The Gladers stare silently at the Creators until Minho threatens to break their faces. There’s a loud rumbling sound and a man and a woman come towards the Gladers. The woman wears a lab coat with the word “WICKED” stitched on her lapel and the man wears a hood that obscures his face. She congratulates them on completing the Maze, saying that she is surprised with how few of them died or gave up.
For the first time in the novel, an adult appears, signifying that the Gladers have symbolically entered the adult world. No longer children in the Glade or teenagers in the Maze, they have arrived in the outside world, becoming adults themselves.
She then tells the man to take off his hood. It’s Gally with tears streaming down his face. Minho angrily demands an explanation for what is going on and she says that she expects more maturity from someone who completed the Maze 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 from his back pocket and throws it at Thomas.
The woman reinforces the idea that the Gladers have become adults by saying that she expects Minho to be more mature for someone who passed the Maze Trials. Many cultures have rituals or tests that initiate children into adulthood and, in the novel, the Maze Trial is that test. (It’s kind of like a nightmarish version of a Bar-Mitzvah.)
In a flash, Chuck saves Thomas’ life by diving in front of the knife. As Thomas cradles Chuck in his arms, he wishes that Gally had attacked anyone but Chuck. Before dying, Chuck’s last words are “Find my mom. Tell her…” Thomas feels a dark and terrible rage swell inside of him as Chuck dies. He rushes at Gally and beats him to the sound of Gally’s crunching bones until Newt and Minho pull him off. Thomas goes back to Chuck’s lifeless body and weeps long and loud for the first friend he made in the Glade.
So far Chuck has been the most childish character in the novel, but this scene shows how much he’s grown up. No longer needing protection from Thomas, he sacrifices his own life to save his friend. While fear and hopelessness caused Alby to sacrifice himself, a pure desire to protect Thomas motivates Chuck’s sacrifice. The novel will ultimately use his sacrifice as a model for the right kind of self-sacrifice.