James Dashner

The Maze Runner

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  • Features 63 chapter summaries and 6 sections of expert analysis
  • Written by a literary scholar with a Master's degree in English Literature
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The Maze Runner Important Quotes

1. “And yet he didn’t know where he came from, or how he’d gotten inside the dark lift, or who his parents were. He didn’t even know his last name. Images of people flashed across his mind, but there was no recognition, their faces replaced with haunted smears of color. He couldn’t think of one person he knew, or recall a single conversation” (Chapter 1, p. 2).

Thomas’s confusion is palpable as he prepares to enter his new life in the Glade. He does not even know how he ended up in the elevator. His identity is nothing but a blur, symbolizing his ignorance, as if a newborn being cast into a strange space.

2. “His memory loss was strange. He mostly remembered the workings of the world—but emptied of specifics, faces, names. Like a book completely intact but missing one word in every dozen, making it a miserable and confusing read. He didn’t even know his age” (Chapter 3, p. 15).

Thomas’s memory loss is symbolic of rebirth. Identity and memory are connected here, and both are related to self-worth. As Thomas has neither at this point, he has no self-worth.

3. “‘Listen to me, Greenbean.’ The boy wrinkled up his face, folded his arms. ‘I’ve seen you before. Something’s fishy about you showing up here, and I’m gonna find out what’” (Chapter 3, p. 17).

Gally’s hatred of Thomas is explored here, and the reader sees that there is more to Thomas than has initially been revealed. In this sense, Thomas’s arrival in the Glade might be more sinister than previously thought.

4. “‘I know you,’ Gally added without looking back. ‘I saw you in the Changing, and I’m gonna figure out who you are’” (Chapter 5, p. 32)

Not only has Gally seen Thomas before, he saw him during the Changing, when memories of the time before the Glade resurface. This quote adds an ominous layer to Thomas’s relation to the Gladers before they were all placed inside the Glade, and leaves doubt as to his purpose there.

5. “‘Out there’s the Maze,’ Newt whispered, eyes wide as if in a trance. ‘Everything we do—our whole life, Greenie—revolves around the Maze. Every lovin’ second of every lovin’ day we spend in honor of the Maze, tryin’ to solve somethin’ that’s not shown us it has a bloody solution, ya know? And we want to show ya why it’s not to be messed with. Show ya why them buggin’ walls close shut every night. Show ya why you should never, never find your butt out there’” (Chapter 6, p. 38).

As well as explaining the Maze to Thomas, this quote expresses the Gladers’ desperation to interpret the Maze. Their entire life is devoted to figuring out the mystery. Newt wants Thomas to respect the collective struggle as opposed to selfishly trying to do things on his own and in his own way.

6. “Newt looked down in the Box one more time, then faced the crowd, gravely. ‘It’s a girl,’ he said. Everyone started talking at once; Thomas only caught pieces here and there. ‘A girl?’ ‘I got dibs!’ ‘What’s she look like?’ ‘How old is she?’” (Chapter 8, p. 54).

Never before in the history of the Glade has a girl arrived in the Box. Newt’s grave attitude stems in part from the fact that he knows just how disruptive a girl could be amongst a group of adolescent boys, and how easy it would be for her to turn order into chaos. The quote also demonstrates the Gladers’ inherent sexism, as various boys want to “claim” the girl as their own, without her having a say.

7. “Before New could finish, the girl shot up into a sitting position. As she sucked in a huge breath, her eyes snapped open and she blinked…Then she spoke one sentence—her voice hollow and haunted, but clear. ‘Everything is going to change’” (Chapter 8, p. 57).

As Newt feared, the girl is a bad omen, and brings a warning that everything will change. She is a trigger for the ending, and as such, represents a variable that cannot be controlled by the Gladers.

8. “‘Think about it. Our memories are wiped. We live inside a place that seems to have no way out, surrounded by bloodthirsty monster-guards. Doesn’t that sound like a prison to you?’ As he said it out loud, it sounded more and more possible. Nausea trickled into his chest” (Chapter 9, p. 64).

