The Maze Runner


James Dashner

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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.
Sacrifice Theme Icon

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.

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Sacrifice Quotes in The Maze Runner

Below you will find the important quotes in The Maze Runner related to the theme of Sacrifice.
Chapter 18 Quotes

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.

Related Characters: Thomas
Related Symbols: The Maze
Page Number: 119
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 26 Quotes

“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.”

Related Characters: Thomas (speaker), Alby, Newt, Frypan
Related Symbols: The Maze
Page Number: 166
Explanation and Analysis:
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:
Chapter 45 Quotes

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.

Related Characters: Thomas
Related Symbols: The Changing
Page Number: 291
Explanation and Analysis:
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:
Chapter 54 Quotes

“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.”

Related Characters: Newt (speaker)
Page Number: 328
Explanation and Analysis:
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:
Chapter 62 Quotes

He died saving you, Teresa said. He made the choice himself. Just don’t ever waste it.

Related Characters: Teresa (speaker), Thomas, Chuck
Page Number: 371
Explanation and Analysis: