Essay on 'Maze Runner' Hero's Journey

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What if, you woke up in a black, cold metal box? You have no recollection of any memories of anything except your first name. Not your last name, not your friends, not even your family. But thinking that you are there to help solve the problem they haven't been able to figure out for years on end. In James Dashner’s novel, The Maze Runner, a group of strangers must work together to find their way outside of a maze where they have been stuck for years. They hadn’t been able to until a boy arrived; his name was Thomas. Thomas is a persistent, brave, and physically and emotionally strong boy. But it took him a while to become the boy he was towards the end of “The Maze Runner”. He also needed ample help from his friends. Even many sacrifices. Just like many heroes, Thomas first has to go through the struggle of arriving in an unknown area, then displays bravery for his new friends and leaders, and finally accomplishes what the boys haven’t been able to accomplish for years, escape the maze.

“It was just so… weird. He remembered lots of little things about life—eating, clothes, studying, playing, and general images of the makeup of the world. But any detail that would fill in the picture to create a true and complete memory had been erased somehow. It was like looking at an image through a foot of muddy water. (Dashner p.31)”

When Thomas arrives in the Glade he is welcomed by the boys. They greet him and say “Nice to meet ya, shank. Welcome to the Glade.”. He began getting picked on by a boy named Gally who says that he had seen Thomas in the changing. The change is when someone gets stung by a griever, a mechanical animal created to keep the Gladers from escaping the maze. Thomas makes some friends in the maze including Newt, Alby, and Chuck. Thomas gets attacked by a boy named Ben who has gone through the changing. He had also seen Thomas as he went through the changing. People were beginning to doubt Thomas and how trustworthy he was. Thomas comes up with 2 ideas. The Glade is a game set up for people’s entertainment or it is a prison where people are sent for breaking the law in their past life. The Gladers began to trust Thomas and see that he wanted to escape too. A girl named Teresa arrives the only girl that has come to the Glade. Teresa shoots up and says “Everything is about to change”, then falls to the ground and passes out. She has a note in her hand which says “She is the last one. Ever” (p.56). She was the last glader to ever come to the Glade. Everyone thinks Thomas knows about Teresa since everything has been changing since he came to the Glade. Thomas insists that he has no idea who this girl is, but deep inside, he has memories of her. When Teresa eventually wakes up, he notices they have telepathic powers towards each other. Earlier in the book, he says, unlike all the others, he hadn’t completely lost all his memories. It’s like “looking at a photograph through muddy water” (p.31).

Thomas knew he had no choice. He moved. Forward. He squeezed past the connecting rods at the last second and stepped into the maze. The walls slammed shut behind him, the echo of its boom bouncing off every ivy-covered stone like mad laughter. (Dashner p. 112)

Thomas meets Minho, the Keeper of the runners. Keepers were the leaders of the different jobs there were in the Glade. The “runners” were the boys who would try to find a way out of the maze. They had to come back before midnight because the walls would close and whoever would get stuck would never come back. Thomas believed that he was meant to be a runner. He wanted to solve this maze. One night, Minho and Alby found a ‘dead griever’. But, this griever was not dead at all. While the walls were closing, they saw Minho and Alby running as fast as they could, he had been stung by a griever. The walls were closing rapidly. All of the Gladers were looking out into the maze including Thomas, he knew that he couldn’t possibly leave them in there alone to die. The grievers would certainly eat them alive. Everyone knew Thomas was thinking about running in there with them, and, all the Gladers were telling him not to. Everyone who hadn’t been able to make it out of the maze before midnight had never been found, or found dead. With the walls about to close, Thomas runs into the maze and is now stuck inside for the night with an exhausted Minho and a half-dead Alby. Minho says “You're the shuckiest shuck-faced shuck I’ve ever seen.”, implying what Thomas did was unimaginably senseless. Now he must help them survive the night. They began to hear stomps in the maze, they knew they were from grievers. Minho and Thomas come up with a plan to split up. They were worried about Alby because he wouldn’t be able to run away from the grievers. They leave Alby hoping to distract the grievers away from him. At one point, Thomas jukes out four grievers who surround him. He bumps into Minho and they discover an alleyway with a void. The only way they were going to survive the whole night was if they could push the four grievers into this void. As the grievers charge towards them they quickly move out of the way and the grievers fall. They run back to the entrance just as the walls are about to open. They grab Alby and become the first boys to ever survive a night in the maze. Here, Thomas displays an amazing amount of bravery for his newfound ‘friends’. Even though Minho is dumbfounded as to why Thomas did this, he does what he believes is right.

