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At the Gathering, Thomas tells the Keepers what he learned during the Changing. He saw that they’d been kidnapped by the Creators as orphans and raised in special schools to prepare them. The Creators named them after famous scientists. Then, the Creators put them in the Maze, a test without a solution, to see who would survive and continue trying to solve it against all odds. Thomas understands the code and knows the way out because he was one of the inventors of the Maze.
Thomas tells the Keepers that he and Teresa were manipulated into designing the Maze because they share the gift of telepathy. He convinces the others that he and Teresa are now in as much danger as them, but he knows the way out. Thomas tells them in order to escape, they have to jump through the Griever Hole.
Alby makes it clear that he doesn’t want to return to the outside world and confesses to burning down the Map room. He says that his memories showed him that outside of the Maze, a deadly disease called the Flare had infected almost everyone, and much of the world had been destroyed. Thomas insists that it’s better to go down fighting than to give up, and the Keepers argue. Thomas suggests that they try to make their escape at night, after the Grievers take their nightly victim, because there’s a better chance that the Grievers won’t attack. Newt says that they should go that night in order to minimize the nightly casualties. Thomas volunteers to be the sacrificial victim.
Newt throws Thomas out of the Gathering, making it clear that no one will sacrifice himself. He promises to try to convince the Keepers of the plan. In his spot in the woods, Thomas talks telepathically with Teresa. She joins him and he tells her the plan. She agrees, and they sit together peacefully holding hands.
All the Keepers agree to the plan and set about convincing the Gladers. In the end, most decide to jump into the Griever Hole, including Alby. They set about preparing and making weapons. The plan is to go at night, when hopefully the Grievers will be in the Maze and not in the Hole. Thomas and Teresa strategize about getting out, and they realize that WICKED is an acronym for the phrase that Thomas had noticed on the sign in the Maze: World in Catastrophe: Killzone Experiment Department.
The forty-one Gladers who have decided to leave meet at the West Gate. Alby is acting strangely. They get their weapons, and Newt leads them into the Maze with a battle cry.
After an hour of running, the Gladers, led by Thomas, Teresa, and Minho, reach the corridor to the Cliff, but when they look around the corner, Minho sees about a dozen Grievers guarding the entrance to the Griever Hole. Then, more Grievers appear in the other three corridors, blocking the Gladers’ exit. Everyone is terrified, but Alby runs forward and leaps onto a Griever at the Cliff. Other Grievers maul Alby and appear to eat him. Minho urges Thomas and Teresa not to waste Alby’s sacrifice and to keep going. Thomas is still hopeful that the Grievers are programmed to kill only one Glader per night, but it becomes clear that the Grievers will attack from all sides. Minho directs the others to protect Thomas and Teresa and tells Thomas that the rest of the group will fight until Thomas and Teresa enter the code and alert the group that it’s time to follow them into the Griever Hole.
These chapters largely explore the theme of manipulation as Thomas reveals his memories after the Changing. Though the Gladers have already determined that they are pawns in a game, they now come to understand the true sinister nature of the Creators’ conniving actions. As highly intelligent children, they have been chosen, stolen from their homes, and subjected to the trials of a problem with no solution. The Creators’ intention to groom them for a greater utilization shows no regard for their lives as individuals. Instead, their worth is determined by “survival of the fittest” mentality, and the intention is that a few will escape and the rest will perish like unfortunate animals in a lab. Though the Creators forced Thomas and Theresa to help create the Maze, they are no less disposable than the other Gladers, and they are just as vulnerable to the manipulations of the Creators. The Gladers have all been forced to “earn” their passage into the next part of the Creators’ scientific experiment by uncovering the code and facing death to exit the Maze.
Hope is key if the Gladers are to successfully complete their final mission of escape. It is difficult to conjure the will to move forward, however, now with greater certainty that they will not be returning to the home they have longed for. Without hope to urge him on, Alby is angry and afraid to face a home world full of horrors. He becomes hysterical and then despondent, and his behavior signals that he is now a weak link. Minho’s hope wavers, but he vows to fight or die trying. Newt gives a speech to the others to convince them to embark on their most dangerous journey yet. In an effort to awaken hope and inspire bravery, he states that it is the Grievers and Creators who should be afraid of the Gladers. Sadly, it is the Gladers’ real hope that the new pattern of death will continue and only one of them will be killed.
Self-sacrifice comes into play two-fold as the Gladers prepare to fight their way into the Griever Hole. Thomas’s offer to sacrifice himself to the Grievers as the night’s sole Glader kill is motivated by his guilt for his role in creating the Maze. This time, however, his death must be certain if the other Gladers are to remain safe and escape. There is no greater aim in his offer other than to secure the safety of his companions. Newt, however, refuses Thomas’s sacrifice. As they charge into the Maze and encounter a line of Grievers, it is Alby who dives into the pack and sacrifices himself. Alby’s sacrifice is motivated by his fear of the outside world. Though he may have also intended to distract the Grievers and buy his friends a few precious moments toward escape, those moments are lost as the Gladers fail to quickly recover from the shock of his death. Alby’s sacrifice ensures that he will never have to return to the home of his found memories, but his suicide leaves his friends distraught and vulnerable.