Scythe

by

Neal Shusterman

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Scythe: Chapter 8 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Scythe Curie admits that there are things that even scythes don't understand. Earlier, a woman asked Curie where she'll go after gleaning, and didn't accept Curie's explanation that her memories and "life recording" are stored in the Thunderhead, while her body would be buried. After Curie gleaned the woman, she admitted she doesn't know where people go when they're dead.
This woman's question shows that even though humans are immortal at this point, they still have the exact same questions about death and the possibility of life after it that people did in the Age of Mortality. In other words, humans aren't as fundamentally different now as Citra and Rowan might think.
Themes
Mortality and Life Theme Icon
One morning, Faraday announces that he'll glean alone. He leads Citra to the weapons den to polish blades. He pulls down a rapier and explains that as a young scythe, he gleaned a fencer. They dueled three times until finally, Faraday won. Faraday says that that man is the only person who ever thanked him. Citra asks why Faraday used her knife when he came to her apartment block. He explains he wanted to test Citra's reaction. She begins to polish, wondering if she's capable of beheading someone.
The experience with the fencer likely impressed upon Faraday the importance of treating each of victims as individuals deserving of attention to detail and compassion. This also illustrates how thankless of a job being a scythe is, since if Faraday is about 180 years old, he's then been gleaning for around 160 years—and has only been thanked once for his work.
Themes
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Morality, Compassion, and Choices Theme Icon
Faraday then tasks Rowan with doing research for his next gleaning. Rowan almost lets the Thunderhead help him, using Faraday's list of parameters, but catches himself—scythes can't ask the Thunderhead for help. He gradually uses Faraday's parameters to narrow down the population of MidMerica to four people, all strong swimmers, dog lovers, and local heroes. Rowan continues to research the four possibilities, hoping something will make a choice obvious, until Faraday returns home. Faraday shouts for Rowan to choose one, and Rowan points to a man with bedhead. Rowan closes his eyes and Faraday praises him. Faraday says this should never be easy.
Not being able to ask the Thunderhead for help reminds the reader—and Rowan—that scythes don't experience surveillance by the Thunderhead like the rest of the population does. Just as Rowan cannot use the Thunderhead to help him, the Thunderhead cannot take any interest in Rowan. This again makes it clear that scythes are a self-policing bunch, which leaves lots of room for abuse and poor choices that could easily go unchecked.
Themes
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Surveillance, Corruption, and Justice Theme Icon
Related Quotes
The next afternoon, Rowan's chosen man returns home to find Faraday in his living room. Rowan closes the front door, locking the panicking man in, and explains that he's been selected for gleaning. Rowan says that he fits a profile: lots of people used to drown in flooded rivers trying to save their pets. Citra emerges from a bedroom, having sedated the man's dogs and suffered a bite, and Rowan kneels in front of the man. He tells him that he's a good person. The man closes his eyes when he learns that Faraday plans to drown him, but refuses Citra's offer of a sedative and follows Faraday to the river.
The way that this man accepts his death, especially when considered next to the way the woman in the parking lot died, impresses upon Citra and Rowan that the experience of facing death is something that, in general, can make people stoic and impress upon them the importance of both living and dying. Accepting death gracefully, these victims' behavior would suggest, is the only way to properly live out one's last moments.
Themes
Mortality and Life Theme Icon
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Citra is impressed by how Rowan behaved, as he did most of the emotional work. She refuses to let Faraday take her to the hospital to have her bite healed, as she feels she owes the man a night of pain. Rowan is modest about his admirable behavior, which makes Citra mad and also attracted to him.
Citra's choice to not have her bite healed quickly shows that she already feels compelled to sacrifice her own comfort in order to make up for the horrific job she's learning to perform—she's becoming more like Faraday by the day.
Themes
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Morality, Compassion, and Choices Theme Icon