The Death Cure

The Death Cure Themes


Unpredictability seems to be the only rule as Thomas escapes from the clutches of WICKED. In The Death Cure, there are finally no rules. A consequence of this lacks of rules is that Thomas cannot simply try to "play the game" or go along with WICKED's trials: now he must truly try to think for himself, and stumbles on new discoveries along the way. For example, he doesn't discover the 'Final Candidate' business and why he is the Final Candidate until midway through the story. Just as WICKED is unpredictable, so Thomas will also be forced to take unprecedented actions that he never would have thought of taking earlier. He must adapt to his environment as the story develops.


Tied in strongly with the common thread of unpredictability in his life is Thomas's constant relationship with fate. In The Death Cure, most of WICKED's subjects are able to escape from WICKED's direct control. However, there is an open question: just how much were Thomas and his friends really able to escape WICKED? After all, Thomas only finds "paradise" at the end of the novel by obeying the Chancellor's instructions. This challenges the reader to consider whether Thomas is truly able to escape fate, even when he appears to be finally free.


Authoritarianism permeates The Death Cure: not only do we have WICKED operating trials and hunting Thomas, but we also have the anarchic regime of the Right Arm as a counterpoint to WICKED. No matter which way Thomas and his friends turn, they are confronted by powerful organizations that bend the will of their members to their overall objectives. It is no wonder, then, that the reader oftentimes questions whether it is even possible for people like Thomas to make decisions and act as free individuals.


Thomas and his friends are not only enmeshed in lies throughout The Death Cure: they also constantly face hypocrisy. For instance, for all his insistence on the ethical high ground, Janson is actually pursuing the cure out of self-interest–he wants to cure his own affliction with the Flare. Further, as discussed in the above theme, the Right Arm subordinates its members to its overall organizational mission, rendering the institution very similar to WICKED in spite of its stated purpose of destroying WICKED. It is even harder for people to assert themselves as free individuals in a world where everyone is constantly undermining themselves through hypocrisy.

Morality and Ethics

The question of what is right and what is wrong constantly underpins the events of The Death Cure. Janson argues that the ends justify the means, effectively channelling a long-standing philosophical debate about what the right ethical framework really is for deciding how to conduct ourselves in the world. On the other hand, Thomas and his friends must constantly confront what it means to be part of a human experiment. Is human experimentation ever ethical–for instance, when the fate of the species is at stake? The book invites the reader to consider these and other challenging ethical questions. Check out the "Other" section of this Classic Note for more on the ethical theories at play in this book.


The stakes are higher than ever in The Death Cure, as Janson races against time with his own disease, Thomas and his friends race to freedom, and the Right Arm races to destroy WICKED. In such a fast-paced and action-packed series, the narrative of this entry is able to up the ante on desperation by promising that the overarching, guiding conflicts of the trilogy will finally resolve themselves. The Maze Runner trilogy here capitalizes on all of its forward momentum to create a powerful page-turning effect for the reader.


Can things ever return to normal? This narrative doesn't seem to offer a definitive answer. Thomas may seem to reach paradise at the end of the story, but it isn't clear whether this constitutes a return to "normalcy," strictly speaking. Moreover, many things fall apart in The Death Cure that can never return to their former states. These include Thomas's friendship with Teresa, and Newt's diagnosis of the Flare. At many times in the story, Thomas and his friends must simply force with the inevitability of a lack of normalcy as best as they can.