Study Guide

The Scorch Trials Quotes

  • Time

    Chapter 1

    He had no concept of time passing while in that state. Half asleep, half enjoying her presence and the thought that they'd been rescued from that horrible place. (1.29)

    This is when everything seems like it's going to be okay. Thomas is just enjoying his momentarily solitude with Teresa in the dormitories. Time seems to fly when you're having fun. These moments set up a vivid contrast to what happens in the rest of the book, when there is never enough time, and life itself is at stake.

    Chapter 3

    "Let's just think for a second."

    "Time for thinking's done." (3.35)

    The problem with the Gladers' situation is that they're constantly crunched for time. Thinking for just a second could probably be the best idea any of them have had, but as Minho says, there's really no time for thinking when everything around you is going nutso bananas.

    Chapter 9

    He'd quit bothering to look at his watch—it only made time drag and reminded his body how long it'd been since he'd eaten. (9.33)

    WICKED equips all of the Gladers with watches while they're in the dormitories; this might seem like an advantage since they'll know what time it is, but it's really a disadvantage: having a watch makes time drag.

    Hunger... He felt it every second of every minute of every hour. (9.28)

    In other words: pain. When you're feeling extreme pain (like hunger pains), time seems to go so slowly that every second feels like a thousand needles being stabbed into your liver. So we're told, anyway.

    Chapter 16

    Thomas knew he had to do something. Time had run out. (16.6)

    When time runs out, there's only one option: do something. Are the Gladers' actions better when they act on impulse, or are they better when the Gladers think things through?

    Chapter 49

    He desperately wanted to be with his friends and Brenda again. But he knew time was running out, and he had no food or water to make it on his own. (49.2)

    Time not only makes the Gladers move more quickly and with less caution, but it also separates them. If they had more time to reach the safe haven, Thomas could have regrouped with his comrades; the less time, the more stress placed on the individual.

    Chapter 52

    He lost all concept of time as he lay there. It was as if whoever was behind it all wanted to give him a chance to reflect on what had happened while he waited for the end. (52.3)

    Now that's what we call torture. Sometimes having too much time to reflect is definitely not a good thing.

    An hour passed. Maybe two or three. Maybe only thirty minutes. He had no idea. (52.4)

    Ever had one of those moments where you're at an utter loss for time? Well that's how Thomas feels, except he's caught in a situation in which he's about to be killed. What he needs to here, it seems, is act rather than reflect. But how is he supposed to act if he doesn't even understand his situation?

    Chapter 61

    "You have five seconds to choose the one who stays. Don't choose and they both die. One." (61.28)

    A classic method: the man from WICKED in this quote starts the count up to five so that Thomas has to make a quick decision. Often, this technique causes people to fold because of the extreme pressure.

    Thomas knew they couldn't waste any more time. No questions, no fear, no bickering. Only action. (61.1)

    Carpe diem. Seize the day. Time is money. Wasting time. All of these phrases are just ways of telling us that when we think about how time is passing, we're inhibiting ourselves from acting. Sometimes, of course, this is necessary. But what if you think too much and never end up acting?

  • Memory

    Chapter 1

    And above it all, he had one image burned into his memories as strongly as a branded mark from a searing hot iron. His friend Chuck, stabbed in the chest, bleeding, dying as Thomas held him. (1.15)

    Maybe it would seem better to forget some memories. This one is totally traumatic, and it haunts Thomas. WICKED sure isn't wiping this memory away, though. Why not? What's the point of all this?

    Chapter 7

    But being reminded of his friend, and at such an odd moment, made Thomas angry. (7.27)

    When you have a traumatic experience, being reminded about it isn't very fun. But when you're reminded of it at an odd moment—say, you're reminded of a skiing accident while you're on your first date—that can make you angry.

    Chapter 9

    The scattered pieces of the puzzle brought back by the Changing weren't nearly enough to form solid memories. (9.10)

    The Changing was a process a Glader would go through back in the Maze when they were stung by a Griever; it was painful, but it restored splotchy memories of the past. This is why Thomas keeps having these dream-memories.

