Neal Shusterman

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Scythe: Chapter 11 Summary & Analysis

Scythe Curie writes that humans aren't what they once were. Now, humans cannot grasp the emotions expressed in Age of Mortality art and literature; only love stories still resonate, and even then, they seem strange. Curie says that mortals thought love was eternal, but now, people know this isn't true. She wonders what humans are if they're no longer human.
This entry suggests that humans in Curie's present are in a sort of transformative phase. They're still bound to their predecessors by a fear of death, but they're becoming something different that shares little in common emotionally with humans of the past.
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In early May, Scythe Faraday takes only Citra with him to a gleaning of a young man with a wife and two kids. The man slips into a bedroom when Faraday explains why he's here but rather than accept his fate, the man breaks Faraday's jaw. Citra struggles to perform some Bokator moves as Faraday slits the man's throat, leaving Citra to sit with him while he gleans the rest of the family. Citra listens as Faraday sharply tells the wife to show courage. When the woman is done comforting her children, Faraday says that the man didn't fight back—he and Citra had a fight. He grants the woman and her children immunity, and when he and Citra get home, he tells her she can't even write about this in her journal. Citra admires Faraday for his compassion.
It's impossible to tell whether Faraday told the woman he'd glean her because he honestly thought he was going to or to impress upon her the seriousness of what her husband did, but regardless, this instance brings the moral ambiguity of the scythe's job to the forefront. Even as Faraday exercises his compassion by lying and letting the family live, he still terrified them on the way there—and broke the Scythedom's rules in the process. With this, Citra begins to gain some nuance and understand that there are times when breaking the rules is appropriate.
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Every night, Citra is tasked with bringing Faraday a glass of warm milk before bed. Often, after difficult gleanings, Faraday is already asleep, so either Citra or Rowan drink it. The night of the man's resistance, Faraday is asleep. His ring catches Citra's eye, so she picks it up to inspect it. She notices that Faraday is awake but instead of punishing her, he offers to let her try the ring on. She puts it on and asks if Faraday worries about someone stealing it. She realizes the ring is freezing and rips it off. Where she touched the ring, her fingers are frostbitten. Faraday inspects her hand and suggests she'll learn now to not touch others' things. He says that Rowan should bring his milk going forward. Citra apologizes, but Faraday says he orchestrated this and wants to see how long it'll take Rowan to touch the ring.
Curiosity about others' things is a normal and natural part of being human—and in this day and age, given the Thunderhead's oversight, it seems to be as far as people go (stealing seems uncommon and quickly punished, if it happens at all). This suggests that Faraday's attempt to bait Citra and now Rowan is, more than anything, an attempt to get each of them to retreat even further into their own isolated world and not engage with the outside world like they once did.
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