Scythe

by

Neal Shusterman

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Scythe: Chapter 20 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Scythe Goddard writes that when he was young, he thought it was stupid that in the mortal age, people were punished for purposefully killing others. He thinks this is hypocritical, since so many people also loved nature, which killed everyone. Humans are now a greater force than nature, and scythes should be revered like nature once was.
Notice how Goddard is able to use some of the exact same ideas that Curie and Faraday did to justify his horrible actions. This reminds the reader that rules and regulations don't exist in a vacuum; they exist in the hands of humans and can therefore be manipulated and abused.
Themes
Surveillance, Corruption, and Justice Theme Icon
Morality, Compassion, and Choices Theme Icon
While Scythe Volta accompanies Rowan to Goddard's residence, Rowan starts thinking to himself that he's going to die. He and Citra are still opponents and he knows he can't kill her, so he vows to let her win. This makes him angry, as he feels his entire life will have been for nothing. He watches Volta, a junior scythe with "Afric leanings" and gold robes studded with citrines, and insults the robes. Volta laughs, but seems offended when Rowan asks why he follows Goddard. Volta defensively says that Goddard is interested in the Scythedom's future, unlike the old-guard scythes.
The fact that Rowan chooses to throw the competition just because he loves Citra reminds the reader that no matter how much scythe training Rowan will receive, he's still a teenager experiencing normal teenage emotions and the power of his first love. This again reminds the reader that though the Scythedom is supposed to be composed of people in touch with their humanity, it still deprives them of important elements of the human experience in doing so.
Themes
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Mortality and Life Theme Icon
Morality, Compassion, and Choices Theme Icon
The car drives up to a huge estate and lets Rowan and Volta out into the middle of a loud party. A servant leads them to a pool. Goddard is lounging next to it and greets Rowan warmly. Rowan tries to refuse champagne, but Volta shoves a glass in his hand and disappears. Goddard explains that this party is for Rowan. Rowan finds the whole thing surreal as he's never even had a birthday party, and he tries not to be impressed by the spectacle. He sits next to Goddard and questions whether Goddard is following the rules to only own his ring, journal, and robes, and Goddard notes that the estate and party supplies were donated. He suggests that old-guard scythes take things too seriously. Rowan thinks that Scythe Faraday's seriousness is what made him agree to train as a scythe in the first place.
Goddard's insistence that everything was donated is, of course, a loose interpretation of the term—Maxim Easley had little choice but to give Goddard his way, given how powerful scythes are. This again reminds the reader that Goddard is capable of twisting any of the Scythedom's rules in order to fit his own worldview, and suggests too that because of this, Rowan may be vulnerable and at risk here. It seems as though there's hope for Rowan, however, when he recognizes that this is a dangerous situation and reminds himself of how much he admires Faraday.
Themes
Surveillance, Corruption, and Justice Theme Icon
Morality, Compassion, and Choices Theme Icon
Rowan looks around and notices a young girl playing in the pool. He comments that a guest brought their kid, but Goddard says the girl is Esme and she's the most important person in attendance. Goddard says cryptically that Esme is the key to the future as a party girl in a tiny bikini approaches. Goddard asks the young woman to take Rowan and give him a massage. Rowan tries to refuse, but finally accepts and wonders if, since he's going to die, it's okay to indulge.
Rowan's inner monologue suggests that mentally, he's returning to the mindset he held for the non-apprentice portions of his life as a coping mechanism. Per his logic, his life doesn't matter now anyway since he's going to let Citra win, so it isn’t so bad if he participates in Goddard's parties. This again shows that behaving morally isn't a state of being; it's a choice that must be made repeatedly.
Themes
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Morality, Compassion, and Choices Theme Icon
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