Identity plays a big role for Thomas. For all intents and purposes, the Glade is a prison. If this is indeed the case, Thomas wonders what he has done to deserve being sent here.

9. “‘That’s one of the reasons we run this place all nice and busylike. You get lazy, you get sad. Start givin’ up. Plain and simple’” (Chapter 11, p. 77).

Newt hints at the real need for order in society. If the Gladers have nothing to do, they have time to think about their predicament and lose hope. With hard work, they remain busy, build a productive community, and can be hopeful that a way out of the Maze is possible.

10. “‘This ain’t got nothin’ to do with no hate or like or love or friends or anything. All we care about is surviving. Drop your sissy side and start using that shuck brain if you got one’” (Chapter 13, p. 86).

Thomas mistakes Alby’s questions for signs of hatred, making things personal. Alby, however, reveals that survival is more important than personal feelings, at least to him and the Gladers. As such, the quote offers a different take on the role of personal relationships in society, as well as highlighting the sexism so often attributed to adolescent males, as when Alby equates feelings with femininity.

11. “‘You don’t understand, shuck-face! You don’t know anything, and you’re just making it worse by trying to have hope! We’re dead, you hear me? Dead!’” (Chapter 17, p. 117).

Minho breaks down under the threat of death, and reveals just how tenuous hope is for the Gladers. They live in constant fear, and the moment something does not go according to the order they have established, it threatens their hope and peace of mind.

12. “Thomas rocked back on his heels, then ran his arm across his forehead, wiping away the sweat. And at that moment, in the space of only a few seconds, he learned a lot about himself. About the Thomas that was before. He couldn’t leave a friend to die” (Chapter 18, pp. 119-120).

Though Thomas has no recollection of his past identity, he instinctually feels that he cannot leave Alby behind. In this way, the quote shows that identity is more than just memory, and that some traits might be buried within us, but are nevertheless encoded in our being.

13. “‘Are they changed because they want to go back to their old life, or is it because they’re so depressed at realizing their old life was no better than what we have now?’” (Chapter 23, p. 149).

Thomas has an interesting revelation about the people who undergo the Changing. Most think they are sad because their old memories have been snatched away again. Thomas, however, understands that the depression stems from something deeper, the fact that hope will get them nowhere as there is nowhere better to “escape” to.

14. “‘I didn’t do anything wrong. All I know is I saw two people struggling to get inside these walls and they couldn’t make it. To ignore that because of some stupid rule seemed selfish, cowardly, and…well, stupid’” (Chapter 26, p. 166).

Thomas is more concerned with people than with rules, and ran into the Maze to save Alby and Minho. The rules and the current system of order seem illogical to Thomas when faced with helping someone clearly in need.

15. “Alby continued. ‘I hope the Changing doesn’t give us real memories—just plants fake ones. Some suspect it—I can only hope. If the world’s the way I saw it…’ He trailed off, leaving an ominous silence” (Chapter 31, p. 197).

The quote confirms Thomas’s earlier suspicion that there is nowhere better to escape to. Though it is not made clear what condition the world is in, Alby would rather live with fake memories than to have to deal with the reality of what he saw.

16. “They needed more clues about the code. They needed memories. So he was going to get stung by a Griever. Go through the Changing. On purpose” (Chapter 45, p. 291).

Thomas continuously puts the needs of the many above his own safety, so much so that he is willing to get stung by a Griever, something every Glader fears. His stance on helping the Gladers no matter the cost attests to his strong sense of morality.

17. “Thomas shook his head. ‘No, you don’t get it. They’re weeding us out, seeing if we’ll give up, finding the best of us. Throwing variables at us, trying to make us quit. Testing our ability to hope and fight. Sending Teresa here and shutting everything down was only the last part, one more…final analysis. Now it’s time for the last test. To escape’” (Chapter 48, p. 301).