    If he was going to get through this, he'd have to try to forget about her for now. (9.26)

    Pushing memories into the back of your mind is pretty hard to do, but in some cases it's vital. Thomas needs to forget about Teresa, despite how much it hurts him to do so.

    Chapter 17

    His sense of direction surprised him, as if a piece of his past had risen from the ashes. (17.30)

    Remember, Thomas had some kind of part in constructing the Maze, so when he has an oddly good sense of direction while in the Flat Trans, it makes us wonder if Thomas constructed the rest of the Trials as well.

    Chapter 21

    As much as it pained him, as much as the memory of it tore at his heart, Thomas told the story. (21.23)

    It pains Thomas to tell the story of his experience in the shed with Teresa. But the memory needs to be known to the public; some memories shouldn't always be kept to oneself, for example if they involve the safety and well-being of other people.

    Chapter 23

    If he'd been funny in his old life, every scrap of humor had certainly vanished in the memory swipe. (23.33)

    Yeah, that's probably not how it works. Either you're funny, or you ain't.

    Chapter 35

    Thomas was quiet. Maybe more strongly than ever before, he felt that a memory—an important one—was trying to squeeze its way through the cracks in the wall blocking him from his past. (35.25)

    We've all had this moment. It's like when you're thinking of a word, and it's on the tip of your tongue, but you just can't seem to spit the darn thing out. For Thomas, it's a little more important than that, because he's actually trying to reconstruct his identity as he searches through what memories he still sort of has.

    Chapter 46

    With a jolt he remembered the tag outside her door back in the dorm. The Betrayer. He'd completely forgotten about it until that moment. Things started to make more sense. (46.9)

    How, we ask, could Thomas possibly forget that Teresa was labeled The Betrayer? This memory baffles us, since seeing your best friend labeled as The Betrayer should be a massive red flag. Right? Well, sometimes love blinds you, we guess.

    Thomas

    "So what'd I do to you?" Thomas asked quickly. "Sorry, I'm kind of havin' a memory lapse—ya know, we have those a lot around here. Remind me." (46.32)

    Here is one of Thomas' attempts at humor. As you can tell, he isn't too funny.

  • Suffering

    Chapter 1

    He figured that most if not all of them would have major psychological problems. Maybe even go completely nutso. (1.14)

    This seems to be one of the central ethical issues surrounding the whole WICKED experiment: even if the kids do emerge safe and victorious, they're all going to be pretty messed up as a result of all of the trauma they've experienced.

    Chapter 7

    He was actually trying to decide whether he was more confused or scared when a clanging bell began ringing throughout the room. (7.1)

    The amount of suffering these kids go through actually messes with their emotions, causing them to be confused in situations in which their instincts should tell them, Hey, you should be scared right now, or Hey, you should be excited right now.

    Chapter 11

    He suddenly thought of Chuck and what he might say if he were there.

    Something simple, probably. Something like, this sucks.

    You'd be right, Chuck, Thomas thought. The whole world sucks. (11.5)

    The whole world sucks. Hmm, that's a pretty nice outlook—but how can you blame Thomas for thinking so? Is there anything good about the world he's been placed into?

    Chapter 15

    Getting his hopes up was something he'd sworn never to do again. Not until all this was over. (15.31)

    Here is another example of how Thomas is truly put through horrible circumstances. Hope can sometimes be the one force that can keep someone going; without hope, giving up seems like a pretty viable option. What does Thomas hope for?

    Chapter 16

    He sobbed, surely from the pain, probably also from the trauma of what he'd just been through. (16.20)

    Traumatic suffering can be worse than physical suffering—just ask Winston, whose head was attacked by a gigantic silver blob.

    Chapter 34

    He'd just killed a man. He'd taken the life of another person. His insides felt full of poison. (34.4)

    Sometimes suffering doesn't always happen to the person who is harmed; it can also happen to the person who is doing the harming. Thomas is super traumatized when he kills Mr. Nose, and we have a feeling that'll haunt him for some time.

    Chapter 43

    Too much. It was all too much. (43.25)

    That's a pretty accurate way to sum everything up for the Gladers. Thanks, Thomas, for the insight.

