the other side of the Doors as well. These chapters expose the possibility of violence in the Glade by pitting Thomas against a fellow Glader. Ben has gone through the Changing and, like Gally, has seen Thomas in his recovered memories. Ben, still in a state of mental imbalance, does not think of Thomas as one of the Gladers, and attacks him. The experience is traumatic for Thomas in that he has no idea what these boys are seeing in their memories. He has no idea what he has done in his past life that would make someone want to kill him. Ben’s attack highlights the fact that Thomas is not safe, even in the Glade. The Glade is symbolic of the hope of peace, not peace itself. Ben’s attack shows that nowhere in this strange world of the Maze is really safe.
Moral ambiguity also plays a role when Thomas finds a beetle blade with the word WICKED written on it. He does not know exactly what or who is WICKED, but it casts doubt in his mind as to whether or not he really is guilty of some crime and is being punished for it. This creature, along with the Griever seen earlier, also highlights the dystopian dimension of the novel, in that the Gladers are governed and threatened by machine. In this sense, the order of things has been upended and the Gladers are enslaved by these machines that watch their daily lives and seek to destroy them.