Last Updated September 5, 2023.
Important quotes from The Maze Runner by James Dashner focus on Thomas, Teresa, and the group's realizations about The Glade.
Some important quotes establish things about the characters. For example:
"My name is Thomas, he thought.
That was the only thing he could remember about his life."
This is important because it establishes Thomas as a blank slate. He doesn't have a past he can recall and the reader accompanies him on his journey through The Glade and the maze -- learning things at the same time as him.
When Thomas sees Teresa for the first time, it's the only time he's able to remember something in The Glade from the past. Dashner writes:
It lasted only an instant before vanishing into the abyss of his other captured memories. But he had felt something.
"I do know her," he whispered, leaning back in his chair. It felt good to finally admit it out loud.
Though Thomas doesn't remember the details, both Teresa's arrival and Thomas's previous knowledge of her represent a turning point in the story.
Another quote that establishes Thomas and Teresa as the people who helped put everyone in The Glade is a message Teresa says to Thomas in the middle of the novel. Her memory is fading -- but she remembers this for the moment. She says, "It was you and me, Tom. We did this to them. To us."
This quote creates a new mystery for the reader that centers on Thomas and Teresa. It makes Thomas into a questionable protagonist. Though he doesn't remember where he came from, it's possible that he isn't one of the good guys.
When the sun disappears and the boys see that there's something like a ceiling covering The Glade for the first time, Dashner shows how it affects them. Thomas thinks about the ramifications:
The sun obviously had not disappeared—that wasn’t possible.
Though that was what it seemed like—signs of the ball of furious fire nowhere to be seen, the slanting shadows of morning absent. But he and all the Gladers were far too rational and intelligent to conclude such a thing. No, there had to be a scientifically acceptable reason for what they were witnessing. And whatever it was, to Thomas it meant one thing: the fact they could no longer see the sun probably meant they’d never been able to in the first place. A sun couldn’t just disappear. Their sky had to have been—and still was—fabricated. Artificial.
In other words, the sun that had shone down on these people for two years, providing heat and life to everything, was not the sun at all. Somehow, it had been fake. Everything about this place was fake.
This is another major event in the book. It's a clue that they're trapped there and that the world still exists outside. It isn't just something that occurs to Thomas for the first time; it affects all the boys when the sun goes away and what's above them looks like a ceiling.
Dashner uses something called the Flare to indicate that things in the real world might not be as idyllic as the boys hope during their attempts to escape the maze. While Thomas waits for Newt to convince the others to journey into the maze, Thomas sits and thinks:
He kept thinking of what Alby had said about the Flare, and what it could mean. The older boy had also mentioned burned earth and a disease. Thomas didn’t remember anything like that, but if it was all true, the world they were trying to get back to didn’t sound...
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This sets the tone for the end of the novel and subsequent books. It's the first indication that escaping the maze might not lead to a happy ending. Rather, it shows that the rest of the world might not be a good place either.
Another quote that is important but unexplained is "WICKED is good." The boys don't know what WICKED is, but the quote appears on Teresa's arm when she enters the maze. Thomas sees it and says, "I've seen that word before--wicked. [. . .] On the little creatures that live here. The beetle blades." It establishes WICKED as a mystery and part of the reason why the kids are trapped in The Glade.
At the end of the book, the group finds out that WICKED stands for "World in Catastrophe: Killzone Experiment Department." They still don't know what it means for them, though.
The book closes with a memo from Ava Paige, the Chancelor, where she discusses what the group went though. She says "I think we'd all agree that the Trials were a success. Twenty survivors, all well qualified for our planned endeavor." That shows the audience that someone put the boys and Teresa in The Glade as a test -- a theme that continues into the next two books.