60 pages 2 hours read

Neal Shusterman


Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 2018

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Symbols & Motifs

Scythe Robes

Scythes are easily identified by their colorful robes. The robes may come in any color except for black because black robes have too strong of a connection to the image of the grim reaper and the visual representation of death. Scythes do not want to be seen as mere harbingers of death without human compassion but as honorable servants to the world in the fight for population control. Scythe robes represent the promise to carry this burden with honor, but in Thunderhead Shusterman explores the ways in which this symbol can be twisted to represent rebellion, greed, and bloodlust.

When Citra becomes a scythe, she feels “awkward and strange” (43) having to wear the long robe, and she often trips over it. However, as time goes on, she starts to feel exposed and vulnerable without her robe. The robe becomes a representation of Citra’s gradual evolution into Scythe Anastasia, and as Scythe Curie tells her, “[they] are scythes every moment of [their] lives,” and by wearing the robes every day, they never forget the role they play in society, “no matter how much [they] might want to” (42). Regular scythe robes represent nobility, enlightenment, and solemnity. However, the black robe Rowan wears as Scythe Lucifer represents murder, rebellion, and perceived evil.