In The Scorch Trials, the Gladers are given just two weeks to trek 100 miles through deadly lightning storms, deal with crazy Cranks, and outwit a rival group. That's, um, not a very generous amount of time.
Because they've had their memories wiped clean and have been placed in crazy Trials, the Gladers easily lose sense of time, which causes them to feel physically and mentally exhausted. These kids are constantly racing against the clock—no, really, they're literally running against time throughout the book. These kids deserve a break, but according to WICKED, time is running is out.
The two-week time limit that WICKED gives the Gladers is simply to test their ability to follow directions.
If there hadn't been a time limit, the Gladers would have all stalled, and the Flare would have taken over.
Just as in The Maze Runner, the Gladers in The Scorch Trials spend most of their time scared out of their minds. Not only do the kids fear the consequences of dealing with WICKED and being attacked by crazy creatures and Cranks, but they're also forced to face the fear of death. They witness it all the time, so it's pretty hard for any of them to forget about it. In some cases, fear can be helpful, but it sure isn't fun to be running around scared all of the time.
Fear fuels the Gladers, making them stronger as they make their way through each Variable.
Fear of the Flare's effect is worse than the actual effect it starts to have on the kids.
Camaraderie, unity, bromance—we see it all in The Scorch Trials. We really can't function without our friends; for the Gladers, though, friendship is a matter of life and death.
As the situations in the novel get direr and direr, the power of friendship starts to show itself in people like Thomas and Minho. Thomas can't bear to be separated from the rest of the Gladers; his connection to them has simply become so strong that it hurts not to have a friend by his side. Thomas enters the Maze lonely and friendless, but he emerges from The Scorch Trials with a bond to the Gladers that even WICKED can't break.
Well, at least we think WICKED can't break it.
Newt and Minho are Thomas's true friends, and are the only ones he can trust.
The bonds the Gladers create are one of WICKED's Variables.
Getting through The Scorch Trials would be hard enough under any circumstances, but what makes the whole thing even worse is that all of the kids have massive memory lapses. No, seriously—their memories were basically wiped. Thomas, for example, can't remember who he was and what he did before he was placed in the Maze, so he can't even make sense of the situation. All he knows is that his name is Thomas and that he's somewhat special.
Memory loss is damaging in so many ways, but possibly one of the worst ways it damages our heroes is that they were all very bright children before their memories were wiped clean. That means that every kid—yep, even Frypan and Winston—was somehow super important before the Maze trials. Without their memories, who are they now?
The whole point of WICKED's experiment is to make the kids "new," which is why they need to wipe the kids' memories clean.
If Thomas had his memory back, WICKED's plans would be ruined.
The kids in The Scorch Trials have seen and been through more than most of us can ever imagine. Their lives, at this point, are pretty much defined by suffering.
The most striking aspect of the kids' suffering is the mental damage that's being done to them—the negative psychological effects that are bound to arise in the traumatic situations they're regularly placed in. Plus, WICKED is so manipulative that on top of all the violence they have to endure, the kids all suffer trust issues and even identity issues. PTSD, anyone? That's a serious issue, and these kids can't possibly not have it after dealing with such nightmarish situations.
Thomas suffers more than the other kids because he's put through more psychological stress.
The suffering inflicted on the kids is all part of the plan to toughen them.
The defining characteristic of WICKED is that they manipulate everyone and everything. These are the people who make the Variables, who are searching for the patterns, and who are supposedly good. Every event, situation, hardship, you name it—it's all been created by WICKED.
Because of WICKED's extreme abuse of power, the Gladers find themselves in what seems to be a futile situation. They have no power whatsoever, and they if they don't follow orders, they'll die for sure. So what else can they do?
The phrase "WICKED is good" is a code for "WICKED is God."
The Gladers pretty much have no power aside from the power to (try to) survive.
In The Maze Runner, we see Gladers going crazy after they're stung by Grievers. People like Gally and Alby and Ben—they go seriously cray-cray. But in The Scorch Trials, everyone is cray-cray. Why is that? Well, apparently, everyone in the novel, including the Gladers, is infected by the Flare, a disease that eats away at the brain and slowly turns you into a meaty blob of looniness.
Most of the madness we see in The Scorch Trials is literal, not figurative. People actually go crazy, like the full-blown Cranks. One guy's even preoccupied with stealing Thomas's nose. Madness is slowly taking over the world, which makes the search for the cure even direr.
The Cranks' madness is played up by WICKED so that the Gladers are frightened more.
The Flare isn't real.
You're probably wondering why Thomas falls asleep every page or so in The Scorch Trials. Well, it's not just because he's tired; it's also important that we see what happens in his dreams.
Thomas's dreams reveal memories of the past to him, which is something that WICKED can't predict or manipulate (at least, we think they can't). Though dreams aren't real, exactly, they're the most real thing Thomas has. They're proof of who he used to be—and if he can just string them all together, then maybe he can make some sense of this WICKED mumbo jumbo that's going on.
Dreams are an alternate version of reality in most books—they reveal someone's true emotions or feelings—but for Thomas, they're the closest thing to reality that he has.
The dreams that Thomas has are all manipulated by WICKED.
Thomas dreams things that he wantsto be real, but in the end, they're just dreams, not memories.