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The Maze Runner

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Rebecca Hopper

on 25 July 2014

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Transcript of The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner
Appearance First,
Personality Second.
The Spectacular Now
Image by Tom Mooring
Women in The Spectacular Now
The Maze Runner
by Rebecca Hopper

In the books I studied, The Maze Runner by James Dashner and the Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp, I found various examples of sexist behavior, exhibited by the male characters toward the female character[s]. The most prominent ways I found were, that many male characters put physical appearance above skill and personality, they see feminine traits as a negative thing, and masculine traits as a positive thing, and they sexually objectify female characters.
The Maze Runner is a book with all teenage, male characters, except for one female. It takes place in a dystopian society in the future, inside a maze. Every month, one boy is brought to the maze with no memories, except for his name and basic information about life. The boys don't know why they've been brought to the maze, but they develop a society called the Glade where everybody has a role, and each day, the runners set out to try to find a way out of the maze, which is inhabited by extremely dangerous creatures called Grievers. When the Glade unusually gets two new people in two days, and one of them is a girl that arrives with a disturbing message, things start to get more hectic than ever before.
Due to gender roles, stereotypes, and the inequality between men and women in society, male characters in young adult literature are often sexist toward women, sometimes without even realizing it.
by James Dashner
by Tim Tharp
The Spectacular Now is a coming of age story centered around a party boy named Sutter Keely with absolutely no plans for the future, and his journey. Sutter is a boy who doesn't believe in thinking ahead, and likes to live life in the here and now. When Sutter meets Aimee, a less popular, sheltered girl, he takes it upon himself to try to transform her, when in fact, she changes him. Perhaps, after a series of ups and downs, they actually help each other to change.
"Female" Traits = Negative
"Male" Traits = Positive
Females = Sexual Objects
Through both these works, The Spectacular Now and The Maze Runner, it is clear that due to gender roles, stereotypes, and the inequality between men and women in society, male characters in young adult literature are often sexist toward women, sometimes without even realizing it. Readers see this through physical appearance being above capabilities, female traits being looked down upon, and sexual objectification. Sadly, the young men in these novels, like young men in today's society, probably don't even realize they're being sexist toward women in a number of things they do everyday. Nor, do they see anything wrong with this behavior.
"And I'm sure what she's saying is right. It's well thought out and insightful and all those things that make for a good grade on a five-paragraph essay in English, but I just can't keep my mind focused on it when she's sitting there right next to me looking like she does." (Tharp, 15)
The Spectacular Now
Sutter is talking about is ex girlfriend, Cassidy, and suggesting that her physical beauty is distracting and more important than her intelligence.
The Spectacular Now
When Sutter first meets Aimee, according to the synopsis on the back of the book, he sees her as nothing more than a "social disaster" that he needs to help. Aimee is different than Sutter, but she's beautiful and innocent, so she's worthy of his "help". He treats her as a charity case, rather than a person.
The Maze Runner
The Maze Runner
When Thomas awakens to see Teresa standing over him, he describes her as being, "...impossibly--even more striking than when he'd seen her in a coma. Black hair framed the fair skin of her face, with eyes the blue of pure flame." (Dashner, 233)

Rather than focusing on her strength and endurance, (having come out of a coma), instead, he focuses on her beauty as if it's the only thing that matters.
In both books, the male authors have created male characters that are constantly focusing on the females' appearances above all else. In The Spectacular Now, Sutter is obsessed with Cassidy's beauty, and willing to help "fix" Aimee, because at least she's beautiful. Similarly, in The Maze Runner the Gladers never mention Teresa without mentioning her beauty first.
The Spectacular Now
When Sutter describes Cassidy as being the best girlfriend ever, he says she can "chug a beer faster than most guys [he] know[s]." (Tharp, 11), but then mentions that "...she does believe in astrology, but I don't even care about that. It's a girl thing." (Tharp, 11).

Sutter's main reason for thinking he has the best girlfriend is because of a trait he thinks is masculine, and at the same time he also belittles her when he refers to astrology as being a "girl thing" and this gives it a negative connotation. Astrology is a common interest that anybody can enjoy, so why should it be made out to be something only worthy of a girl's interest.
The Maze Runner
Teresa spends much of the book in a coma and can't contribute to anything in the Glade.

