Ender's Game

Summary and Analysis of Chapter 15

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Chapter 15

The chapter opens with a conversation between Graff and Anderson, but the typeface is part of the "open" rather than "secret" text. They discuss what they are going to do now that the wars are over; Anderson has been offered a job as Commissioner of a football league, and Graff is the new Minister of Colonization for the Hegemony. They also talk about Demosthenes and Locke. Demosthenes has taken himself off the nets. Demosthenes explained to Locke that Ender could not realistically be brought back to Earth, while in public, Locke was the one saying that Ender should remain on Eros while Demosthenes was clamoring for Ender's return. Anderson realizes that Graff knows who both of them are, but Graff refuses to tell him. Finally, Graff says that the Ministry of Colonization is really going to move forward, so the population laws are going to be repealed and the Thirds, Fourths, Fifths, and so on will travel to new colonies on other worlds.

A year after the bugger war ended, Ender is still required to stay on Eros. He was awarded the rank of Admiral, so he had free reign to watch the videos of his fights with Stilson and Bonzo as well as their corpses, which were displayed at Colonel Graff's court-martial. Ender finds it amusing that he killed 10 billion buggers, with queens that were as sentient and intelligent as human beings, but that this was not considered a crime. Therefore, while all of his crimes weighed on him, Stilson and Bonzo's murders were "no heavier and no lighter" than the rest.

Ender's friends slowly leave him for Earth, and they praise him constantly in public. Ender remains to help prepare for the colonization initiative. He hated seeing actual colonists, who "would scream and shout and embrace him and congratulate him and show him the children they had named after him and tell him how he was so young it broke their hearts and they didn't blame him for any of his murders because it wasn't his fault he was just a child."

One day, Valentine is one of the colonists, and she says that she wants him to go with her. She notes that she is the one who kept him from being allowed back home, explaining that Peter would have used him to put Ender and ultimately the Earth under Peter's control (Peter revealing himself to the world as Ender's brother and as Locke). Valentine convinces Ender to travel with her, and Graff is to announce that Demosthenes believes so strongly in the colonization effort that he is going to be on the first colony ship, which will be piloted by Mazer Rackham and governed by Ender Wiggin. Ender says that he is going not because of her or Peter but because he "knows the buggers better than any other living soul," and perhaps if he sees their worlds he will better understand them.

During the long voyage, Valentine writes a volume on the bugger wars. Meanwhile Ender has won the love and respect of his colonists. Once they arrive, he quickly learns how to govern by persuasion instead of force, and he works as hard as anyone else in the colony. Ender's main concern is to explore everything the buggers left behind, in order to help the new colony succeed.

Years pass, and Ender becomes a judge in the colony's administration. The colonists become less concerned with Earth and more concerned with their own, inevitably human lives. "Demosthenes" prepares to send a seventh volume on the bugger wars back to Earth. The final, eighth volume is to be Ender's story.

When the next colonists are about a year away, Ender starts to explore nearby for a suitable second colony. On the third day of his search, Ender starts to feel like he has been in that spot before. His young companion Abra shouts to him that a certain hill looks "like a giant died here, and the Earth grew up to cover his carcass"--just like the Giant's corpse in the fantasy game. But the "skull" is made of concrete; the buggers must have seen into the game and built it. They also built the playground and the castle with its tower. Ender climbs the tower walls to reach the room, and he is amazed at the completeness of the imitation of the fantasy game.

Behind the mirror Ender finds a "white ball of silk with a few frayed strands sticking out here and there ... the pupa of a queen bugger, already fertilized by the larval males, ready, out of her own body, to hatch a hundred thousand buggers." Ender can see a clear vision of the buggers' hatching of this queen, her fertilization, and the blessing by the queen mother, to "become herself, to become a new city, a new world, to give birth to many queens and many worlds." He does not understand how he can perceive these bugger memories. He then sees his first battle with the buggers from the bugger queen's point of view, and he feels her sadness, her sense of resignation, as she watches her ships be destroyed. "'The humans did not forgive us,' she thought. 'We will surely die.'"

Ender asks the larval queen how the buggers could live again, and in response she sends him images of him putting the cocoon in a cool, dark place, with water, then later opening the cocoon and helping the small queen come out. Ender tells the queen that he cannot do so, because "your children are the monsters of our nightmares now. If I awoke you, we would only kill you again." Then, the queen sends an image of buggers killing humans and the grief that she feels over it, and this feeling is so powerful that Ender weeps. Ender tells her that if she could only make everyone else feel that way, then they could forgive the buggers, but he then realizes that they can only affect him that way. The queen thinks to him, "We are like you ... We did not mean to murder, and when we understood, we never came again. We could live with you in peace. Believe us."

Ender decides to take the cocoon and "go from world to world" until he finds a time and place for her to awake in safety. He also decides to tell the buggers' story to the humans, so that they can forgive the buggers. Within a few weeks, basically channeling the queen's thoughts, he writes their history and notes that they forgave the humans for killing them. The hive-queen says that the two species are "tragic sisters" who killed one another, even though the queen would now welcome humans "as guestfriends." Ender signs the book as "Speaker for the Dead."

