Ender's Game: Novel Summary: Chapter 14 - Chapter 15
Summary of Chapter 14: Ender’s Teacher
Admiral Chamrajnagar is unhappy that Graff took so long to get Ender to I. F. Headquarters on Eros. The war is imminent, and Ender is so small. Graff says the boy has greatness in him, and the Admiral hopes he also has killer instinct. The Admiral and Graff will work together on planning Ender’s training with the weapons.
Ender hates Eros, an asteroid with cave-like quarters and downward sloping floors, overcrowded with 10,000 strangers. He is being isolated again though many of his old friends from Battle School are also here being trained. He settles into studies and the simulator, which is like a videogame of a starship fighter. After a year, he is expert at controlling a fighter or a fleet. He becomes tired of working only with the computer for an opponent.
Then he meets an old man who comes to his room. The door is locked so Ender cannot leave. After hours the man suddenly throws and pins him on the ground, then tells him he is stupid because he has never had a proper teacher. The man proclaims he is his enemy and smarter than he is: “There is no teacher but the enemy” (p. 262). He will now program Ender’s battles on the simulator. He introduces himself as Mazer Rackham, the legendary hero of the Second Invasion. Ender never sees anyone now but Mazer, who shows him the full footage of the old battles. They study the bugger tactics.
Mazer has been kept alive so he could teach the next commander. He confirms that nobody knows why he won against the buggers. They just stopped fighting and died. Mazer believes that the buggers are not telepathic in an ordinary sense. They think like a single organism with a group mind. They are like ants or bees with a queen. The Second Invasion was a Formic colony, and Ender finds the queen’s ship on the video, the point from which all movement radiates. When she was killed, the others gave up and died. Their headquarters on Eros are in the vacated colony of the buggers.
Humans learned their own advanced technology from studying the buggers. They know now how to black out the planet Eros from view and manipulate gravity. The Formics did not think of what they did to humans as murder, because only the queen’s death among them counts. Mazer says it is right to kill them in self-defense. They are going to the Formic home planet now to find and kill their queen. They do not need nuclear weapons because they have a terrible weapon called Dr. Device. It destroys by setting up a field in which molecules cannot hold together anymore.
In his computer games, Ender controls an entire fleet. His old friends are now squadron leaders—Alai, Dink, Petra, Carn Carby, Shen, Bean, and others. They learn to work together, not in person, but by voice commands. He learns to move his fleet as fast as a bugger fleet. Mazer says he will try to destroy Ender in order to perfect him. He has trained many others who failed.
Ender has odd dreams about the buggers. He feels they are dissecting his memories, trying to make sense of them. During practice, Ender gives orders to his squadron leaders to attack the buggers with different strategies. He becomes exhausted and lonely. In his dreams sometimes the buggers are part of the Giant computer game. In the dreams, he does not hate them. Practice is so grueling that Petra cracks and makes mistakes. Ender is afraid to sleep; he has nightmares about Bonzo and about killing Valentine. Other squadron leaders collapse, and Ender becomes ill and has to go to bed for three days.
When he recovers it is his last day at Command School, his final exam. There are many observers. He will have to improvise around a planet, they tell him. Ender toys with the idea of flunking so he can go home. The humans are outnumbered, and Ender suddenly does not know what to do. Just then, Bean makes a joke that makes them all laugh. Ender sends the fleet in among the enemy ships to drop Dr. Device on the planet itself. It explodes. Everyone cheers, including the men watching. Graff has tears running down his face and thanks Ender. Mazer congratulates him for making the hard choice. They explain that Ender has been fighting real wars, not on a simulator, and has defeated the buggers. The Third Invasion has been won. All the queens were destroyed at once.
Ender is a hero on Earth, but he is racked with guilt that he wiped out an entire race. He weeps out of control. Graff explains they had to trick him because they needed a commander with empathy for the buggers. Ender turns his back, and they are afraid he is permanently damaged.
While Ender recovers on Eros, a civil war on Earth is waged with the Russians. The I. F. wins. His friends come to Ender’s bedside so he can see them in person. They wonder if are allowed to be kids now.
Commentary on Chapter 14: Ender’s Teacher
Mazer Rackham helps Ender understand the buggers with missing information he could not get on his own. He learns that the buggers or Formics had superior technology, copied by the humans, but that the secret weapon of humans is their individual creativity. The buggers only have group intelligence, and though they have superior numbers, it is the queen’s intelligence that counts. If she is killed, the rest are helpless. They are only her arms and legs. Ender’s task as a leader, on the other hand, is to make each squadron leader independently creative while at the same time part of a team.
Just as Bean is a younger version of Ender, Mazer is an older version. He explains that he sacrificed his whole life for the sake of Earth and humanity. He was forced to leave his family and live in exile. His sacrifice is justified only by Ender’s success, but he himself has learned to live without happiness. The noblest characters in the story are the selfless ones: Ender, Bean, Dink, Mazer, Alai, and Petra. Even Graff seems worthy when he hovers over the sick boy and admits he loves Ender.
