Study Guide

Thomas in The Scorch Trials

By James Dashner

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One Depressing Piece of Klunk

"You're one depressing piece of klunk, slinthead" (9.19).

That's what Minho has to say about our hero, Thomas—and there are some pretty good reasons why he might think so. Thomas is the downest Debbie, the most negative Nancy, the ultimate pessimistic Patty. He might be some kind of chosen one when it comes to WICKED's plans, but he's always the first one to point out that the kids' lives aren't all that great. After all, in his words, "The whole world sucks" (12.7).

The biggest problem with Thomas being a sad-sack all of the time, of course, is that he's our protagonist, and this is a totally limited third-person narrative, so we're always in this dude's head. That means that we're stuck reading thought after thought like this one: "Sometimes I wonder... If being alive matters. If being dead might be a lot easier," won't give us a very positive attitude while we're reading" (5.14).

Still, it's all of these depressing thoughts make Thomas the oddly lovable character he is. Every time he says something sad, we're all, Oh, that Thomas, always being a Debbie Downer. Every time he predicts that everyone will die horrible deaths, we're all, Ha, he's at it again. To be honest, his bad attitude actually becomes kind of funny, and Dashner plays this personality trait up to his character's advantage.

Thomas is kind of depressing piece of klunk, and it's actually kind of hilarious at times when he points out the painfully obvious, such as this gem: "'He shot me.' It just came out, a new number one on the list of the dumbest things he'd ever said" (40.7).

Thomas is just one of those kids who verbalizes everything, no matter how sad or blatantly obvious it might be. And though this can get a bit depressing now and then, it's hard to not laugh when it happens.

The Real Leader

Despite fulfilling the Negative Nancy role in Group A, Thomas has something special about him, which is one reason wwhy he's our protagonist. Now, he doesn't exactly have any outstanding qualities—he's not super strong, super smart, or super crafty, as far as know—but there's something about him that makes him "The Real Leader" (35.53).

Remember, Thomas has random dreams throughout the book, and from these dreams we can see that there's something different about him. He knows that he somehow worked for or with WICKED, but he doesn't know why or how: "'I'm not special,' Thomas said, even though he knew he was hiding something. He just didn't know what" (42.45).

Thoughts like this buzz around his head all book, and even the Gladers know something's up with Thomas. In The Maze Runner, everything started going bananas when Thomas showed up—the closing of the Maze, Teresa's appearance, the escape, all that jazz. It was Thomas that started the whole thing.

So what makes Thomas a leader? Well, it's not entirely clear yet (we think it'll become much clearer in the next book), but for one thing, instead of being someone who stands up and fights, like Minho, Thomas seems to lead in other, more instinctual ways: "For some reason Thomas thought it should be up to him to go next, so he did" (3.39).

This "for some reason" is what we're all wondering about, but Thomas knows there's something unusual or significant about himself, something that differentiates him from the other Gladers. So what does Thomas do with this instinct? Well, in some cases, he actually leads. You know, like a leader. Take his negotiations with Jorge as an example: "Me and you. Ten minutes. Alone. That's all I ask. Bring all the weapons you need" (26.45).

Thomas isn't your average tough-guy leader, but he still holds a dominant role within Group A—and even Group B. Weird stuff happens to him; he's even saved by WICKED after he gets shot. So, with this heightened sense of importance, Thomas can actually take on the role of the real leader—despite Minho's tattoo, which has labeled him as the leader.

Relationship Status: It's Complicated

Thomas and Teresa? Oh, boy, is this a hot mess.

The relationship between Thomas and Teresa isn't complicated in that Well, we're dating but not really kind of sense. It's more like I like her, and I think she likes me, too, but she mighttttt want to kill me. Oh, and we can talk to each other telepathically. No big deal.

Thomas and Teresa are separated in the beginning of the book, which creates a lot of chaos in the mind of the young Thomas. Everywhere he looks, he's thinking: Is Teresa here?: "But... it could be her. Might be her. Maybe something had happened to their ability to communicate" (20.5).

Yup, every girl this guy sees he thinks might just be Teresa; she's all he can think about. The problem is that he's not even sure if he should like her. She's "The Betrayer," after all, and she sure does betray him over and over again. (Or does she?) That's all right with Thomas, sort of. He still trusts that she's the gal for him: "He wanted to be with her. Even if she'd been turned against him somehow. Even if she was being manipulated by WICKED, like Alby and Gally had been" (44.37).

We wouldn't go as far as to say that our hero desperate; he's just a little head over heels in love. Teresa is the one person he feels connected to in a whole bunch of ways—romantically, socially, even mentally—so perhaps we shouldn't blame him for being so ignorant of the whole "Betrayer" thing.

Even so, Thomas sure does throw all logic out of the window when it comes to Teresa. He follows her everywhere, even when she beats him on the head with a spear and threatens to kill him. If we were in his position, we might start to think, Hmm, maybe she's not on our team anymore. Thomas, though? No such thoughts.

We would also like to point out that the relationship timeline between Thomas and Teresa is utterly messed up:

  • They're besties.
  • Teresa stops talking to Thomas telepathically.
  • They kiss.
  • The next time they see each other, Teresa beats Thomas up with a spear and takes him to a place to be killed.
  • When he doesn't die, Teresa claims it was all an act to save his life.
  • He's all angry at her.

Yeesh, talk about drama.

All by Myself

When we leave Thomas, he's by himself in a white room. He's all alone—again—and as confused as ever. This isn't the only time he's been alone, though: in fact, Thomas has pretty much been on his own team the whole book.

The only time Thomas isn't alone is in the first chapter, when he finally feels safe. Despite being in a different area from Teresa, his connection to her is what makes him feel like he's on a team: "A long stretch of silence followed, though somehow Thomas could still sense her presence. He felt her... When someone is close by, you just know it" (1.27).

Hmm, so Thomas is feeling pretty darn good in the beginning of the book, especially given that he's in such a crappy situation. So what on earth happened to our hero's feeling of security? His sense of being in Teresa's presence?

Well, WICKED took Teresa away, and when they did that, Thomas no longer has his telepathic connection to his best friend. Plus, WICKED has manipulated Teresa into becoming the bad guy, so Thomas actually thinks he's trying to find his friend when he's really looking for the person who has been set against him. As you can see, Thomas is pretty much in a stranglehold, and the only ally he really has is himself—not WICKED, not Teresa, not even Minho or Newt. He's just got himself.

So, at the end of the book, when Teresa apologizes and such, Thomas finally tells her: "Don't say another word. Just... leave me alone. And you can tell WICKED that I'm done plunge their games. Tell them I'm done!" (65.33).

In The Maze Runner and in pretty much all of The Scorch Trials, Thomas is just a Glader from Group A who happens to be a bit more special than the others, but he's still just another Glader. At this point, though, we can see now that he's gone rogue. Sure, he's still allied with Newt and Minho and the Gladers, but he can't trust a soul anymore. He's now out for himself only.

Hopefully, this means our hero won't be feeling so sorry for himself anymore and will stop being so pessimistic. What we do know is that is that by telling Teresa to skedaddle, Thomas becomes a changed person. He's not a weak newbie anymore: he's ready to be the leader—of the Gladers and of his own destiny.

Thomas in The Scorch Trials Study Group

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