The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner Summary and Analysis of Chapters 6 to 10


Ch 6

Thomas is jostled awake the next morning by Newt. Everyone else is still asleep, but Newt tells Thomas that he has to show him something before everyone else is up. Thomas follows Newt, tiptoeing amongst the other sleeping boys. Newt leads him to the courtyard and breaks out into a run. Thomas follows, running as well, unsure if he can trust Newt or not but knowing he has little choice. Newt leads Thomas to one of the walls and pulls back the vines that grow on it, revealing a small window.

Newt tells Thomas that they want to show him why the walls close every night and why he should be glad that he is on this side of them when they do. Thomas can make out something moving outside the window, giving off a strange light. He puts his face to the window and sees a large, bulbous creature about the size of a cow. It is a hideous mix of machine and animal. Its appendages are adorned with instruments like buzz saws and long rods. It charges the window, sending Thomas to the floor. But the window holds. Thomas asks Newt what they are. “Grievers”, he answers.

Thomas is no longer sure he wants to be a Runner. Newt tells him that he now knows what is in the Maze and that he is expected to help them. “What’s that?”, asks Thomas. “Find our way out, Greenie,” Newt says. “Solve the buggin’ Maze and find our way home.”

A few hours later Thomas is sitting at a rickety picnic table outside the Homestead. All he can think about is the Grievers. To get the image out of his head he begins to think instead about the Runners. Chuck has been trying to start a conversation with him but Thomas just wants to be left alone. He is trying to understand the sheer impossibility of his situation and the Maze itself. How come it hasn’t been solved already? How long have these kids been there? Most importantly, why is this happening? Nothing about the Glade made sense to him, but he is sure of one thing. He is supposed to be a Runner. Somehow, he knows this to be true.

He is interrupted by a tap on his shoulder. He turns to see Alby who is ready to take him on his tour of the area. Thomas is eager to learn as much as he can but Alby tells him he doesn’t want to hear any questions until the end of the tour. Chuck asks if he can come too but Alby reminds him he has work to do. Thomas feels sorry for Chuck and the way others treat him. He decides to keep the sinking feeling that he has been here before to himself.

Ch 7

Alby begins the tour at the Box. Alby tells Thomas that a new boy is sent to the Glade every month. Every week new supplies are sent in, though the Glade is largely self-sufficient. Alby explains that they know nothing about the Box or who sends it or controls it. On one occasion they tried to send a Greenie back through it but it would not move until the boy was removed from it. Thomas wonders what lays under the doors when the elevator isn’t there but does not ask any questions.

Alby points out the four parts of the Glade: the Gardens, the Blood House, the Homestead, and the Deadheads.

The Gardens are where the food is grown, the Blood House where the animals are slaughtered. Alby explains that the Homestead has continued to grow in size as wood is sent in through the Box. The Deadheads is a forest area which also houses the Glade’s graveyard.

Alby explains that Thomas will begin working in each sector until it can be determined what he is best at. The job titles have names like Slopper, Bagger, Bricknick, and Track-hoe. Thomas is most disturbed by the mention of a graveyard.

Alby leads Thomas on. The sun finally appears overhead. Thomas notices that it is more orange than he remembers. Alby also mentions that it never rains here. Alby leads them to the South Door. Thomas notices the red lights flickering in the woods. He is still unsure as to what they are. The walls are astounding in height. They appear to be as old as anything Thomas can imagine. “Out there’s the Maze”, says Alby. Alby reveals that he has been in the Glade for two years. Those that were here before are now dead. The walls of the Maze move every night so mapping it is very difficult. Alby gestures to the concrete bunker by the Box. That’s why the Runners return there. They are attempting to map the Maze. No one but Runners are allowed out there, says Alby. If Thomas were to go out there, Alby warns, he would be killed by the other boys upon his return, if he returned. Thomas is still sure that he wants to be one, that he will be one.

Thomas spots another Beetle Blade running along the wall. He asks Alby what it is. Alby begins to explain that it is a Beetle Blade, made by the Creators to watch them, but a loud alarm begins to sound, cutting him off. Thomas begins to panic but sees that Alby is calm. He only seems confused. Thomas can’t stand it anymore. “Alby! What’s going on?”, he shouts.

“The Box, shuck-face, the Box!”, is all Alby says in response. The two set off for the middle of the Glade. Thomas sees other boys gathering around the Box. What is going on?, he wonders. Newt informs him that another Greenie has arrived. “So?”, says Thomas. Newt tells him that they’ve never had two new people arrive in a month, let alone on consecutive days.

Ch 8

The alarm finally ceases after two minutes. A crowd has gathered in the middle of the courtyard around the steel doors, waiting. Chuck jokes that perhaps someone else has been sent to replace Thomas. Thomas doesn’t appreciate the joke, nor how Chuck continues to call him “Greenie” instead of by his actual name. Still, Chuck is growing on him.