    Chapter 51

    The image of the sick boy, Ben, being Banished back in the Glade swam back into his brain. An odd time to think it, but now he knew how that kid had felt in those last seconds..." (51.37)

    Thomas thinks about Ben right while he himself is being closed off by Teresa and Aris. Understanding someone else's suffering—in this case knowing Ben's—is a direct path to feeling empathy.

    Chapter 54

    Though he certainly didn't think of himself this way, he and the others were just kids. Kids! (54.11)

    Yeah, we should probably keep in mind that all of this suffering is being experienced by kids. It's one thing for a bunch of grown adults to be suffering through WICKED's trials, but these are just kids—their brains haven't fully developed, and their lives haven't really been lived yet.

    Chapter 62
    Thomas

    "If we haven't done enough to pass your stupid tests, then we fail. The tests are over." (62.4)

    Thomas feels like everyone's suffering has gone too far, so he can't bear to see more death. He says this to a WICKED officer, pretty much demanding that he not kill Brenda.

  • Madness

    Chapter 2

    The man yells, "I'm a Crank... I'm a bloody Crank!" (2.16)

    The Cranks are mad in more than one way. They're crazy, yes, but they're also seriously angry. After all, they know they're Cranks, which means that they know they have the Flare.

    Chapter 31

    "Rose took my nose, I suppose." (31.46)

    Probably the single best line in the history of literature, this is spoken by a true madman—Mr. Nose, of course. Does what he says actually make any sense? Or it is just gibberish?

    Chapter 32

    "Little booooooy," the man said..."Little girrrrrrrrl. Come out come out make a sound make a sound. I want your noses." (32.16)

    This is something straight out of a horror movie or a particularly gruesome fairy tale. It's almost like the kids are being forced to confront their worst childhood fears here.

    One of them gagged and spit violently, like he was trying to rid himself of an organ or two. A woman laughed, so full of madness the sound made Thomas shudder. (32.13)

    Now that'll give ya nightmares. We don't even know what else to say to that.

    He'd seen it back at the window of the dormitory—but now he faced it on a more personal level. Right in front of him, with mo bars to keep them away. The faces of the Cranks were primitive and animalistic. (32.10)

    When you see something from a distance, you don't get the full effect. It's only when Thomas sees them up close and personal that he finally realizes how the Flare works: it transforms humans into animalistic creatures.

    Chapter 34

    If he hadn't had the Flare before—a slim hope that Rat Man had lied—he'd surely caught it by now. (34.25)

    Thomas eventually start to think he has the Flare. His logic? His life is crazy, so he must be crazy. Think of it: with all of these Cranks running around and all of these crazy Variables, it's pretty hard not to think you're the one going crazy.

    Chapter 37
    Brenda

    "Maybe we can be happy until we're past the Gone." She smiled then, a sickening, disturbing smile. "Then you can kill me." (37.49)

    See, this is why Brenda scares the heebie-jeebies out of us. Our guess is that she's not exactly all there, and that the Flare has already started to eat away at her brain.

    "I offered you a drink," Long Hair said again, this time any sign of kindness gone from his tattooed face. "It would be very rude to turn such an offer down." (37.37)

    Here's an example of someone who isn't completely crazy—but who's starting to go crazy. Long Hair is a Crank who has a sudden mood swing when Thomas refuses his drink; this sudden change in mood isn't normal, especially given how sinister Long Hair's new mood is.

    Chapter 57
    Brenda

    "Nice to meet you ...I'm a Crank. I'm slowly going crazy. I keep wanting to chew off my own fingers and randomly kill people. Thomas here promised to save me." (57.19)

    Oh, Brenda, even though you're crazy, you still have a pretty solid sense of humor. (Unlike, ahem, the pretty sane Thomas.)

    Chapter 64

    Thomas screamed before he knew what he was doing. He screamed and screamed and screamed until it finally woke him up. (64.18)

    This episode happens right after Thomas dreams of Brenda talking to him telepathically. We're startled because we can't tell if it was just Thomas hallucinating, or if this actually happened. Maybe Thomas has caught the Flare, and he's going cray-cray himself; or maybe Brenda isn't just some random Crank who wants to chew off her fingers and kill people?

