Morality in The Maze Runner: Alby’s Descent

In James Dashner’s The Maze Runner, a boy named Thomas is delivered to some place called the Glade in a small elevator-like box. Upon arrival, Thomas has no recollection of any past memories, other than his name. Fortunately, he is not alone and has support of a large group of boys within his age group. He makes friends and finds a meaning under the leader of the group named Alby. Thomas’ morals are early defined in the novel as he shows bravery and determination to help his fellow “Gladers” to survive and find a way out of the Maze surrounding the Glade. However, Thomas’ leader Alby shows an interesting comparison between character traits dealing with morality from the start of the book until his suicide prior to escape. Affecting many of the Gladers due to his role has leader, Alby’s change in moral direction is very interesting to dissect.

Given the situation where a random selection of teenaged boys are thrust into a survival situation with the common trend of amnesia among each, it would sound like there would be a whole lot of disarray. Fortunately, though, the boys in The Maze Runner are all genetically superior adolescents who have intellect far greater than the normal human. They may seem normal, but their unconscious processing is what sets them apart. Alby, their leader, is given leadership due to his apparent drive for stability in and escape from the Glade. Early in the novel, Alby displays his conscientious attitude as he shows Thomas around the Glade on his second day there; “‘We don’t know jack about the Box, you get me?’ Alby continued. ‘Where it came from, how it gets here, who’s in charge. The shanks that sent us here ain’t told us nothin’. We got all the electricity we need, grow and raise most of our food, get clothes and such'” (Dashner, 42). Alby shows that he knows what he’s doing and he is straight to the point in doing so. His tone also puts forth a sense of urgency. Prior to being attacked by a griever in the Maze, Alby’s moral compass is dedicated to leadership, urgency, and seriousness. However, once he finally recieves the sting from a griever and proceeds to endure a mind altering experience called “The Changing,” the directions of his morality change for the worse.

After witnessing Alby’s drastic change in attitude while recovering from his Griever sting (along with the harsh memories of life outside the maze that the Changing brings him), the reader can easily predict that Alby will not be fit to lead the group. Eventually, Alby gives full leadership to his second-in-command, Newt. Alby still realizes what is best for the group, but his courage to continue trying to escape the maze will decline due to his inability to accept the reality that awaits him beyond the maze. Because he now knows the true horrors of the world (burned earth and widespread disease), Alby’s moral compass is based off of fear and cowardice. In the end, he ends up “sacrificing” himself to the grievers and is brutally murdered. What the Glader’s percieve as his “sacrifice” for the group is actually Alby’s intentional suicide to avoid dealing with harsh reality.

Alby’s great difference in character between the beginning and the end shows that even the most genetically superior people can be changed drastically. His foil, Newt,  who eventually replaces Alby as leader stays strong throughout the novel following a compass of friendship, determination, and logic. Newt’s personality is what should have led the group all along, but who’s to say that some crazy sting from a monster won’t change that?


About NateFuller

Amateur computer scientist, elite eater of foods.
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10 Responses to Morality in The Maze Runner: Alby’s Descent

  1. Grant Solis says:

    Nathan Fuller, this was an amazing read. I personally can’t wait for part 2, I too had the same viewpoint of Alby’s intentional “suicide” in my post as well and i agree with you on this. The only thing that would be “wrong” with your post would be its clarity with your thesis and hook. You get straight to the point in your opening paragraph and i think if you use a hook or lead you can interest a wider range of readers.

  2. scriordan94 says:

    I like how you compared the moral compasses of two different characters rather than just exploring one person’s, it’s different than what everyone else did and gives a better view of the book as a whole. I haven’t read this book yet but after reading your post I think I might, it sounds very interesting. You mentioned that Alby had the personality traits to be a leader in the situation that they were thrown into, do you think that those characteristics would have made him a leader in the outside world, or were they only relevant as long as he was in the Glade?

  3. kailey mazzilli says:

    Really Great post! I read this book too and it was so hard to introduce it because there’s so much to it. It was so hard to explain everything and eventually get to the end. I didn’t have my book so I couldn’t use quotes but the quote you used was perfect right in the middle and you did a great job introducing it. I don’t think anything is wrong with this blog, it’s really good and would make me want to read the book if I hadn’t already. I’m interested though, would you have done what Thomas did and got stung by a Griever to get your memories back and possibly escape?

    • Thanks for the comment Kailey,
      Honestly, I’m not sure if I would do what Thomas did. I think i would be too much of a wimp to go near a Griever. I would be to concerned that the actual thing would kill me instead of just poke me with a needle. So probably not. I’m nowhere near as brave as Thomas is.

  4. Daniel Justice says:

    Nathanial you did a good job of detailing things about the characters. As someone who didn’t read the book I literally had no idea what this book was about going into your blog post, but now I feel very informed.

    However, I feel like you didn’t delve too deeply into the actual morals of the book, though you told me what they are. I do like how you formed their morals into moral compasses. How clever of you…

    So Nathan, if it were up to me I’d give you a 4 out of 5 stars. Or however people rate these blogs.

  5. Maura Katherine Flaherty says:

    This books sounds amazing! Is it worth reading? Anyways you had some exciting quotes. They really added some “umph” to you’re essay. I loved the compass metaphore you used, brings me back to a week ago. Good Job.

  6. Tyler Scags says:

    The story sounds amazingly interesting to read. You did a great job showing how Alby’s compass drastically changes in a matter of such a short time.Your essay covered the story perfectly, but I’d like to know a bit more about Thomas. He is the main character and I do not know anything about him. But the way you wrote your essay makes me feel as if Alby is more significant than Thomas. Great job!

  7. Chris Cummings says:

    Really curious about what the grievers actually look like. Also, it’s great to see someone else from our class take advantage of using quotes to better express characters. I find Alby basically just breaking down after discover the truth about the world compelling because it sounds like would happen to most people if they were pressed into his situation. You said eventually becomes a great leader, but do you think he could handle that leadership role after being stung by a griever as well? Overall good post Nate.

  8. Tucker Wheaton says:

    Nate, this was without a doubt the best post i have read. your writing is clear and concise, and also your analysis was deep into the character of Alby. i felt like i knew him from the inside out. you consistently backed up your analysis with evidence from the text. i really can’t find anything to criticize within your post. you should be proud, this is A+ material.

  9. Pingback: This Weeks Comments « scriordan94

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