A teenage boy awakes in a moving pitch-black elevator. The boy remembers that his name is Thomas but has no memory of how he got into the elevator or who he is. He remembers a vague outline of people and events, but all his memories feel blurred and beyond his grasp.
In ancient Greek, the word for “truth” is “aletheia,” which translates to “unforgetting.” The Greeks saw truth as an act of remembering. In the same vein, Thomas must uncover his past to find the truth about his identity.
When the elevator stops, Thomas bangs on the walls, screaming for help. Suddenly, the roof of the elevator opens and a sliver of light momentarily blinds him. Thomas hears the voices of teenagers referring to him as a “klunk” and a “Greenie.”
This scene mirrors the moment of birth. Like a newborn, Thomas is brought into his new life with no memories or identity. This is the first indication that the novel is an allegory for growing up.
As Thomas’ eyes adjust to the light, the teenagers lower a rope into the elevator. They help pull Thomas up. Once outside of the elevator, Thomas is flooded with fear and confusion. One of the boys calls him a “shank” and welcomes him to a place called the Glade.
This scene uses the metaphor of “coming into the light” as a way of symbolically showing Thomas at the beginning of his journey from darkness and ignorance to light and truth.