Scythe Goddard writes that gleanings should be iconic so that they achieve immortality in the collective memory. He says that this is why scythes are here: to connect people to their mortal past. He feels he owes people a "spectacular end."
Though Scythe Goddard's insistence that death shouldn't be forgotten would likely go over well among most scythes, his focus on spectacle suggests that he's in this more for his own selfish motives than for anything else.
Rowan can feel himself growing numb. He remembers Scythe Faraday telling him to not “lose [his] humanity,” as losing that would turn him into a "killing machine," and now he gets it. He believes that gleaning becomes just killing once a person is desensitized to it. One afternoon, after Rowan gleans five dummies with a samurai sword, Goddard reprimands him for "attacking like a bot." Goddard says that Rowan needs to embrace his predatory nature and enjoy killing. Though Rowan wants to hate this, he does find that there's something attractive about honing his skills. Goddard gives Rowan a knife and sends him back at the dummies.
Here, Rowan is doing everything he can to hold on to some sense of compassion and human decency, as he recognizes that Goddard is corrupt and has extremely questionable ideas about what constitutes a good scythe. Notice too that Goddard is training Rowan with multiple dummies in a way that seems extremely violent. Even if Rowan were to become a scythe, with this training, he'd have to work very hard to glean like Faraday or Curie do.
Rowan spends his days training with Goddard, Chomsky, Volta, and Rand. Rowan often disagrees with what Goddard says, but he never argues. Because of this, Rowan begins hearing Goddard's voice in his head. Some days, Goddard throws parties that seem to start out of nowhere. Rowan notices that more and more scythes come to the parties over time.
The fact that Rowan starts to hear Goddard's voice in his head speaks to the power of a mentor on a young person like Rowan, even if that mentor isn't a good person. A mentor still has the power to fundamentally change the way a young person thinks and turn them into someone entirely different.
Rowan grows strong and muscular. He writes thoughtful things in his journal, but it's not genuine—Goddard reads everything. Rowan sometimes ignores his vow to let Citra win the scythehood, and he wonders if he'd be like Faraday or like Goddard. He wonders if it'd be a tragedy to enjoy gleaning. Volta is the only person who seems aware that Rowan doesn't fully buy Goddard's philosophy. Rowan likes Volta the best, as Volta seems genuine and explains why Goddard beat Rowan. He insists that feeling pain allows them to experience more joy, which Rowan thinks might be correct.
The simple fact that Rowan is even considering whether it'd be awful to be like Goddard as a scythe speaks to the power that Goddard has over him at this point. Were he still with Faraday, Rowan would likely be able to see immediately that being like Goddard would be a humanitarian tragedy. Volta's role as a secondary mentor means that Rowan has one voice of reason (at least relatively) to guide him in the right direction, which may allow Rowan to take the useful bits and discard the harmful ones.
Esme lurks around Goddard's mansion and continues to perplex Rowan. She seems to like Rowan and tells him to stay with Goddard after he becomes a scythe. One morning, she follows Rowan into the weight room and tries to convince him to play cards with her. Rowan has no choice but to agree. After their game, Volta reminds Rowan that they need to keep Esme happy and be nice to her.
It's telling here that Volta presumably doesn't know either why Goddard has Esme, and yet, he's not willing to question Goddard's motivations in front of Rowan. This tells Rowan that Volta is more sold on Goddard's way of doing things than Rowan might like.
One day, Rowan arrives for training to find Chomsky, Volta, and Rand there with Goddard and a bunch of people. Rowan realizes with horror that he's going to practice gleaning on real people. Goddard assures him that the people will be taken away by ambudrones; he's not going to actually glean them. He says that the people are being paid and tells Rowan to do his job. Rowan wants to refuse, but he's terrified to discover that he knows how to do this and can do it if he ignores his conscience. Goddard asks Rowan to kill all but one person. Rowan takes a deep breath and flies at the volunteers, leaving the last girl alive. Goddard praises Rowan, and Rowan smiles. Half of him is disgusted; the other half is euphoric.
This exercise is a clear attempt on Goddard's part to desensitize Rowan to the act of killing. Citra will later mention that though people are immortal, it's still impossible for people in this world to differentiate between real and temporary death—which means this will be traumatizing for everyone involved. Rowan's euphoria afterwards suggests that Goddard might be correct that there's something violent latent in all people—just like kindness, however, acting on one or the other is a conscious choice.