In his journal, Rowan writes that he's amazed at what's happened in the last few months. Scythe Goddard is training him to be a deadly weapon, and he looks forward to performing well at the next conclave.
Given the possibility that Goddard's journal entries aren't genuine, it's questionable whether Rowan's are either—especially since the access to his inner monologue indicates that he's aware that Goddard is bad news.
The engineer at Magnetic Propulsion Laboratories tries to believe that his job is useful. He suspects that after the outrageous and senseless deaths that happened when humans tried to colonize Mars and the moon, the Thunderhead now proceeds cautiously with space exploration. He believes that one day, humans will conquer the universe.
This engineer still believes fully in the righteousness of humans conquering everything they possibly can and notably, still feels good about his job. This offers insight into one of the few ways that humans can feel meaningful in an immortal world.
Volta wakes Rowan up at dawn and tells him to get ready: they're gleaning today. A helicopter arrives on the lawn as Chomsky practices aiming his flamethrower. Rowan tries to do the math of how many people they'll glean and realizes they'll glean about 250. It'll be a massacre. He hesitates, but knows he can't refuse. He tells himself that he's not one of them, but he still feels the same thrill as when he practices gleaning with real people.
Rowan's inner struggle makes it very clear that both compassion and evil are choices, and Rowan is struggling to commit to either. Importantly, he still knows which choice is the right one, but behaving cruelly is starting to feel more natural to him than behaving compassionately.
The helicopter lands on the roof at Magnetic Propulsion Laboratories. Goddard, Chomsky, Rand, Volta, and Rowan push past a security guard, and the scythes race down the stairs. Rowan tells the security guard to run. Goddard decides they'll start on the sixth floor and work down. They take a security badge from a woman and Rand gives Rowan a fire hatchet to break things. The scythes begin walking among cubicles while Goddard speaks, killing everyone. Nobody notices Rowan entering the next room of cubicles and directing people to the back stairway. Rowan continues to quietly tell people how to get out until the massacre ends, fifteen minutes later.
Though the text doesn't mention whether or not the engineer from the beginning of the chapter is gleaned, this mass gleaning suggests that Goddard is trying to make the point that even these "meaningful" jobs have their limits—him. In other words, this is a way for Goddard to display his power and nothing else. Rowan's choice to behave kindly and help people offers hope that Goddard isn't going to corrupt him too terribly.
The building is on fire when Goddard leads Rowan and his followers out. He points out to Rowan that the firefighters can't put the fire out, since they can't interfere with scythes. He loudly announces that the gleaning is over and invites the survivors to step forward and receive immunity. This begins a mad rush for the scythes. Goddard gives his ring to Rowan, and Volta tells Rowan that this is the life of a god.
By giving Rowan his ring and letting him grant immunity, Goddard tries to entice Rowan with some of the more fun aspects of being a scythe. Goddard recognizes that Rowan is susceptible in this regard, and getting to play with this power could bring Rowan over to his side.