  • Fear

    Chapter 3

    Thomas had lived in fear and terror the past few weeks, but this was almost too much. (3.3)

    Ha, and you thought the Maze was pretty bad? Well, the Scorch Trials are even worse: not only do the Gladers have to deal with Cranks and bad weather, but Thomas is also separated from Teresa. What's he going to do without her?

    Chapter 13

    Fear surely gripped them as much as it did him. They'd been through the Maze and its horrors. They'd seen up close what WICKED was capable of doing. (13.3)

    Remember, Thomas isn't the only one who is scared out of jammy-jams. We might only get his perspective, but the other Gladers (you know, the ones we would probably be if we were in this book) are probably even more scared. With good reason, too—they're not main characters, so they're way more likely to buy the farm before the book ends.

    Chapter 14

    He ran forward on instinct, pushing past several Gladers who seemed frozen by fear, moving toward the inhuman sounds. (14.61)

    When you're afraid of something—say a creepy noise or sound—the first thing you do shouldn't be to run toward it. But if you know Thomas well, you'll know that he just runs towards trouble. Does that make him brave? Stupid?

    Chapter 16

    Thomas exchanged glances with Newt, who returned a look that had a little fear in it but was mostly full of curiosity. (16.35)

    Curiosity is often related to fear: many things we fear are unknown, which is why we fear them. But if we don't know exactly what this fear is, of course we're going to be a little curious as to what it is.

    Chapter 23

    He wanted his memory block finally cracked for good... But that desire was tempered by fear of what he might find out about himself. (23.9)

    Another reason why Thomas is so mentally torn is that he fears how he played a part in the Maze construction. Not knowing your past is one thing, but being afraid of what happened in the past is another thing.

    Chapter 26

    He thought he'd gotten used to the fear of having the disease, but with this Crank standing right in front of him, he was more scared than ever. (26.10)

    "It's easier said than done" is a pretty good phrase to illustrate this moment. It's a lot easier to get over the fear of having a disease when you don't know what it looks like, but when it's staring you in the face, that'll resurrect some demons.

    Chapter 59

    The image of Chuck taking that knife for him popped into his head. And that did it. Snapped him out of those nanoseconds of frozen doubt and fear. (59.10)

    The fear of dying looms in all of the Gladers' minds, but Chuck's death actually helps Thomas overcome his fear of death. In a way, it was a form of desensitization.

    Chapter 61

    Maybe for the first time since entering the Glade weeks earlier, Thomas felt no fear. He didn't know if he'd ever feel it again. (61.9)

    Unfortunately, that's wishful thinking. Fear affects everyone, no matter how much they've been exposed to it before. Thomas will find this out soon enough.

    No more fear. No more shock. No more questioning. Take what comes. Play along. Pass the tests. Pass the Trials. (61.33)

    The best way to block out fear, for Thomas, is action. Focusing on something, like passing the Trials, is a good way for Thomas and the Gladers to avoid letting their fear take over.

    Chapter 64

    For the first time, Thomas realized the voice wasn't quite right... Fear had crept into his gut. A horrible, sickening, toxic fear. (64.11)

    Ever felt like your stomach just did a flip? That's what Thomas is feeling right about now. There's no way to avoid fear completely—it's a normal reaction, and it serves a purpose. The question is knowing how to deal with it.

  • Manipulation

    Chapter 4

    How could everything be taken away from them so fast? (4.2)

    Thoughts like this will soon vanish for the Gladers, as anything is possible with WICKED behind the controls.

    Chapter 5

    An alarm went off in his head—their brains had been tinkered with before. Had it happened again? Had their memories been altered or wiped? (5.27)

    WICKED is actually so manipulative that Thomas begins to believe that they can control the behavioral patters in the Gladers' brains. If WICKED can do that, then the kids' unique identities are pretty much garbage. After all, didn't WICKED already erase all the kids' memories?

    Chapter 7

    He knew they were on the edge of yet another great change in their ridiculous journey, and he didn't want to draw it out any longer. (7.32)

    After being manipulated so much by WICKED, each Variable almost seems like another day in the office for the Gladers. Ugh, time to put on their ties, grab their briefcases, and walk out into another lightning storm. All in a day's work.

