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?