After Chuck calls him “Greenie” again, Thomas grabs him and threatens to throw him down the hole after the Box leaves. An idea forms in his mind. He asks if anyone has ever tried to go down the hole after the Box leaves. Chuck answers before Thomas can even finish his sentence. He tells Thomas that the Box simply doesn’t move unless it is empty. Thomas remembers that Alby told him that already but he meant going down the hole after the Box left. Chuck tells him that they have tried that too. The hole is so deep, seemingly endless. They even tried throwing items down it but never heard them crash. Thomas continues to think of other possibilities. Did they ever use a rope? Chuck reminds him they have no rope. Did they ever make one? Chuck says they once used the ivy to make a rope. He wasn’t there, but he tells Thomas he heard that the kid who went down didn’t get ten feet before something swooped through the air and cut him in half.

Thomas laughs. He doesn’t believe that at all. Chuck tells him that he has seen the kid’s bones. Thomas waits for Chuck to smile or laugh. He doesn’t. He tells Thomas that he doesn’t lie.

They approach the steel doors with the rest of the boys. Thomas asks if it could just be supplies or food that are coming up. Chuck says that the alarm doesn’t sound for those deliveries. He spots a face in the crowd, glaring at them. It is Gally. “He does not like you, man”, says Chuck. The feeling is mutual, thinks Thomas.

The boys move on. Chuck asks Thomas why he doesn’t ask Gally what his problem is. Thomas wants to appear brave but tells Chuck that Gally has many more allies in the Glade than he does. Chuck nods but states that he thinks Thomas is smarter and faster than Gally. One of the boys standing in front of them turns and looks them with an annoyed expression. He is likely a friend of Gally’s.

Alby and Newt appear from the Homestead. Seeing them reminds Thomas of Ben. He asks Chuck what the Changing is. Chuck is unsure but says that he knows that after one is stung by a Griever they are different. Thomas pushes him for more information but Chuck shushes him.

The elevator arrives as Alby and Newt push their way to the front of the crowd. They open the doors and Alby looks inside. “No way”, he murmurs.

There is confusion and hysterics around the elevator. The other boys inquire what is wrong. Alby turns to Thomas and asks him pointedly what is going on. Thomas is dumbfounded, and scared. How should he know? The crowd continues to ask Alby what is happening. Newt steps forward and announces, “It’s a girl.”

The crowd reacts with confusion and excitement. One boy calls dibs on the girl. Others ask how old she is. Newt shushes them. “I think she’s dead.”

Some of the boys gather vine so that Alby and Newt can lower themselves down and retrieve the girl’s body. One of the boys holding the vine is Gally. Thomas watches him closely. His eyes are suddenly fixed with a dark fascination. Thomas is more afraid of him then than before.

The girl’s body is lifted out of the Box and brought to a large stone in the courtyard. The crowd quickly surges around her. Alby and Newt follow and cut through the other boys. Alby calls Thomas over. Thomas feels strange, even guilty, though he doesn’t know why. He hasn’t done anything wrong, has he? The girl has dark black hair and very pale skin. She is beautiful, for a dead girl, thinks Thomas. Alby asks if Thomas knows her. Thomas says he does not, though Alby asks him again.

Thomas begins to doubt himself. Did he have something to do with this? Did he know this girl before? Before he can even ponder these questions the girl sits up, scaring everyone around her. Her blue eyes open and dart back and forth as she takes deep breaths. She mutters something indecipherable then utters one clear sentence: “Everything is going to change.” Her eyes roll back in her head and she falls over, but her right fist stays up, pointed up at the sky. In it, she clutches a piece of paper. Newt manages to get it out of her hand and spreads it out on the ground to read. Scrawled in thick black letters they can read the following words: She’s the last one. Ever.

Ch. 9

A thick silence hung over the Gladers. Alby calls out for Med-jacks, the medical personnel of the Glade. Med-jacks. Thomas is sure he has heard the word before but is quickly knocked aside by two boys who come through to examine the girl. One of them, the shorter one, Clint, begins feeling for a pulse and listening for a heartbeat. The others boys joke around. “Who said Clint had first shot at her?” Thomas cannot believe they are joking at a time like this. Clint announces that the girl seems stable but has a slow hearbeat. He and the other Med-jack, Jeff, take her to the Homestead.

Alby orders them to place her in the room next to Ben’s. He warns the other boys that if one of them even touches her that boy will spend the night in the Maze with the Grievers. Thomas is impressed to hear this. It is the first thing Alby has ever said that he was glad to hear.

