Assistant Director Janson of WICKED is a human being with a proper name, and yet Thomas and his friends first dubbed him 'the Rat Man' before they found out his real name. They call him the Rat Man because of the his physical likeness to a rat; however, the name itself is a symbol of Janson's character and the organization that Janson in turn represents. The rat is an animal that is often a literary symbol of evil: it is associated with filth, deception, and poison. WICKED and Janson's actions reflect all of these values. They continually tell lies to the teenagers that they are using, and use inhumane methods to achieve their results.
Symbol: the Berg
The Berg is a symbol of the government/WICKED's power and looming presence. Like its name suggests, it is large and inaccessible, "cold" and distant - like an iceberg. The Berg is also the only form of aircraft or air travel that really exists in the series. Like the powerful and ever-hovering government, the Berg is up in the air, looking down from a high point onto the suffering peoples of the earth. It can choose when it wants to intervene, and whether it wants to hurt or to save. The Berg is a machine, not a human, and is incapable of feeling. This is again a reflection of the government of which it is a device–a government that has become routinely more machine-like, desensitized to the sufferings of the people it was constructed to serve.
The continual pattern of lies and truth really comes to full visibility in The Scorch Trials. WICKED's constant lying to its subjects is a layered approach, with truth often being a single element in what the subjects find out from WICKED representatives. For example, the Rat Man may tell Thomas and his friends a partial truth, or a truth that can lead to even more lies. One early instance of this is when he tells Thomas and his friends that they should not believe what they see or what their minds perceive (pg. 56). This statement in itself can be interpreted as a lie. Furthermore, sometimes a fact is not so much a lie as it is simply a hidden truth. WICKED's mysterious nature throughout the entire series comes from this usage of lies and manipulation, layered in complex ways.
Motif: Flowing materials
In the Scorch, the air and ground are blazing hot and the atmosphere is stagnant and unbearable. However, even in this sort of landscape, there is frequent reference to things that seem to flow or flap in the breeze. Among these examples are the fabrics that Thomas and his friends don to prevent sunburn. Similar fabrics are found on the bodies of the two Cranks who come up to check out who the Gladers are as they make their way to the city. When Teresa has to trick Thomas in the shack, she first comes out with her hair streaming out behind her beautifully. Lastly, the Safe Haven sign planted in the desert ground is simply a flag, flapping and flowing in the breeze. These images are in stark contrast to their static surroundings. They are a reminder of the ability of life to survive even on such a scorched Earth.
The Scorch is the most burned-out area of the Earth, made this way by the fiery sun flares that came to devastate it. Furthermore, it now continues to suffer from lightning storms. These lightning storms are so fierce that their bolts strike the ground and strike people. Minho, for example, is burned by one such bolt. These are natural occurrences of fire, but there are unnatural occurrences as well. When Thomas is shot by the Crank's gun, he can only describe the excruciating pain as a fire ripping through his shoulder. This kind of imagery and these natural occurrences are a constant reminder not only of the Earth that Thomas inhabits, but also of the kind of heated Trials he and his friends are going through.
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.