Point of View, or POV, is a critical part of stories. It determines how the reader feels about various characters, and what they know. Often, when the author wants the reader to connect with the main character better, the book will be written in the first person POV of the main character. James Dashner’s The Maze Runner does not follow this convention. It is written in the 3rd person limited, following the main character, Thomas. Despite the the fact that Thomas is not telling the reader the story directly, there is almost no detachment from the story. Instead, the reader feels as if they are experiencing and learning everything with Thomas. The use of Thomas’s 3rd person limited POV in this story allows the reader to feel like they are a part of the story, and therefore, more invested.
In the first two chapters of the book, the only thing Thomas knows about himself is his name. In the third chapter, Thomas asks Chuck, one of the other characters, how old he thinks he is. Chuck answers the question somewhat blandly, not knowing how shocking the answer would be to Thomas. “Thomas was so stunned he’d barely heard the last part. Sixteen? He was only sixteen? He felt so much older.” Thomas thinks with the intelligence and maturity of an adult, yet all the boys in the Glade are just that, boys. Logic tells the reader that Thomas has to be around the same as the rest of them, but since the story is told through what Thomas sees and thinks, it feels like he is older than he really is. His age is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to things Thomas and the reader have to learn about the Glade and the Maze. A review of The Maze Runner in The Guardian perfectly summarizes this. At one point, the review states, “Thomas knew NOTHING and nobody would tell him what he wanted to know so I kinda ended up getting as frustrated as Thomas.” In the first several chapters of the story, Thomas is still learning and adjusting to the new language and surroundings. He is curious, as is the reader. However, the Gladers are a very secretive group. He has to learn like the rest of them did. That sentiment is a large part of the reason why the reader feels like they are a part of the story. They are learning as Thomas learns, and are feeling the same irritation and annoyance as him.
Later in the novel, Thomas is stuck in the Maze, at night, with an unconscious Alby, the Glade’s leader, and a panicked Minho, the Keeper of the Runners. Minho told him it was pretty much fend for yourself and ran off, leaving Thomas alone with Alby. Minho did not try to help Thomas at all, leaving him with no experience or advice. “A sudden dislike for the guy swelled up inside him. Minho was the veteran in this place, a Runner. Thomas was a Newbie, just a few days in the Glade, a few minutes in the Maze. Yet of the two of them, Minho had broken down and panicked, only to run off at the first sign of trouble.” Through out the novel, the Gladers put immense amounts of emphasis on the danger of the Maze. No one but the Runners are supposed to go out there. And no one is ever supposed to go out there at night. The worst punishment they have in the Glade is banishing someone into the Maze for a night. They never come back. Thomas, who was aware of the danger of the Maze, went out to help Alby and Minho anyway. The fact that Minho leaves him at the first sign of danger leaves both Thomas and the reader feeling betrayed. Thomas had grown to trust and like Minho, and because of the way Dashner writes Thomas’s experience, so did the reader. This is a bit surprising, because with most 3rd person POVS, even 3rd person limited, are normally detached and slightly distant from the characters. However, the perspective gained using the 3rd person is very useful throughout the novel. Dashner’s ability to combine emotion and thoughts with perspective guides the reader, allowing them to understand the story like Thomas, and making them feel like Newbies as well.
After the events that transpired in the Maze, the Keepers try to figure out what they should do with Thomas. He did break the biggest rule they had, but he also saved two of the most important people in the Glade. Everyone was arguing about what should happen to him. Minho suggested that Thomas take his place as Keeper of the Runners. This did not go over well with everyone. “When everyone started talking at once, Thomas put his head in his hands to wait it out, awed and terrified at the same time. Why had Minho said that? Has to be a joke, he thought.” This is one of the best examples of the emotional description of Thomas. Dashner uses the perspective that any 3rd person POV gives the reader, and combines it masterfully with the emotion Thomas is experiencing. This allows the reader to feel as if they are in the room with Thomas, watching everything happen. The lack of in depth description of emotion allows the reader to put themselves in Thomas’s shoes, and feel the emotions they would feel in his place. Because of the way Dashner wrote this scene, each reader interprets it in their own way. They can each come up with different scenarios for what they believe is going to happen. Dashner provides a base, a jumping board of sorts, allowing the reader to experience the story with Thomas.
Dashner’s use of POV in this novel immerses the reader in the experience of being new to the Glade and the Maze. The reader does not know much of anything at first, which allows them to sympathize with Thomas, and understand him and the whole experience better. If it was told from any other character's POV, the reader would have felt like Thomas was annoying and strange, since they would not be able understand the inner workings of his mind. Following Thomas also allowed the reader to fully understand the process all of the boys went through.The 3rd person limited POV gives a necessary perspective to the story, but does not separate the reader from the story or Thomas. The reader learns every bit of information as Thomas does, often at a slow and antagonizing pace. This immerses them in the experience of the Glade and the Maze, and allows them to become part of the story.
Dashner, James. The Maze Runner. First ed. New York: Delacorte, 2009. Print. The Maze Runner Ser.
"The Maze Runner by James Dashner - Review." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited, 15 Sept. 2014. Web. 08 Jan. 2015. <http%3A%2F%2Fwww.theguardian.com%2Fchildrens-books-site%2F2014%2Fsep%2F15%2Freview-the-maze-runner-james-dashner>.