Summary: Chapter 17

In the Maze, Minho tells Thomas that they’re all as good as dead. He says that the Griever he and Alby went to see was only pretending to be dead, and it stung Alby with one of its many needles; unless Alby gets Grief Serum within a few hours, he’ll die. Minho says they should split up and keep running, and he sprints off into the Maze, leaving Alby and Thomas alone.

Summary: Chapter 18

Thomas hears a horrible metallic grinding sound from inside the Maze, and hoping to evade the approaching Griever, he decides to pull Alby and himself up the wall. Wrapping them both in ivy vines, Thomas slowly moves Alby and himself upward, all the while hearing moaning, clanking, and whirring sounds as a Griever approaches. Thomas manages to secure himself and Alby high up on the wall, and they hang there, awaiting the Griever. Thomas sees the bright red light of a beetle blade spying on him, and again notices the word WICKED printed on its back. The beetle scampers off and Thomas looks down the corridor to see the Griever turn the corner and head toward them.

Summary: Chapter 19

The Griever has the grotesque appearance of a giant slug, but periodically metal spikes push through the skin and propel it forward. It also has random metal arms capped with destructive tools, and red lights that show it the way forward. The Griever moves slowly toward Thomas and Alby, then stops directly below them. Its lights shut off, and for a few minutes, Thomas is in complete darkness. Then the Griever wakes up and starts climbing the wall.

Summary: Chapter 20

Thomas swings on the ivy along the wall, then drops toward the Maze floor. He lands on the Griever, fighting its many metal arms, then jumps down and races through the Maze. When he turns the corner, he sees three more Grievers coming his way.

Summary: Chapter 21

Thomas jumps aside, momentarily eluding the first Griever, then takes off running with all four following him. After a few corridors, Minho pulls Thomas aside and says he has a plan. Minho and Thomas run on, leading the Grievers to the Cliff, a wide-open space at the edge of the Maze. At first, Thomas thinks it’s a way out, then realizes that it’s just an abyss. Thomas and Minho wait for the Grievers to approach, then quickly jump to the side. Three of the four Grievers are unable to stop themselves and tumble over the Cliff. The fourth holds on to the edge until Minho and Thomas kick its metallic legs out from under it, sending it into the abyss, where its sounds are swallowed immediately by darkness. Thomas breaks down in tears.

Analysis: Chapters 17–21

With the three boys trapped outside the walls, a sharp contrast emerges between the attitudes and actions of the newcomer Thomas and the experienced Minho as the Runner begins to suffer perhaps the deadliest affliction of all: loss of hope. Minho’s knowledge of the Maze and its dangers causes him to perceive their situation as a death sentence. As he experiences an emotional surrender to their loss of life, Thomas’s own hope for a chance at survival angers him. When Griever sounds begin to emerge from the Maze, Minho’s last shred of hope causes him to flee in a last-ditch attempt at survival. Thomas, on the other hand, shows creativity, determination, and loyalty as he tries to save Alby and evade the Grievers. His perseverance proves to Minho that hope is a powerful weapon that must never be abandoned and that survival is possible even under the direst circumstances.

In these chapters, the Grievers materialize as a symbol of the psychological warfare used to control the Gladers. Part animal, part machine, the creatures make a variety of noises: whirring, clanking, metallic ringing, clicking like fingernails on glass, and eerie moans Thomas compares to men dying on a battlefield. When Thomas gets his first full look at a Griever up close, he sees how truly horrifying, nightmarish, and grotesque they are. He is disgusted and frightened to encounter the slimy, slug-like creatures, who smell like an overheated engine and burnt flesh. The aural attack of the Griever’s mechanical movements combined with the sound of splitting and cracking rock as it gains on Thomas intensifies his terror. Its needles and claws are filled with a venom that renders a victim helpless and can cause death. There is also mental anguish in knowing that their venom is combatted only by the antidote that triggers the tortuous Changing. The Grievers provide an overwhelming and horrific sensory assault which ensures that the Gladers stay afraid and controlled.

As Minho watches Thomas battle the Grievers alone, he has a realization that will be an important theme throughout the rest of the story: teamwork is critical for survival. Though Runners usually operate alone in the Maze, within the Glade the boys work together to ensure their survival, and so Minho and Thomas must now work together outside the Glade to stay alive. Without his usual shroud of self-assuredness, Minho is able to recognize the ingenuity of Thomas’s evasive diving tactic, and he summons the courage to join Thomas in his fight. Though they barely speak, the boys use intuition to modify their coordinated efforts with each attack as they successfully drive the Grievers over the Cliff. While on their own in the Maze at night, their situation is grim. Together, however, they are able to achieve what no Glader has ever done before: survive a night in the Maze and kill Grievers.