In The Maze Runner, many characters risk their lives for the sake of saving those around them in various acts of self-sacrifice. Thomas risks his own life, entering into the Maze to save Alby and Minho. In contrast to Thomas’s act of bravery, Minho leaves behind the two of them in order to save his own life. Like Thomas, Gally sacrifices himself on the night of the Grievers’ first raid so that no one else would be killed. Although Gally may have seemed selfish and arrogant for most of the novel, this sacrifice is an act of redemption that makes up for his past behaviors.
In the end, most of the Gladers are willing to risk their lives in order to protect Thomas and Teresa as they look for an exit to the Maze. Although half of the Gladers die, their sacrifice makes it possible for the rest of them to escape. Thomas, however, wonders if the escape was worth their sacrifice because he thinks it’s unfair that half of them died while the other half got to live. Thomas’ negative feelings about sacrifice become most pronounced when Chuck sacrifices his life to save Thomas’. At first Thomas feels guilty about Chuck’s sacrifice, but Teresa tells him it was Chuck’s choice to throw himself in front of the knife. She tells Thomas that now he has a responsibly not to waste Chuck’s sacrifice. Thomas agrees and comes to the realization that sacrifice is a tragic but noble act as long as people have the right to choose to sacrifice themselves.
In contrast to these self-sacrifices, the author structures the novel around a sacrifice that is not chosen by the people who have to make it. The Creators took teenagers, wiped their memories, and put them in the Maze without their consent. Although the Creators knew that many of the boys would die, they were willing to sacrifice the boys’ lives for what they thought was the greater good of humanity—this logic is presented as morally dubious within the novel, as it amounts to using people regardless of hoped-for ends of that use. Thus, sacrifice only appears as a positive act when the person doing the sacrifice has had the opportunity to make that choice for him or herself.
Sacrifice Quotes in The Maze Runner
Thomas rocked back on his heels, then ran his arm across his forehead, wiping away the sweat. And at that moment, in the space of only a few seconds, he learned a lot about himself. About the Thomas that was before. He couldn’t leave a friend to die.
“I didn’t do anything wrong. All I know is I saw two people struggling to get inside these walls and they couldn’t make it. To ignore that because of some stupid rule seemed selfish, cowardly, and...well, stupid. If you want to throw me in jail for trying to save someone’s life, then go ahead. Next time I promise I’ll point at them and laugh, then go eat some of Frypan’s dinner.”
“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!”
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.
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 more...final analysis. Now it’s time for the last test. To escape.”
“After two years of being treated like mice, tonight we’re making a stand. Tonight we’re taking the fight back to the Creators, no matter what we have to go through to get there. Tonight the Grievers better be scared.”
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.”
He died saving you, Teresa said. He made the choice himself. Just don’t ever waste it.