Scythe

by

Neal Shusterman

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Scythe: Chapter 19 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Curie writes about a mortal age cartoon in which a coyote tries repeatedly to kill a bird. The coyote's plans backfire every time, but it's funny because he always returns to try again. Curie notes that now, people laugh when someone temporarily dies. She suggests that immortality has turned people into cartoons.
The idea that people are now cartoons isn't necessarily a flattering one, though Curie has a point. The cartoons like the one she mentions overwhelmingly feature characters that don't mature or grow in meaningful ways—just like people in Curie's world.
Themes
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Mortality and Life Theme Icon
That night, Citra asks how Scythe Curie knew she was lying during her test at conclave and admits that she pushed a girl in front of a speeding truck. Curie doesn't express any emotion as she asks what happened. The girl died immediately and nobody, not even the girl, knew that Citra did it. Curie says they'll have to fix this.
Choosing to tell Curie the truth about what she did indicates that Citra is beginning to trust Curie to take care of her and not judge her. In other words, Citra is realizing that there are some members of the Scythedom that she can count on to uphold the ideals, even if it's not all of them.
Themes
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Morality, Compassion, and Choices Theme Icon
The teenager Rhonda Flowers is eating ramen when her terrified mother sends her to the door to speak to "them." Curie tells Rhonda they're not here to glean, so Rhonda closes the door. Citra explains that they used to go to school together, and asks if Rhonda remembers falling in front of the truck. Rhonda thinks that it was annoying, since she missed her dance recital. Citra admits to pushing Rhonda and Rhonda smiles, feeling victorious for finally having proof that someone pushed her. Citra apologizes and says that to make amends, Rhonda can push her in front of a truck now. Rhonda laughs and thinks about it. She says she's busy and asks Citra to take her out to lunch.
It's likely that Curie knew that Rhonda wouldn't take Citra up on this offer—but she also likely knew that it would provide Citra some relief to get this off of her chest. This shows that, as Curie alluded to when she wrote about the coyote and roadrunner cartoons, death really isn't all that meaningful for people anymore—especially when, in most cases, it's not permanent. Rhonda's choice to not push Citra, however, also suggests that people are kinder by nature than one might expect.
Themes
Morality, Compassion, and Choices Theme Icon
Citra is both relieved and humiliated. On the way home, Curie points out that in the Age of Mortality, Citra's transgression would've been called "murder," and she says that Citra will atone for her misdeed by becoming a scythe. Curie says that most people would've forgotten about the crime once Rhonda was revived, but Citra holds onto things. She suggests that this is why Faraday chose her as an apprentice. Citra remarks that she's surprised the Thunderhead didn't see her push Rhonda, but Curie says it probably did, since it has so many cameras. It just decided that Citra wasn't worth punishing.
Here, Curie suggests to Citra that having a guilty conscience is what will make her a good scythe—she'll never be numb to killing and will remember every person she gleans. It's also telling that Citra trusted the Thunderhead so completely and didn't realize that it could simply choose to not punish her. While this may also be the result of a guilty conscience, it suggests that Citra believed the Thunderhead was unshakably good, like she believed the Scythedom was.
Themes
Surveillance, Corruption, and Justice Theme Icon
Morality, Compassion, and Choices Theme Icon
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This idea sticks in Citra's head. She thinks of how, before becoming the Thunderhead, criminals and governments abused the information stored in the cloud. Since Thunderhead came to power, there haven't been any breaches of personal information. It watches and listens, and acts on what it chooses to. Citra wonders if it saw Scythe Faraday die. She wonders if Faraday was murdered.
It's telling that Citra jumps immediately to murder at this point, as it indicates that the Scythedom is doing a very poor job of appearing impartial and good to its new scythes and apprentices. Citra can make this leap because she recognizes the Scythedom is ripe for abuses of power with no oversight.
Themes
Surveillance, Corruption, and Justice Theme Icon