    "Why do you even bother asking questions, dude? Nothing has ever made sense and it probably never will." (7.36)

    Minho couldn't have said it any better. Asking questions won't do Thomas any good, because WICKED can manipulate the Variables as much as they want. They have absolute power over the Gladers.

    Chapter 10

    "We can manipulate your brains and nerve receptacles when necessary." (10.46)

    Thanks for reminding us, Rat Man, that WICKED is omnipotent. That's a real confidence-booster. If WICKED can manipulate everything, then why even bother with the trials?

    Chapter 19

    "I don't know what the word for it is. But it blows me away how the two groups went through these trips parallel experiments." (19.34)

    The word is probably "manipulative," but at this point, the kids are at an utter loss when it comes to having any sense of control. They've lost it all, and they're at the full disposal of WICKED.

    They now knew they were being tested somehow, put through WICKED's trials. (19.20)

    You'd think that knowing WICKED's plans would have been a leg-up for the Gladers, but it actually turns out that WICKED wanted the Gladers to know about their plans. With that out in the open, there's really no way the kids can gain any kind of strategical advantage for what they're getting into.

    Chapter 36

    "I guess it's just another part of this whole nightmare that makes no sense." (36.11)

    Phrases like this are thrown around every once in a while, highlighting how the kids feel about being manipulated so much. We agree: it sounds like an utter nightmare.

    Chapter 42

    The people from WICKED had shown up to save him pretty quickly. From what they'd said, it was something they hadn't planned on, but they'd done it anyway. Which meant they were watching and could swoop in to save them whenever they wanted to. (42.12)

    Even when Thomas finds out that WICKED could interfere with the experiment, it doesn't do him much good. So WICKED can save people at will; so what? What does it all mean? Why are they doing any of this in first place?

    Chapter 46

    Could they even be manipulating her thoughts? Making her not like him anymore? (46.10)

    If WICKED can control people's thoughts (like Teresa's), then who knows what's in store for Thomas. Will he continue to act like himself? Or will he just become a puppet for WICKED? Who is he, anyway? He certainly doesn't know—not with his memories wiped out as they have been by WICKED.

  • Friendship

    Chapter 6

    Minho exchanged a glance with Thomas, half smiling. Looked like both groups had come up with their own vocabulary. (6.16)

    Ah, the signs of two people becoming BFFs. Whenever something funny or interesting happens while you're with your friends, it's hard not to take a look at your best friend to see his or her reaction. It's more fun to laugh together than to laugh alone.

    Thomas couldn't help but feel sorry for Aris. To get grilled with all these questions after something like that had happened. (6.13)

    Sometimes friendship can be formed by empathy or sympathy; in this case, Thomas feels empathetic towards Aris, as Thomas had been in a similar situation.

    Chapter 28

    But if there was a person other than Teresa on the planet he could truly call a friend, it was Minho. And he couldn't handle losing him, too. (28.7)

    Thomas thinks this in the middle of the book—you know, after he has found out Teresa is "The Betrayer." You'd think he would put aside his friendship with Teresa for maybe a second, but because of his experience in the Maze, he simply can't. Romance can do some crazy things to friendships.

    Chapter 29

    Thomas found himself liking this girl. She'd just drawn blood from his best friend, but he liked her. Maybe, in a small part, because of that. (29.50)

    Best friends can be a pretty big nuisance at times—after all, you learn all of their positive and negative qualities—so when you see someone make your best friend look a little silly, that can sometimes pique your interest. In this case, Thomas starts to like Brenda after she makes Minho look bad.

    Chapter 30
    Brenda

    "I think it would be easier to make it through with fewer people. I'm not really great friends with any of those Cranks. Not like you and your... Gladers." (30.57)

    Brenda doesn't have a very strong bond with anyone, which makes her something of a lone renegade. It's a lot easier to get through tough times when you're in a group, as even Brenda finds out, but she does always remain a little distant.

    But what if some of them had been captured by whoever had set off the explosion? Or killed? And who had attacked them? Concern seemed to bleed his heart dry as they ran along. (30.5)

    Thomas's concern for his fellow Gladers shows how friendship means a whole lot to him. Without his friends, Thomas doesn't feel right—he needs his friends in order to feel whole.

