Confused but curious, Thomas starts to take note of his surrounding. He stands in the middle of a group of fifty teenagers of varying ages and races. Thomas realizes he’s standing in an open expanse several times larger than a football field. The expanse is surrounded by four stone walls hundreds of feet high and covered with thick ivy. The walls form a square around the courtyard. In the middle of each wall is a narrow passageway.
The giant expanse, called The Glade, is beautiful and temperate, an idyllic environment that evokes the Garden of Eden. If exiting the elevator represents birth, then the Glade represents the next stage of life: childhood. But this version of childhood, like any real childhood, is not perfect. The walls around the Glade suggest that the Gladers are either keeping out a dangerous force or someone is keeping them in like prisoners.
Thomas asks where he is but the boys pay no attention to him, talking to each other about whether he’ll turn out to be a “keeper” or “a slopper.” While they talk, Thomas notices a garden of vegetables, fruit trees, and pens with domesticated sheep and pigs. One of the boys steps forward and introduces himself as Alby. Noticing that all the other boys look at him with reverence, Thomas figures out that Alby must be their leader. Thomas notices that Alby is wearing jeans, a t-shirt, and a digital watch. These clothes surprise Thomas because they seem so normal.
The teenagers in the Glade seem to be acting like self-sufficient adults. They have cultivated a sustainable source of food and established a political hierarchy, with Alby as their well respected leader. The systems they have put in place have brought self-sufficiency and order to their society, which otherwise may have descended into chaos.
Thomas asks Alby to tell him where they are. Alby obliges, sitting down in front of him, which causes all the other boys to sit too. He says that Thomas is the first “greenbean” to arrive since a boy named Nick was killed. Another boy, Newt, interrupts Alby, saying that he’s going to scare Thomas even more if he starts by telling him about Nick’s death. Confused and angry, Thomas demands to know who sent him here and why. Alby forcibly pulls Thomas to his feet, yelling that if Thomas were told everything right now, he would die of fear on the spot. Alby says he’ll give him more information tomorrow and marches off, leaving Newt to comfort Thomas. Newt points out that everyone in the Glade arrived through the same dark box. Newt says that in time, Thomas will get accustomed to his new life.
Alby’s ability to command respect and obedience becomes more pronounced when the other Gladers follow his lead after he sits down. Newt appears to be his second-in-command, giving him advice on how to deal with Thomas. This scene shows the differences in their leadership styles. Alby becomes aggressive when he thinks Thomas is stepping out of line. Newt, however, is more compassionate, comforting Thomas after all the other boys leave.
Suddenly an ear-piercing scream comes from one of the nearby buildings. Newt goes off to help and tells Thomas to find Chuck in order to find out about his sleeping arrangements. After Newt runs off, Thomas sits on the floor and closes his eyes, wishing this new life were just a terrible dream.
The screams suggest that beneath the idyllic surface of the Glade might lie something sinister. Just as even the most seemingly perfect childhood must have moments of pain and suffering, the Glade’s apparent perfection might have a dark side.