The Maze Runner

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The Changing Symbol Analysis

The Changing Symbol Icon
At the same, the order and stability inside the Glade may only conceal a dark and systemized savagery. Although the laws in the Glade attempt to prevent violence, they also create cruel and overly violent punishments. Alby, the Gladers’ leader, maintains order with fear, often threatening the boys with the death penalty. His use of fear to control the Gladers becomes most overt when Alby has Ben banished. Although Ben attempted to murder Thomas, he did so during a state of mental distress caused by the Changing. Even after Ben repents and asks for mercy, Alby stills banishes Ben to the Maze, effectively sentencing him to death. Although Alby feels that such harsh punishments are necessary for ensuring order, the extreme violence of this act and the fact that many of the boys seem to enjoy watching Ben get banished suggest that beneath the Glade’s veneer of order and security is actually a somewhat cruel and brutal society.

The Changing Quotes in The Maze Runner

The The Maze Runner quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Changing. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Memory and Identity  Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Delacorte Press edition of The Maze Runner published in 2009.
Chapter 23 Quotes

“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?”

Related Characters: Thomas (speaker), Alby, Newt
Related Symbols: The Changing
Page Number: 149
Explanation and Analysis:

Here Thomas sits with Newt and discusses the Changing, the mysterious mental transformation that Alby is now undergoing as he recovers from the Grievers' venom. Newt explains that the Changing can be intensely painful for some people--during the Changing, Gladers see flashes of their old lives, and then have to return to their present-day existences outside in the Glade. Newt takes the position that the Changing is depressing because Gladers get to remember the past, but then have to go back to their current lives, which are harder and sadder than their past lives. Thomas, however, suggests that the Changing is so traumatic because it illustrates that the Gladers never had a happy life--their pasts are no better than their presents.

The passage corresponds to two views about human development. If the Changing symbolizes puberty and maturity, then Newt is arguing that people are innately good and innocent--and they lose their innocence during puberty. Thomas, however, suggests that there is innate goodness, or an innate lack of goodness--childhood is no happier or better than adulthood.

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Chapter 39 Quotes

“No one ever understood what I saw, what the Changing did to me! Don’t go back to the real world, Thomas! You don’t...want...to remember!”

Related Characters: Gally (speaker), Thomas
Related Symbols: The Changing
Page Number: 258
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Gally--previously, a bullying, antagonistic character--suddenly reappears to give Thomas some serious advice. Gally runs around, raving like a madman, yelling about how the Grievers will attack one Glader per night until everyone is dead. Gally, who's previously been rude and tough on Thomas, now tells Thomas to reject his memories--he might not like what he finds.

Gally's behavior reminds us that memory, while clearly important to the characters' identities, might not be a solution to their problems. On the contrary, memory can cause as many problems as it solves. Some characters, such as Alby, seem content to live without memories; i.e., to live in a perpetual present, blissfully ignorant of reality. Thomas, on the other hand, seems eager to reclaim his own memories--but Gally's warning suggests that he might want to rethink his goal, particularly since knowledge often brings pain as much as it brings hope.

Chapter 45 Quotes

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.

Related Characters: Thomas
Related Symbols: The Changing
Page Number: 291
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Thomas endangers his life for a greater good: knowledge. Thomas knows that he needs to solve the mysterious code of the Maze, and he knows that doing so will require him to remember things that happened to him before he arrived in the Glade. The only way to relive his past life is to get stung by the dangerous Grievers.

Thomas is willing to risk his own safety in order to solve the Maze and help the other escape. While other characters regard getting stung as a frightening thing--since it causes the Changing, a series of vivid flashbacks that are either painful or pleasant (and thus painful to wake up from)--Thomas accepts that he must undergo the Changing. Thomas shows that he's becoming a brave, confident young man, giving up his own ignorant happiness for enlightenment. This is the kind of sacrifice necessary in growing up--experiencing pain and gaining painful knowledge, but maturing and developing in the process.

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The Changing Symbol Timeline in The Maze Runner

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Changing appears in The Maze Runner. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3
Memory and Identity  Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon
...see someone who’s been stung. The boy then tells Thomas that he saw him during Changing. (full context)
Chapter 14
Stability and Order vs. Change and Chaos  Theme Icon
...collar around Ben’s neck. Ben pleads that he only tried to kill Thomas because the Changing made him crazy. Alby pays no attention and, in a ceremonial and authoritative voice, decrees... (full context)
Chapter 22
Stability and Order vs. Change and Chaos  Theme Icon
Hope Theme Icon
...hours later, who tells him that Alby has survived but is now going through the Changing. (full context)
Chapter 23
Growing Up Theme Icon
...him that Alby be will alright soon. When Thomas asks about what happens during the Changing, Newt says that all they know is that the Gladers who go through it get... (full context)
Chapter 27
Growing Up Theme Icon
...so that they can talk privately. When they are alone, Alby says that during the Changing he saw Thomas and the girl working with the Creators in the place where they... (full context)
Chapter 28
Memory and Identity  Theme Icon
...says that no one has ever tried to tell them what they remembered from the Changing. Newt suggest that something must be preventing them from talking about their memories and that... (full context)
Chapter 31
Growing Up Theme Icon
...Alby arrives at the Slammer and lets him out. Alby tells Thomas that during the Changing, he saw Thomas helping the Creators, but that the images he saw could just be... (full context)
Chapter 45
Sacrifice  Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon
...back, Thomas decides to get stung by the Grievers in order to go through the Changing. (full context)
Chapter 49
Growing Up Theme Icon
At the Gathering, Thomas explains that during the Changing he saw flashes of his lost memories. He says that the Maze was a trial... (full context)
Chapter 51
Memory and Identity  Theme Icon
Stability and Order vs. Change and Chaos  Theme Icon
Hope Theme Icon
...doesn’t want to go back to the horrible world he had visions of during the Changing. Alby confesses that he was the one who burned all the maps, fearing that Thomas... (full context)
Chapter 59
Growing Up Theme Icon
...Trial. She then says there is one more Variable. Like Alby in bed after the Changing, Gally struggles to speak, saying that he can’t control himself. He then takes a knife... (full context)