Throughout the novel, a tension exists between the benefits of order for maintaining a self-sustaining society and the necessary changes that must occur for the Gladers to survive the Maze. Thrust into this mysterious and dangerous world, the boys use order and rules as a way of preventing panic and despair from taking hold of their lives. With a rigid system of laws, a well-defined leadership hierarchy, and daily work assignments, the boys set up a functioning society despite their young age and extreme circumstances. Thomas quickly learns the value of order when he finds relief from his sense of hopelessness about ever leaving the Maze by committing himself to the daily work routine in the Glade.
Although order provides stability, the Glade’s systems of laws and punishments verges on being cruel. The Gladers banish Ben for attacking Thomas despite the fact that Ben was in a state of obvious mental distress during the attack. The laws are so rigid that the Gladers don’t take into account the circumstances of Ben’s attack, banishing him into the Maze, which is effectively a death sentence. When Ben, terrified and crying, pleads for mercy and forgiveness, Thomas sympathizes with the boy and realizes that the cruelty of the punishment is disproportionate to Ben’s crime. Most of the Gladers, however, take pleasure in banishing Ben, showing how their desire to uphold order and discipline has become stronger than their sense of empathy or mercy for their fellow Glader.
Thomas, however, initiates necessary changes that disrupt the normal routine and order of things. Although it’s against the rules to be in the Maze after dark, Thomas goes inside to save Alby and Minho. Even though he saves them, the other Gladers force him to spend a day in their jail for breaking their rules. Thomas also gets frustrated with the Runners’ attitude towards solving the Maze. Everyday they try the same thing, never changing the routine. Despite their initial resistance to change, Thomas eventually convinces them to forgo the stability of their routine when he helps lead most of the Gladers into the Maze. This break in the normal routine leads to their escape from the Maze. In contrast to those willing to change, the Gladers who stayed behind and stuck with the routine most likely ended up dead.
Stability and Order vs. Change and Chaos ThemeTracker
Stability and Order vs. Change and Chaos Quotes in The Maze Runner
“Out there’s the Maze,” Newt whispered, eyes wide as if in a trance. “Everything we do—our whole life, Greenie—revolves around the Maze. Every lovin’ second of every lovin’ day we spend in honor of the Maze, tryin’ to solve somethin’ that’s not shown us it has a bloody solution, ya know? And we want to show ya why it’s not to be messed with. Show ya why them buggin’ walls close shut every night. Show ya why you should never, never find your butt out there.”
“Think about it. Our memories are wiped. We live inside a place that seems to have no way out, surrounded by bloodthirsty monster-guards. Doesn’t that sound like a prison to you?” As he said it out loud, it sounded more and more possible. Nausea trickled into his chest.
“This ain’t got nothin’ to do with no hate or like or love or friends or anything. All we care about is surviving. Drop your sissy side and start using that shuck brain if you got one.”
Alby spoke in a loud, almost ceremonious voice, looking at no one and everyone at the same time. “Ben of the Builders, you’ve been sentenced to Banishment for the attempted murder of Thomas the Newbie. The Keepers have spoken, and their word ain’t changing. And you ain’t coming back. Ever.”
“Order,” Newt continued. “Order. You say that bloody word over and over in your shuck head. Reason we’re all sane around here is ’cause we work our butts off and maintain order. Order’s the reason we put Ben out—can’t very well have loonies runnin’ around tryin’ to kill people, now can we? Order. Last thing we need is you screwin’ that up.”
“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.”
Newt’s head appeared at the little glassless window, looking through the bars, a smirk on his face. “Nice reward for breakin’ the rules. You saved some lives, Tommy, but ya still need to learn—”
“Yeah, I know. Order.”
“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.”