The Maze Runner

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Themes and Colors
Memory and Identity  Theme Icon
Stability and Order vs. Change and Chaos  Theme Icon
Sacrifice  Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon
Hope Theme Icon
Sexism Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Maze Runner, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Hope Theme Icon

Throughout the novel, the Gladers struggle to maintain hope despite the nightmarish and horrific nature of their circumstances. The three main leaders, Alby, Newt, and Minho, each have their own views about the best way for maintaining hope. Alby believes a system of laws and punishments will give the Gladers stability and the hope necessary for their continued search for an escape. In contrast, Newt thinks that work is the only thing that will keep the Gladers hopeful and stop them from panicking. Finally, Minho believes that the Runners’ daily routine of navigating the Maze gives the rest of the group hope. While all three of the leaders at different times succumb to hope-killing fear (Alby even sacrifices himself in vain after losing all hope), together their approaches preserve hope in the Glade while preventing widespread panic from taking hold.

At the end of the novel, the Creators explain that they put the boys in the Maze in order to test if they would lose hope and stop fighting for survival. The novel ends by suggesting that hope is the most important factor in surviving dire situations.

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Hope Quotes in The Maze Runner

Below you will find the important quotes in The Maze Runner related to the theme of Hope.
Chapter 15 Quotes

“Order,” Newt continued. “Order. You say that bloody word over and over in your shuck head. Reason we’re all sane around here is ’cause we work our butts off and maintain order. Order’s the reason we put Ben out—can’t very well have loonies runnin’ around tryin’ to kill people, now can we? Order. Last thing we need is you screwin’ that up.”

Related Characters: Newt (speaker), Thomas, Ben
Page Number: 102
Explanation and Analysis:

The Gladers operate on a system of strict order--everyone has to do their part or risk banishment, which is the same as death. Newt is irritated when Thomas--still new to the way things work--complains that he finds his duties menial and boring, and he wants to become a Maze Runner. Newt sees this kind of ambition and individualism as dangerous, so he warns Thomas to devote himself to "order." For Newt, living in the Glade means working hard and accepting one's place.

One reason that Newt isn't sympathetic to Thomas is that he's been among the Gladers for longer than Thomas. When Thomas points out that it may not have been right to banishment Ben, Newt dismisses Thomas's concerns. The Gladers don't really believe in independence or mercy--they believe in work and order, and nothing else.


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Chapter 17 Quotes

“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!”

Related Characters: Minho (speaker), Thomas
Related Symbols: The Maze
Page Number: 117
Explanation and Analysis:

Thomas, Alby, and Minho have all been trapped in the Maze overnight. Thomas, who's new to the Maze, suggests that they try to escape from the prison of the Maze by climbing vines to safety. Minho, who's more experienced with the Maze than Thomas, rejects Thomas's suggestions as futile. Moreover, Minho gets angry with Thomas for being so optimistic about their chances of survival--his first instinct is to give up altogether.

The scene is an early sign that the Gladers' way of doing things simply doesn't work. Thomas is new to the Gladers, so he doesn't buy into their depressing outlook on life and work. Because he's optimistic, Thomas looks for a way out, trying his hardest to protect himself and his friends. Minho, on the other hand, gives up and (immediately afterwards) runs away.

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.

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’ 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 48 Quotes

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 analysis. Now it’s time for the last test. To escape.”

Related Characters: Thomas (speaker), Teresa, Newt
Page Number: 301
Explanation and Analysis:

Thomas is now clearly beginning to figure out what the Maze is designed to achieve. He doesn't have all the information, but he's guessed that the Maze is specifically designed to challenge the Gladers, separating the strong from the weak.

Throughout the passage, Thomas's tone remains optimistic--he wants to escape from the Maze at all costs. While others, such as Alby, seemed to think that it was better to remain a Glader, ignorant of the past, Thomas is confident that he and his friends' lives will be better once they escape. It's important to note that, as Thomas becomes more aware of his surroundings, he's also become more mature and confident in his own abilities--by exploring his environment, he's grown up.

Chapter 51 Quotes

“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.”

Related Characters: Alby (speaker), Thomas, Newt
Page Number: 312
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, it's revealed that Alby doesn't want Thomas and his friends to go back to the outside world--he wants everyone to remain in the Glade, where life is dangerous and strict, but at least ordered and familiar. Alby has been sabotaging any plans that could potentially lead to an escape--he's absolutely desperate to remain in his current home. Alby explains that he's seen visions of the outside world, in which existence looks cruel and frightening.

In spite of--or perhaps, because of--the fact that he's a leader among the Gladers, Alby is too afraid to leave the Glade forever. For all his pretensions of maturity and control, he's a child--too frightened of the outside world to explore it on his own, and longing to remain in his state of "ignorant bliss."

Chapter 55 Quotes

Minho continued. “Alby didn’t wanna go back to his old life. He freaking sacrificed himself for us—and they aren’t attacking, so maybe it worked. We’d be heartless if we wasted it.”

Related Characters: Minho (speaker), Thomas, Alby, Newt
Page Number: 334
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Alby, the leader of the Gladers, has just sacrificed himself to the deadly Grievers in order to protect his friends from danger. Alby has been frightened of leaving the Glade for some time now--yet here, he not only participates in the movement to explore the outside world; he even gives up his own life for the sake of the mission.

Alby's sacrifice, it could be argued, reinforces how opposed he was to leaving the Glade. He's exceptionally brave, and yet he's also deeply frightened of going back to his old life--a life that he's previously described as terrifying and horrible. Alby's act is a kind of noble suicide, designed to free himself from the pain of returning to the past, but also to help those who are determined to do so.

Chapter 60 Quotes

“All things happen for a purpose,” she said, any sign of malice now gone from her voice. “You must understand this.”

Related Characters: Thomas, Chuck
Page Number: 360
Explanation and Analysis:

Thomas, along with the other Gladers, have escaped the Maze and found the Creators. An unnamed woman confronts them, and then she reveals Gally, who throws a knife at Thomas--but Chuck throws himself in front of Thomas, sacrificing his life. As Thomas grows enraged and then despairing, the unnamed woman tells Thomas that everything happens for a reason.

Thomas isn't sure how to interpret the woman's advice (it's possible that, since his memories have been removed, he doesn't realize how cliched and banal it is). The woman's advice suggests that she sees the world through a scientific lens--she thinks that every event has a cause, which can be analyzed and broken down into its constituent parts. (This makes sense if she's a Creator of the Maze, an experiment essentially designed to make everything happen for a reason.) Although Thomas has often thought that the world is a random, unpredictable place, he's gradually come around to the woman's point of view, deciphering the mysteries of the Maze--but then realizing that the Maze itself was made by flawed humans.