There are a variety of ways in which one could interpret the true, paradise-like safe haven that Thomas reaches at the end of The Death Cure, but–one way or another–it invites interpretation as deeply symbolic. One possible way of interpreting the symbol is to compare it with the false safe haven reached at the end of The Scorch Trials: at the false safe haven, Thomas was still trapped in the manipulative clutches of WICKED; at the true safe haven, he is finally free–and safe–from their layers of intricate lies.
Symbol: the Crank with Bliss
When the bounty hunter calls out the Crank for illegally using Bliss, the Crank claims that he didn't know Bliss was illegal. We can view this event as a microcosm of prejudice and manipulation that pervade the dystopian world of The Death Cure. Just as the Crank is persecuted for doing something he doesn't recognize as illegal, so too are Thomas and his friends hunted and manipulated by WICKED for reasons beyond their understanding.
Lies, combined with doubt about the true nature of WICKED and the history of the Scorch, are constant motifs in the Maze Runner series. Especially in light of the memory modification, Thomas is often at a loss when it comes to determining the true nature of the trials, or who his true allies are. One example of WICKED's lies is Janson's own affliction with the Flare. Janson never tells the subjects this, nor does he tell them that this is why he is so desperate to find a Cure.
The usage of knives appears and reappears a number of times in The Death Cure. Firstly, when Thomas finds out that Gally is still alive, he is constantly reminded of the violent, bloody way that Gally killed Chuck - with a knife. This makes it more unsettling when Thomas, under WICKED's control, grabs a knife to try to stab Hans, the doctor who is helping remove his control chip. Lastly, Thomas kills the Rat Man's associate at the WICKED facilities with a knife. In this moment, Thomas even thinks of Gally, and imitates the way Gally had thrown the knife. Thomas thus delivers a fatal blow to the WICKED associate. There is also much talk about surgeries in The Death Cure, and about putting people "under the knife." These surgeries include the one to remove the Gladers' memory Swipes, and the final surgery that the Rat Man wants to perform on Thomas. Knives represent how desperate times have gotten, since they are close-range, hand-held weapons.
While there is much usage of knives and other close-range, hand-to-hand combat weapons in The Death Cure, there is also a very high usage of guns. These include the use of Launchers, which shoot electrocuting grenades that are very painful. They put people out of action, but do not necessarily kill them. Later on, many of the characters begin carrying guns in defense. To save Thomas from a bounty hunter, the Rat Man uses machine guns from a cop vehicle to shoot down the bounty hunter. Unlike knives, guns symbolize a certain distance between attacker and victim. This could represent the distances that have been brought out between characters as they are under stress, as well as the distance between WICKED and its subjects. Finally, Thomas must kill his good friend Newt with a gun. Thomas kills him with a gun from a distance, finally realizing the distance that has come between himself and his now insane friend.
The Death Cure Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Death Cure is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.