The narrator gives a poem from the collected works of Scythe Socrates. It says that scythes are a weapon wielded by humanity, and that they're tragic songs sung by all humans.
By insisting that scythes are an essential part of the way that humans live in the immortal age, Scythe Socrates encourages people to understand their own complicity in gleanings.
Rowan arrives alone for Winter Conclave, dressed in black. As he ascends the steps, one scythe slips. Rowan tries to help him up, but the man spits that he doesn't want Rowan's help. Another scythe at the top of the stairs wishes Rowan luck and invites him for tea if he achieves scythehood. Citra stands with Scythe Curie, listening to the chatter about the tragedy at the Tonist cloister. She's angry to realize that scythes are only upset that scythes died; they're not at all upset that Goddard gleaned Tonists.
Recall that scythes all wear different colored robes, so that when they gather at conclave, the group looks like a rainbow, thus signaling that scythes are meant to represent light and good things for humanity. Thus, dressing in black is another way that Rowan can signal to others that he's not really interested in earning the ring, even if he's going through the motions and participating in his final test and in Winter Conclave. Citra's anger that people aren't mourning the Tonists shows that over the course of the year, she's learned that all people are deserving of respect and compassion, no matter how eccentric.
Curie anxiously says that Scythe Mandela told her that Citra performed well last night, but she says she won't forgive herself if Citra loses. Citra assures her that between her and Scythe Faraday, she's well prepared. Smiling and tearing up, Curie invites Citra to stay on as her apprentice. Citra calls her Marie and says she'd be happy to stay. Several other scythes approach to tease Curie about Faraday's embarrassing journal entry, and Citra watches Rowan enter the rotunda. She notices that Rowan seems strangely cold. Curie instructs Citra to not look at or talk to Rowan.
Agreeing to stay on with Curie indicates that Citra now sees her mentor as a full, multifaceted person with a lot to teach her going forward and a great deal of loyalty yet to show. Calling her Marie—after Scythe Curie’s Patron Historic, scientist Marie Curie—specifically shows that Citra feels she's becoming Curie's equal, at least in status, which indicates that Citra sees herself at this point as having made great strides in her coming-of-age process.
Rowan doesn't approach Citra. He knows that if Citra wins, she'll glean him. He's afraid to die, but he's more afraid of the monster he's become. If he wins, he's decided that he'll just refuse to glean Citra. The worst that will happen is that they'll punish him, as they can't glean him. As Rowan eats breakfast, he watches Citra and thinks she's impossibly beautiful.
Rowan's inner monologue shows that, like Curie, he now understands that there's only so much the Scythedom can do to punish someone—and after what Goddard taught him, he's not afraid of being punished and knows he can stand up to anything.
Citra tunes out most of the morning's business until Xenocrates begins a debate on banning fire as a method of gleaning. Curie murmurs to Citra that though the fire was terrible, some scythes are glad to see Goddard gone. The motion passes. At six that evening, a scythe calls up candidates for the scythehood. There's only Citra and Rowan, as the other two candidates have already been dismissed.
Citra's inability to pay attention to the morning proceedings reminds the reader that while Citra is poised to win the scythehood, she's still young and doesn't fully understand the intricacies of the rituals. In other words, she still has a long way to go as she comes of age.