As the girl is taken away by the Med-jacks, Thomas is sure that she and he are connected somehow. He is sure he must become a Runner, but isn’t sure why. Alby and Newt ask Thomas about the girl again. He states again that he does not know her, but Alby and Newt are suspicious, as are the other boys. Alby tells Newt to call a Gathering. As they depart, Thomas asks Chuck what a Gathering is. Chuck tells him that a Gathering is a meeting held by the Keepers when something strange or terrible happens.

Thomas’s stomach rumbles. He never finished breakfast. He asks Chuck if they can get food somewhere. Chuck is surprised. “Seeing that chick wig out made you hungry? You must be more psycho than I thought.”

Chuck takes Thomas to the kitchen and gives him a sandwich and some carrots. After eating, Thomas begins to feel much better. He decides he will try to stop whining and instead deal with things. He finishes his sandwich and again asks Chuck what it would take to become a Runner. Chuck rolls his eyes. He sarcastically suggests Thomas go ask the Runners when they return what it would take to join them.

Thomas asks again about the concrete building in the Courtyard where the Runners congregate at the end of the day. Chuck tells him that they are trying to map the layout of the Maze. Thomas wonders how large the Maze is that even after two years no one has been able to map it. He remembers what Alby said about the moving walls. What if they are sentenced to be here forever? That word, sentenced, triggers another thought. What if they are all criminals? Is this their prison? Chuck reminds him that they are mostly all barely teenagers. What could they have done that would necessitate this kind of imprisonment?

Thomas is tired of not knowing what’s going on. He leaves Chuck to go exploring, walking around the Glade. He sees boys pulling weeds and other tending the garden. He realizes how well maintained the Gladers keep their home, how clean it is and how awful it could be if everyone was lazy. Perhaps it is not so bad.

Thomas enters the wooded part of the Glade and is startled by another Beetle Blade scurrying along the ground and up a tree. It moves like a lizard and seems to have six legs. The Beetle Blade appears to scan the area with a red light and for a moment Thomas is sure he saw the word WICKED written on its side in green letters. He decides he must investigate this and runs after the metallic creature before finding himself in a thick patch of trees where it is quite dark.

Ch 10

Thomas finds himself in almost total darkness. The thick canopy of the trees blocks out the sunlight. Thomas chases after the Beetle Blade, crashing through the thick underbrush. Its red light glows brighter in the growing darkness. He sees it dart up a large tree but the by the time he gets near it, the Beetle Blade has disappeared. He has lost it.

He hears a twig snap somewhere off to his right. He calls out, identifying himself, but there is no reply. Another snap, this time louder than the first, echoes through the dark wood. Thomas begins to move toward the sound until he is sure that no one is there. He steps around a large oak tree and stops cold. He has reached the graveyard.

Thomas can see a dozen or so hastily hung and painted crosses marking the graves. He reads some of the names: Stephen, George. He wonders who they were.

Another glint of something silvery catches his eye. This time it is not a Beetle Blade. One of the graves is covered with a sheet of plastic or glass so that one can see into the grave. Inside is half a rotting body. Thomas remembers the story of the boy who tried to go down the Box hole. Etched on the glass are the words “Let this half-shank be a warning to all: You can’t escape through the Box Hole."

Thomas almost laughs at the absurdity of the situation but feels bad about doing so. Another twig snaps nearby, much closer than before. He stands up, scanning the darkness. Whoever is there begins to move towards him, running rapidly, crashing through the branches. He catches a glimpse of a skinny boy with pale skin and enormous eyes. The attacker leaps onto Thomas and sends him crashing to the ground on top of grave marker.

Thomas pushes and swats at the boy, whose teeth snap open and closed, producing a terrifying clacking sound. The boy bites Thomas’s shoulder, producing a searing pain. With all his strength he pushes the boy off. He gets his first good look at the boy. It is Ben, the sick boy.


Dashner wastes little time in exposing Thomas to the frightening Grievers in the Maze. His description of the creatures is a bit vague. They seem to have no discernible shape, head, face, or appendages. Instead, they are covered in all types of instruments of death. This odd appearance, incomprehensible in many ways, further serves to identify the Grievers as totally alien entities. There is nothing even remotely animal-like about them, let alone humanoid. They are like single-celled organisms blown up to immense proportions and then armed with every sharp tool or weapon imaginable. This ambiguous shape and description differentiates it from other monsters we may have encountered in other books or films. It also heightens the mystery around the Grievers and allows readers to project their own fears onto these creatures.