    Chapter 35
    Thomas

    "Yeah. I can't quit worrying about my other friends. I just hate it so bad that we were separated." (35.4)

    Again, Thomas's feelings of separation cause him some massive anxiety. Without his friends, he feels weakened.

    Chapter 49

    That was it. He'd officially and completely lost any trace of doubt. Teresa had turned against him. Or maybe she had never really been on his side. (49.14)

    Mmm, being stabbed in the back is a pretty bad feeling, but being stabbed in the back by your best friend can have some pretty damaging effects on your sense of reality and even your sense of self. Throw some romance into the mix, too, and now you've got yourself a pretty nasty brew of emotions.

    Chapter 50

    Two people who every instinct had told him were friends. Until now. (50.23)

    Yeah, because "The Betrayer" was definitely going to be your friend, Thomas. Right? What was Thomas thinking, anyway? Oh, right—nothing.

    Chapter 60

    He had to trust his friends to save themselves. Knew he could trust them. (60.13)

    Having a grand old time together is definitely one aspect of friendship, but Thomas needs to have trust in his friends' own survival skills. Friendship isn't just friendship in this books; it's also a means of survival. Actually, that's probably true about friendship in general, if you think about it.

  • Versions of Reality

    Chapter 10

    "All I will say is that sometimes what you see is not real, and sometimes what you do not see is real." (10.46)

    With this warning from Rat Man, the Gladers find themselves stuck in a Catch-22: if reality isn't what it seems, what can they possibly do?

    Surely he was still asleep, dreaming. For some reason, that thought alone seemed to amplify his hunger... (10.17)

    Hmm, maybe Thomas was dreaming about hamburgers and hot dogs. Or, maybe he was dreaming about what it used to be like before he was stuck in that darn Maze. Oh, well—either way, we guess dreaming makes Thomas hungry.

    Chapter 25

    He knew he should tell them about his memory-dreams, but he just couldn't. (25.37)

    If Thomas won't tell anyone about his memory-dreams, then their realities will just become foggier. Thomas should tell people his memories so that people can somehow figure out what's going on; by keeping his memories to himself, Thomas puts himself in a different version of reality from what others experience.

    Chapter 29

    He couldn't help thinking of his dream and the brief glimpse he'd seen of [his mom], but did his best to forget it—it was too depressing. (29.42)

    Repressing the past is something Thomas does so that he can focus on the present. Well, that's well and good, but as we know, the present in this novel isn't real. Hmm. There's a dilemma.

    Chapter 31

    His mind drifted into a half-daze, thinking about the Maze and his splotchy memories and Teresa. Mostly about Teresa. (31.14)

    Daydreaming: a favorite pastime of teenagers. How is Thomas's daydreaming different from his dreaming at night? Is it different?

    Chapter 34
    Thomas

    "What if I see his nasty face every night when I go to sleep? What if he's in my dreams?" (34.32)

    Thomas is afraid of having nightmares about Mr. Nose. But what's worse? A nightmare that isn't real, or the very real nightmare Thomas is actually living?

    Chapter 43

    Teresa's brief visit to his mind seemed like a dream now. He could almost believe it had never happened. (43.8)

    Part of the reason Thomas has a slightly better grip on reality than others do is that he has telepathic abilities, something his Glader friends don't have. Does this give him a leg up? Maybe. Or maybe it just distorts his sense even more.

    Chapter 49

    He thought a lot about his dreams he'd been having, but still couldn't put enough together to truly understand what was going on. (49.3)

    Thomas dreams all the time, but he still has trouble piecing all of those dreams together. His mind, his identity, and his reality are all a big, jumbled mess.

    Chapter 65
    Teresa

    "WICKED is good." (65.39)

    These are Teresa's final words in The Scorch Trials. It's hard to believe that WICKED is good, given all of the suffering the kids go through, but maybe WICKED truly is good, and that's just the harsh reality.

    Epilogue

    The future of the human race outweighs all. (E.5)

    In the memorandum made by Ava Paige, she claims that WICKED is using these kids to help save the human race. We're given this information from a bunch of people who work for WICKED, which in some ways makes it still pretty hard to believe that WICKED is good. We mean, is that what they would want us to think?