Thomas got to his feet and started walking toward the eastern opening. "Well, no one said I couldn't look around." He needed to learn something or he was going to lose his mind. (4.15)
Infamous last words: "No one said I couldn't…" This is probably the most brazen Thomas acts the entire time he's in the Glade, most likely spurred by his innocence. He has no idea what's out in the Maze yet, so how could he be scared?
"Two years we've tried to solve this thing, no luck. Shuckin' walls move out there at night just as much as these here doors. Mappin' it out ain't easy, ain't easy nohow." (7.20)
Maps. This intrigued him more than anything else he'd heard in a while. It was the first thing suggesting a potential solution to their predicament. "Of course they do, but there's still stuff they need to talk about and discuss and analyze and all that klunk. Plus"—the boy rolled his eyes—"they spend most of their time running, not writing. That's why they're called Runners." (9.50)
What's exploration without documentation, right? Then it's just a fun adventure in the woods. By mapping their exploits, the boys are doing something constructive to try to figure out their situation.
Runner, he thought as he went on break. Just let me be a Runner. Once again he thought about how absurd it was that he wanted it so badly. But even though he didn't understand it, or where it came from, the desire was undeniable. (16.18)
"His urge to explore was stronger than his urge to live…" would've been a perfect tagline for the movie. Do you think this was his natural motivation, or an urge that was planted by the Creators?
It shocked him when he realized he'd been running for almost an hour—the shadows of the walls ran long toward the east, and soon the sun would set for the night and the Doors would close. He had to get back. It only peripherally hit him then that without thinking he'd recognized the direction and the time. That his instincts were strong. (29.2)
Yeah, yeah, Thomas, we get it—you were destined to be a Runner. Explore away.
"We always have at least eight Runners, including the Keeper. One for each Section. It takes us a whole day to map out our area—hoping against hope there's an exit—then we come back and draw it up, a separate page for each day." Minho glanced over at one of the trunks. "That's why those things are shuck full of Maps." (32.49)
It's actually kind of amazing that there are eight kids there who want to explore as much as Thomas does. It must be a pretty strong urge to choose Running over peacefully playing in the gardens all day.
"Better get as much of the Maze run as we can. With our new decorated sky, maybe other weird things have happened out there. We'll tell Newt and Alby about this tonight. Don't know how it helps, but at least we know now where the shuck Grievers go." […] Thomas sat and stared, waiting for Minho to make a move. Several minutes passed in silence and Thomas realized his friend must be as fascinated as he was." (35.35)
In all this staring, neither of them realized that it was the exit they'd been searching for?
"Time to stay out there and see if anything opens up when the walls move. If they still move." […] Although it scared him to death, exploring the Maze—really exploring it—was something he'd wanted to do from the first time he'd learned about it. (38.11, 14)
"That's bullcrap, Thomas! Of all days, this might be the most important to get out there. Something might've changed, something might've opened up. In fact, with the freaking walls not closing anymore, I think we should try your idea, stay out there overnight and do some deeper exploring." (43.18)
For once, Thomas has to be talked into exploring, instead of helping to decipher the code. But can you blame him?