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“Shouldn't someone give a pep talk or something?' Minho asked, pulling Thomas's attention away from Alby.

'Go ahead,' Newt replied.

Minho nodded and faced the crowd. 'Be careful,' he said dryly. 'Don't die.”

(Dashner p.91)

This quote is from earlier in the book, however, it explains perfectly what they were trying to do in this whole time. They wanted to escape the maze, they wanted to get out of it alive. A few days later, everything begins to fall apart. Grievers began to run out during the day and take one person a day including Gally. The map room was also burned down. The boys had replaced the real maps with replicas because they had a feeling this was going to happen. Teresa had been put in jail because everything went ‘wrong’ when she got to the Glade. Thomas goes to see her and they talk about how they may be looking at the solution wrongly. They thought the solution was ‘words’. The code was words. They needed the maps to do this. He runs back to the map room and the Gladers are surrounding Alby’s lifeless body. Thomas asks Minho and Newt to release Teresa and help them figure out the code. They begin to look through the maps and find the words FLOAT and CATCH. After this, Thomas and Minho decide to go explore the maze. They go into the maze leaving Newt and Teresa to figure out the rest of the code. Minho and Thomas found nothing after looking around. When he is back, he locates Teresa still in the weapon room. They had figured out the codes FLOAT, CATCH, BLEED, DEATH, STIFF, and PUSH. After this, Thomas decides to get stung by a griever intentionally. He learns that he and Teresa knew each other before and that he was forced to help create the maze. He reveals this to the Gladers and his surprise, they are not angry at him. They make the plan to make a path for him, Teresa, and Chuck while everyone else fights the grievers. They were going to jump into the void. The Gladers run towards the void and come across a horde of grievers since the creators were watching them closer than ever. The Gladers fought them off and found a path. Thomas, Teresa, and Chuck run through the grievers and their friends. It leads them to a room with a computer. Teresa puts in the first five words but cannot enter “PUSH” into the computer. She begins freaking out and a griever manages to join them. Thomas must fight it off to buy Teresa time. Chuck notices that there is a button that you can push. As Thomas manages to fight off the griever, another one comes through. Teresa pushes the button, the grievers shut down and Minho comes through. He says about twenty of the Gladers didn’t make it. The rest of the Gladers go through and Alby dies. They followed a path and it led them to a shute. They all went down and saw a woman with a boy being controlled. The boy was Gally. He was not himself. There were also many people in the chambers. All of them pale, they were the creators. Gally aims a knife at Thomas and throws it at him. Chuck jumps in front of the knife and saves Thomas, sacrificing his own life. Thomas goes into a state of rage and starts attacking Gally and the Gladers must pull him away. After, some sort of police come into the room and begin shooting everything. They killed everyone who was a part of WICKED. They tell them to follow them and they hop onto a bus. They still didn’t have their memories back but they were back in the real world. For the first time in forever, they felt a sense of joy. Thomas was a true hero with the help of his friends. He had to make tough decisions along the way which led to many deaths, yet allowed most of the Gladers to escape.

Thomas can be considered a hero because he had to overcome a struggle, showed an immense amount of bravery to his newfound friends, and managed to accomplish his and everyone else’s goal for years, he escaped the maze. While many may argue Thomas was not a true hero, whether that be because he needed help or his best friend took his life for him, he is. No hero can save people on his own, not even superheroes. Thomas will always be a true hero in the eyes of the Gladers. Even the ones who didn’t make it. 

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Essay on ‘Maze Runner’ Hero’s Journey. (2024, April 10). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 21, 2024, from
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