Confusion, Curiosity. Panic. Fear. But laced through it all was the dark feeling of utter hopelessness, like the world had ended for him, had been wiped from his memory and replaced with something awful. (2.12)
Ding, ding, ding! That's exactly what happened. Someone has toyed with his memory for funsies. Yikes. Other than puppetry, is there any other kind of manipulation that doesn't involve messing with someone's mind?
They'd wiped his memory and put him inside a gigantic maze. It was all so crazy it really did seem funny. (4.39)
Funny isn't exactly the word we would choose. Sadistic, unethical, inhumane, appalling, take your pick. But maybe that was the only emotion Thomas was capable of expressing during his time of shock. Have you ever been so scared that you laugh inappropriately? Maybe that's what we're dealing with here.
How could a maze, with walls so massive and tall, be so big that dozens of kids hadn't been able to solve it after who knew how long trying? How could such a structure exist? And more importantly, why? What could possibly be the purpose of such a thing? Why were they all there? (6.38)
Isn't that the worst part of being manipulated, that sometimes you just can't figure out why you're being toyed with? If there were some kind of justification that you could understand maybe it would be easier to cope with. Not that that's true for these kids—their lives are on the line.
"I think he's a spy from the people who put us here." […] "We can't trust this shank," he continued. […] "There's too many weird things going on, and it all started when this shuck-face Greenie showed up. And he just happens to be the first person to survive a night out in the Maze. Something ain't right," (24.50-54)
When you know you're being played with, it's hard to trust anybody. It's also pretty easy to lay the blame on the nearest scapegoat. That goat really should avoid these situations.
"You-" Alby started, then suddenly grabbed his own throat, making gurgly choking sounds. His legs kicked out and he rolled onto his side, thrashing back and forth as if someone else were trying to strangle him […] Alby looked up, eyes droopy, as if he was on the edge of slipping into a deep sleep. "I'm sorry, Newt," he whispered. "Don't know what happened. It was like… something was controlling my body. (27.36, 47)
The Creators just did their best impersonation of an obnoxious older sibling: "Quit hittin' yourself! Quit hittin' yourself! Hahaha!"
"If anything, gives us even more reason to get our butts out there. If the sun's really gone, won't be long before plants and animals drop dead, too. I think the desperation level just went up a notch." (34. 27)
The definition of manipulation is to "control or play upon by artful, unfair, or insidious means especially to one's own advantage." The Creators are pretty good at it, no? By upping the desperation level, they are forcing the boys into more desperate reactions.
"I think… I think we're here as part of some weird experiment, or test, or something like that. But it's supposed to end somehow. We can't live here forever—whoever sent us here wants it to end. One way or another." […] "She's just a pawn—they sent her here as our last tool or hint or whatever to help us get out." Thomas took a deep breath. "And I think they sent me, too." (37.33-34)
See, we knew they'd catch on eventually. Thomas is hitting the nail right on the head here. The only point he's missing is that they are all pawns and subjects in a horrible experiment.
Thomas shook his head. "No, you don't get it. They're weeding us out, seeing if we'll give up, finding the best of us. Throwing variables at us, trying to make us quit. Testing our ability to hope and fight. Sending Teresa here and shutting everything down was only the last part, one more… final analysis. Now it's time for the last test. To escape." (48.54)
And there you have it, folks. Why won't the other boys just listen to Thomas? Have they been so badly messed with that they can't trust anybody?
"Whatever the reason, it makes me sick! All of this—the Grievers, the walls moving, the Cliff— they're just elements of a stupid test. We're being used and manipulated. […] They're throwing crazy things at us to see our response, test our will. See if we'll turn on each other." (49.22)
Pro tip: used and manipulated kinda mean the same thing. We're just sayin'…
"As for you, all of you—you're just a few of millions orphaned. They tested thousands, chose you for the big one. The ultimate test. Everything you lived through was calculated and thought through. Catalysts to study your reactions, your brain waves, your thoughts. All in an attempt to find those capable of helping us find a way to beat the Flare." (61.17)
Don't you guys feel special? Wasn't this so much fun? Don't you just want to try and help us now? This all distracts from the real question, though, which is how exactly are the results of this experiment going to help save everyone from the Flare?