Thomas reveals that the Maze is an experiment to try and see if the Gladers will abandon all hope. Everything has been done to that end, and now, they have to finish the test by escaping. In other words, their current predicament is larger than his and Teresa’s arrival; they have been played like pawns from the beginning.

18. “‘I’m telling you.’ Alby sounded like he was begging—near hysterical. ‘We can’t go back to where we came from. I’ve seen it, remembered awful, awful things. Burned land, a disease—something called the Flare. It was horrible—way worse than we have it here…Better to die than go home.’” (Chapter 51, p. 312).

The Gladers finally get a glimpse of what lies ahead for them on the other side of the Maze. The
Flare and a dystopian society so horrible that Alby, and others, would rather stay in the Maze and die rather than face reality.

19. “Too many, Thomas thought. Too many by far. His joy dribbled away, turned into a deep mourning for the twenty people who’d lost their lives. Despite the alternative, despite knowing that if they hadn’t tried to escape, all of them might’ve died, it still hurt, even though he hadn’t known them very well. Such a display of death—how could it be considered a victory?” (Chapter 58, p. 348).

Morality plays an important role in the novel. Though he has shut down the Maze, Thomas wonders at what cost.

20. “‘All things happen for a purpose,’ she said, any sign of malice now gone from her voice. ‘You must understand this’” (Chapter 60, p. 360).

The woman from WICKED wants the Gladers to understand that there are actions and reactions, as well as consequences for every action. She says this in an effort to get the Gladers to see that even their pain—their time in the Maze Trials—had a reason, a tangible purpose.

21. “In the Glade, Chuck had become a symbol for him—a beacon that somehow they could make everything right again in the world. Sleep in beds. Get kissed goodnight. Have bacon and eggs for breakfast, go to a real school. Be happy” (Chapter 60, p. 359).

Chuck’s death is symbolic because Chuck himself was a symbol of hope for Thomas. With his death, Thomas is forced to consider whether or not he can go on. Chuck’s death was also a variable managed by the Creators, most likely as a way to see if Thomas would break.

22. “‘Most of the physical effects are caused by something else. First the delusions start, then animal instincts begin to overpower the human ones. Finally it consumes them, destroys their humanity…We won’t let them do this to children. We’ve sworn our lives to fighting WICKED. We can’t lose our humanity, no matter the end result’” (Chapter 61, pp. 366-367).

One of the rescuers tells Thomas and Teresa about the state of the world. It is at this point that Thomas is able to see what he was never able to see in his memories of the world, a devastated population ravaged by disease. It also shows that not everyone has lost their humanity in this dystopian world.

23. “‘You think we’re safe with these people?’ Minho asked. Thomas pondered the question for a moment. There was only one answer to hold onto. ‘Yeah, I think we’re safe’” (Chapter 62, p. 370).

The obvious question on the Gladers’ minds is whether or not they are finally safe. Thomas shows just how vital hope is for survival by “holding on” to this hope, and answering “yes,” though he has no clue if they are really safe.

24. “He died saving you, Teresa said. He made the choice himself. Just don’t ever waste it” (Chapter 62, p. 371).

Teresa reminds Thomas that Chuck made a choice and, as such, it behooves Thomas to respect Chuck’s choice. If Thomas continues to mope, Chuck’s death was in vain. The quote also shows how much Chuck developed, going from a scared newcomer into the Glade to a mature adolescent making a conscious choice to sacrifice his life for a friend.

25. “’The subjects will eventually recall and understand the purpose of the hard things we have done and plan to do to them. The mission of WICKED is to serve and preserve humanity, no matter the cost. We are, indeed, ‘good’” (Epilogue, pp. 373-374).

The epilogue reveals that the Gladers are not safe with their “rescuers.” Moreover, this quote adds to the moral ambiguity of WICKED’s mission to save mankind by doing inhumane tests on adolescents. WICKED believes that its actions are justified in the same way…

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