Consider also the somewhat absurd nature of Thomas's situation. He has woken in a strange sort of prison with no memories of his prior life. This prison is surrounded by a maze and the maze is populated with monsters. Dashner's set-up of the nature of the Glade and the Maze also help him to heighten the mystery inherent in it. Some see a parallel between the world of the Glade and that of the transition between teenage and adult life. As we age and grow into young adults the social ordeal of high school and our own developing awareness of the fallibility of adults can make for a disillusioning experience. To move past these obstacles and navigate our way into the unknown, just as the Gladers must navigate the Maze, requires courage and a willingness to confront our fears. Along these lines we can see that Thomas is also questioning the status quo in the Glade, much to the chagrin of those who have been there for some time. This is also a common characteristic of teens and young adults as they come to terms with the larger world.

These characteristics take on an archetypal role in the character of Thomas. He emerges as an archetypal hero figure gradually over the course of the novel in the style of psychoanalyst Carl Jung and novelist Joseph Campbell. Consider the common characteristics of this archetype and those possessed by Thomas. Thomas has left behind a family or familiar land, though in this case it was presumably against his will and he has no memory of a family or home. This does not make his sense of injustice any less profound. Thomas also will be tested throughout the novel and his bravery and confidence bruised. Already Thomas is sure that he has a role to play in the Glade, a calling. This, too, is a common characteristic of the Jungian hero archetype. Traumatic experiences are also essential in the molding of this persona. As the novel progresses, consider how each traumatic experience affects Thomas and also shapes how the other Gladers see him.

This section of the novel also introduces a more central antagonist. Thomas asks Alby what the Beetle Blades are. They have been sent to watch the Gladers by the Creators. This piece of information re-contextualizes the Maze and the Glade. Now we know that someone has deliberately engineered this situation and that there must be some sort of purpose to the situation. Though the Creators remain unseen and unknown at this point, Thomas knows that there is someone out there to defeat.

Dashner also makes symbolic gestures in the layout of the Glade. The area is comprised of several smaller areas with designated names like the Homestead, the Blood House, the Gardens, and the Deadheads. The Homestead is a clear safe area, a literal home for these youth who otherwise do not have one. The Gardens are fairly self-explanatory. The Blood House is where animals are slaughtered and is comprised of those jobs which are some of the least desirable in the Glade. While there is a clear sense of death and carnage in the Blood House, it is the Deadheads and its graveyard which take on the most sinister tone. Thomas's relationship with this area of the Glade will take on somewhat conflicted roles as the novel progresses. He will frequent this area for its sense of privacy and isolation, but it is in the graveyard that he is attacked by Ben.

Part of growing up is accepting the challenges of life and its characteristic changes. Inevitable change also emerges as a theme in the novel. Young adults and teens undergo their own physical changes as they mature as well as psychological ones. The Gladers have had to adapt to the harsh conditions of the Glade, a change that has been forced upon them. Now, it appears, this lifestyle has also become stagnant. Dashner introduces the character of the girl largely as a catalyst for change.

Though we know little about her at this point in the novel, there are immediate clues which tell us that she is special or significant in some profound manner. First, there is the obvious fact that she is female, the first ever of her sex to come to the Glade. Second is the manner of her arrival. Alby tells Thomas that two people have never entered the Glade in the same month, let alone on consecutive days. Finally, there is the message she delivers, literally signaling a coming change. The girl, Teresa, is a device for Dashner to move the narrative forward and to do so at a faster pace.

It is important to note that Teresa is the only major female character in the novel. In a comatose state she is immediately vulnerable. Dashner briefly addresses this issue when one of the boys calls dibs on the girl. Gally also eyes Teresa with a malevolent intent and fascination. This brief glimpse of the possibility of sexual violence and the darker suggestion of knowledge of sexuality through violence echoes another passage in William Golding's The Lord of the Flies. In that novel the boys on the island track and kill a female boar, a sow. Golding uses suggestive language to evoke a rape scene. Dashner does not make the threat to Teresa as explicit, but does ensure that the reader comprehends the inherent risk to a young comatose teenage girl in the company of imprisoned teenage males. Alby emerges as the voice of reason who orders that Teresa be placed under protective watch at all times. This also allows him to continue to assert himself as the adult figure in the group and retain his leadership position.

There is an element of mild homophobia in the Glader community, as might be expected when a large number of adolescent boys are isolated from women. There are several jokes made, mostly by Thomas, that play on the perceived unlikelihood of him kissing or loving another boy. Unfortunately these comments are received silently by the narrative, so Dashner does not appear to be critiquing the homophobia of this age group. Rather, the universal interest in Teresa upon her arrival underlines Dashner's creation as an unfortunately heteronormative community.

Thomas's encounter with Ben in the graveyard will be the first of several traumatic incidents that will test his mettle. He is stalked by an unseen presence in the woods. Nevertheless, he enters the graveyard and finds the tomb of the boy who tried to escape down the Box Hole. This grisly discovery is a shock to Thomas, the type of frightening experience that he will be forced to confront if he is to overcome his situation and realize his potential.