"It was a wasteland. In front of him, a flat pan of dry and lifeless earth stretched as far as he could see. Not a single tree. Not a bush. No hills or valleys. Just an orange-yellow seat of dust and rocks; wavering currents of heated air boiled on the horizon like steam, floating upward, as if any life out there were melting toward the cloudless and pale blue sky" (95)
When Thomas and his friends emerge from the Flat Trans tunnel to the wasteland of the Scorch, the terrible and sad landscape frightens them. This environment is described in detail, and will even be internalized by Thomas and his friends as they work their way through it. It is a very important part of this Phase of the Trials. The environment itself, like the Maze, is a factor for danger. The scorched landscape is like another character, with all of its various traits.
"A man stood there, just on the edge of her flashlight's range. He was like an apparition - there was something unreal about him. He leaned to the right, his left foot and leg jiggling slightly, like he had a nervous tic. His left arm also twitched, the hand clenching and unclenching. He wore a dark suit that had probably once been nice, though now it was filthy and tattered. Water or something more foul soaked both knees of the pants" (183)
A Crank attacks Thomas and Brenda in the Underneath of the Scorch. The man is described as though he weren't real. This is true, because the man is no longer a "real person" anymore: he is something else, something inhuman. This is also reflected in the sad state of the man's outfit: he used to be a real, working human, but now even his pants are soaked. This image is particularly frightening because it occurs when they are underground. This indicates the significant terror and horror of the Flare and what it does to people, and what infected people then go on to do.
"Panic seized Thomas now. Two people, dressed in the strangest outfits he'd ever seen. One-piece, baggy and dark green - letters he couldn't read scrawled across the chest. Goggles covering their faces. No, not goggles. Some kind of gas mask. They looked hideous and alien. They looked evil, like giant, demented, human-eating insects wrapped in plastic" (238)
Thomas describes the medical personnel from WICKED in very negative terms. He is taken up by these people when he needs to have his bullet wound treated. Instead of appreciating this procedure, Thomas sees something that is visually closer than ever to what WICKED really is. WICKED has only ever been evil to him thus far; the goggle-masks also make the doctors/operators look demented, which is interesting because insanity is a major concern of all the characters in the story.
"It looked like the thing had a lightbulb glued to its arm. The monster continued to emerge. A leg flopped out, its food a fleshy mass, four knobs of toes wriggling as much as its fingers. And on the knee, another one of those impossible orange spheres of light, seemingly growing right out of its skin" (328)
The monsters that WICKED pits against its subjects are always strange, horrible amalgamations of living creature and machine. Like the Grievers from the Maze, the strange bulb monsters that fight Thomas and his friends in the Scorch have machine parts embedded inside them. To kill them, Thomas and his friends have to smash the light bulbs. The light bulbs are like a source of life for the monsters. Smashing the lights might also symbolize how hope for Thomas and his friends continues to get "smashed" again and again by WICKED.
The Scorch Trials Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Scorch Trials is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.