Why her? Why not one of the boys? It seems like he is suggesting that she was too dainty and feminine to handle something that all of the boys in the Glade previously had: being brought to the glade in a lift. It begs the question, why did the story need a hero and not a heroine?
When Teresa arrives in the maze, they think she might be dead, but they seemed more concerned with her appearance than her health, or why she might be there. "Thomas (...) concentrated on the girl; despite her paleness, she was really pretty. More than pretty. Beautiful. Silky hair, flawless skin, perfect lips, long legs. It made him sick to think that way about a dead girl, but he couldn't look away." (Dashner, 56)

Even though they think she's dead, the Gladers still focus on her physical appearance above all else, and admittedly, they can't help but do so.
The Spectacular Now
Sutter talks to a little boy who is running away to Florida because, "[his] mom made [his] dad move away and now he's in Florida." (Tharp, 5). Sutter tells the boy that he's been through the same thing.

The way these boys talk about their mothers "making their fathers leave" makes their mothers out to be villains for taking steps in their lives to make themselves happy and ultimately to improve their children's lives.
The Maze Runner
When Teresa first awakens and is talking to Thomas, Newt runs out of the woods and is startled by her prescence. He looks at Teresa and asks her how she got there. Teresa replies, "Guess [the med-jack] forgot to tell the little part about me kicking him in the groin and climbing out the window." (Dashner, 238). Newt teases the medic, "Congrats, Jeff, (...) [y]ou're officially the first guy here to get your butt beat by a
." (Dashner, 238).

The male characters in this scene seem surprised that Teresa could have such "masculine" traits, such as confidence and the strength to beat a guy. They even go on to make fun of the male medic for getting beaten by a female, belittling him for being defeated by somebody who is supposed to be inferior.
In both books, the male authors have created male characters that see female traits in a negative light, and male traits in a positive light. In The Spectacular Now, Sutter is impressed by Cassidy's "masculine" traits, and mocks her "girly" traits and paints single moms as monsters. Likewise, in The Maze Runner, Teresa is reduced to a coma for a majority of the book, and when she wakes up, the boys are impressed with her for being so masculine, and look down upon the male medic for showing "feminine" weakness.
The Maze Runner
When Teresa arrives in the Glade, half dead, you hear this conversation between some of the boys: "A
?" - "I got dibs!" - "What's she look like?" (Dashner, 54).

The boys immediately objectify her as a sexual object by claiming her as if she's a piece of meat. We know that when the boys call "dibs" on her, they mean they want the first shot at pursuing her either romantically or sexually.
The Spectacular Now
When Sutter takes the little runaway boy home, the first thing he notices about the boy's mother is that "...-she's hot. She looked so young it's hard to even think of her as a MILF." (Tharp, 9)

Of all the things one might notice when returning a runaway child to their home, like the state of their house, and living conditions, Sutter notices his mother's appearance, and not in an appreciative way, instead, he sees her as "hot" and a mother he'd like to have sex with.
The Maze Runner
When Thomas is falling asleep one night, Teresa begins communicating telepathically with him. He describes this experience as being like, "...a pretty, feminine voice that sounded as if it came from a fairy-goddess trapped in his skull." (Dashner, 217).

It seems that with every mention of Teresa, she's seen as an attractive object. In this description he compares her voice to that of a goddess, which, in itself, has a sexual connotation.
The Spectacular Now
Sutter says, "...they wouldn't know what to do with a girl if she came in a box with the instructions on the lid like Operation or Monopoly(...)" (Tharp, 2)

Already, on the second page, we see Sutter objectifying women by comparing them to board games as if women's feelings and sexualities are a game to be won.
In both books, the male authors create male characters who sexually objectify women. In The Spectacular Now, Sutter refers to women as hot MILFs, and makes females out to be games that males aim to win. On the same note, in The Maze Runner, certain boys claim ownership over Teresa the second she arrives, and Thomas compares her to that of a Goddess, which carries a sexual connotation all on its own.
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