The book is published and passed from hand to hand quietly until almost everyone on Earth has read it, though no one knows the author. People begin to live by its principles, and people begin to have a Speaker for the Dead talk at their loved ones' funerals, to "say what the dead would have said, but with full candor, hiding no faults and pretending no virtues." It becomes one of Earth's religions. Peter realizes who the author is and asks Valentine to see if Ender will "speak for me." Ender and Peter (who is now Hegemon) talk about Peter's life. After Peter dies, Ender writes his second volume, again naming the author as "Speaker for the Dead." Ender's books become known as the Hive-Queen and the Hegemon.

One day, Ender tells Valentine that he wants to fly away, because he is almost happy where they are, and he has "lived too long with pain. I won't know who I am without it." They go from world to world, and "wherever they stopped, he was always Andrew Wiggin, itinerant speaker for the dead, and she was always Valentine, historian errant, writing down the stories of the living while Ender spoke the stories of the dead." Ender takes the queen cocoon with him everywhere, looking for the world where he can awaken the hive-queen and she can "thrive in peace." The novel ends: "He looked a long time."

Analysis

In this coda, Valentine tells Ender that no human controls his own life, so "the best you can do is choose to fill the roles given to you by good people, by people who love you." It is interesting that she admits to trying to control him, instead of denying it. She must realize that Ender is used to being controlled, and he expects that people will try to use him; even if she did deny it, he probably would not believe her, and it would just estrange her from him further. She also tells him that she has spent her whole life with the brother whom she hated, Peter, and now she wants the chance to get to know the brother she loves, Ender. She wants a chance to be children again with him. Through Valentine, Ender has just about his only chance to regain some of the happiness, meager as it may have been, of his childhood. Valentine represents a time before the school, when she protected him from Peter. But Ender wore his monitor, it seems, from birth. He always has been under the watch of someone, and in this final chapter, he remains under the watch of Valentine.

Nevertheless, Ender continues to strive for independence. He tells his sister that he wants to make sure she knows that he is not going to join the colonists because of her, and not in order to be governor. Neither, however, is he going simply out of choice or because he is bored on Eros. Instead he goes because he retains a sense of mission, this time out of guilt: he "stole [the buggers'] future from them [and thus] can only begin to repay by seeing what [he] can learn from their past."

Ender fulfills his desire by learning about the buggers through direct mental correspondence with the nascent queen. His service to the buggers continues in his writing the book about the Hive-Queen, since he communicates the past of the buggers to the human race. This is Ender's way of making up for his destruction of the buggers; he realizes that he can never truly repay them for what he did, but he can at least try to make the buggers seem worthy enough of sympathy so that if they return, they can live peacefully with humans. Moreover, Ender takes it upon himself to ensure that the queen survives.

The fascinating thing about these choices is that the buggers seem to have put all their hope in him. If this queen truly is the very last one, and seeing that they built an elaborate scene from the fantasy game for him to find, they have put an incredible amount of trust in Ender's goodwill. And as the queen grows up, she will be extremely defenseless, without technology, and someone will have to make sure that she survives long enough to perpetuate the species. It is almost impossible to think that anyone but Ender could take on such a huge responsibility, now that he has saved the humans from the buggers, to save the buggers from the humans.

Valentine's last volume of the bugger wars is to be on the story of Ender Wiggin. Her idea is to bring it up to the present day and then stop, though Ender prefers that she stop it on the day they won the final battle. They never again mention Valentine's final volume--except to say that she finished it. These circumstances suggest that this novel, Ender's Game, is itself meant to be Valentine's (Demosthenes') final volume of the bugger war. If not, then who else could know enough about Ender to be the author of this novel--the new bugger queen? Who will be Ender's "Speaker" when he is dead?

When Ender finds the queen's cocoon, he sees a flash of memories and hears thoughts in his mind as the buggers communicated. The bugger-queen "tells" him that they did not mean to murder the humans, and when they understood what they had done, they never returned. She insists that they could live with the humans in peace. This thought-speech between Ender and the bugger queen supports what Ender repeatedly asked Graff and Mazer during his training: if the buggers never knew that that they were killing sentient beings, and they have not returned, why should the humans attack them? While Graff's and Mazer's point of view--that the buggers had attacked them twice and thus would probably return--is valid on the basis of experience, Ender seems to understand the buggers better than anyone else. Ender's experience of learning the bugger memories proves to him that the buggers should not have been punished for doing something they did not understand. Even so, killing humans as they did was murder, intentional or not.

Mazer tells Ender that his reputation will not be destroyed until the historians attack him in thirty years or so, suggesting that such revisionist historians tend to be iconoclasts, casting unwarranted doubt on the character of true heroes. Interestingly, the sequels to the novel show what one might guess on the basis of the end of the novel. Ender's reputation is ruined during his lifetime because of the sympathy he engendered for the buggers through his book. The book of the Speaker for the Dead causes the humans to forgive the buggers and to understand them, and thus they begin to hate Ender for what he did, considering his action a massive genocide. (The negative repercussions of killing the civilian population on the bugger home world hit, first of all, Ender himself.) Yet, the final line suggests that this reversal of human opinion will take "a long time."