Dr. Device is a weapon like the Death Star in the Star Wars series. Mazer tells Ender the weapon is morally defensible in a pre-emptive attack for self-defense. Ender, who has never wanted to kill, becomes a mass murderer, a tool for the I. F. Graff explains why Ender was chosen: for his compassion and innocence. Only someone empathic enough with the enemy could destroy them; only someone innocent, thinking he was playing a computer game, could blithely destroy a planet and a race. Ender is bitter at this revelation and does not enjoy his heroism. It is suggested he been permanently damaged, like Frodo in Lord of the Rings, after his quest.
Summary of Chapter 15: Speaker for the Dead
Anderson and Graff converse while on leave at the lake in North Carolina. Graff was court-martialled for contributing to the deaths of Bonzo and Stilson, but he was acquitted as he knew he would be. The videos show Ender was not at fault. Anderson will become a Commissioner of Football Leagues. Ender will not be allowed to come home from Eros because he could be controlled by some faction on Earth. Graff will be the Minister of Colonization of the conquered bugger worlds.
On Eros, Ender does not understand why his action against the Formic planet is not called a crime. Instead, he is a hero. His friends leave Eros to go home. He is lonely until Valentine comes. She is going with the colonists and wants Ender to come with her. If Ender goes back to Earth Peter will use him to become Hegemon. Graff has already announced Mazer Rackham as the pilot of the colony ship and Ender as the governor of the new colony. Valentine will become a writer of political philosophy. Ender agrees to go for the sake of the buggers. He stole their life; perhaps he can see a way to learn about them and repay them.
By the end of the long voyage, Ender has written a history of the Formic wars and transmitted it by ansible to Earth. He is loved and respected as the governor of the colony: he “governed by persuasion rather than fiat” (p. 314). The colony is called Ender’s World. Valentine writes Ender’s biography, and Peter Wiggin becomes the Hegemon of Earth.
A new colony ship is due to arrive on Ender’s World, and Ender goes to find a suitable place for their settlement. He takes an eleven-year-old boy named Abra with him. They camp in a place that Ender recognizes as the landscape in the Giant’s game. Ender tells Abra the buggers built the place for him. He wonders if it is a message. He knows they took the images from his mind. There is a castle with a mirror on the wall. Behind the mirror is hidden the pupa of a Formic queen ready to hatch thousands of babies. He suddenly sees the wars through the queen’s eyes and her sadness that humans could not forgive them.
He asks the queen how he can help the buggers and gets an image of putting the cocoon in a cool place to hatch the babies. Ender vows to find a place for them and to tell their story. He writes a story about the buggers from the queen’s point of view explaining their history, what they have learned from humans, and their forgiveness for human revenge. He calls himself a Speaker for the Dead, and it becomes a new religion on earth, in which upon death, a Speaker tells the truth of someone’s life.
On Earth, the now old Hegemon, Peter Wiggin, wants Ender to be a Speaker for him when he dies. He tells Ender his story through the ansible, and Ender writes his story. Ender’s two books become holy writ. Valentine and Ender move on through the galaxy, and Ender is always a speaker for the dead, while Valentine is historian of the living.
Commentary on Chapter 15: Speaker for the Dead
Ender is a hero for saving Earth, though he spends his life in repentance for being a killer. He was deliberately made into a tool for the military, and Graff is excused for his methods, because everyone believes Ender was the only hope for the human race.
Ironically, it is pointed out by Valentine that the violent Peter saved millions of lives on Earth by anticipating and putting an end to civil war there. Even if he is a despot, he is an enlightened one, using the methods of the character Demosthenes to move mass opinion and the character Locke to appeal to intellectuals. On the other hand, Ender killed a whole race and other humans to save the Earth from aliens, though he is a loving and empathetic person. He is a just ruler in the colonies, establishing a self-sustaining government. Nevertheless, his most important work is as a Speaker for the Dead, champion for the enemy culture and eventually restoring the life of the bugger species.
The queen bugger works through Ender’s empathy to preserve her race, getting images from his mind to build the set from the Giant’s game, which hides the new queen and her babies. It is the only way the buggers know how to communicate. The computer game kept trying to show Ender he was the killer Peter in the mirror, but the queen sees something else in Ender and relies on him for survival. By trying to understand the bugger history, Ender is exploring an alternative to the ruthless scenario he was put through by the military to secure peace on earth. Ender finds a bigger truth with love and co-existence as the answer to conflict, rather than genocide.
None of the characters is all good or all bad. In the last chapter Card tries to make a statement about human nature, with its mixed qualities of good and evil. Valentine justifies colonizing the bugger worlds by saying there will be cities full of people “who live private, individual lives, who love and hate,” while in the bugger civilization there was only “a single story to be told” (p. 312). Human life is more creative, abundant, and diversified and therefore more worthy, she says, even if it is sometimes cruel.
Ender does not think there should only be one winner. He does not like the motives of others or being used by them, but Valentine simply says, “Welcome to the human race. Nobody controls his own life” (p. 313). Valentine is not an idealist; she is a pragmatist. The Earth sends out space ships like the Pilgrims sent ships to America to carve out new territory for themselves. The new colony has “crimes and quarrels, alongside kindness and cooperation . . . it was a human world” (p. 315). But Ender starts a new religion in which forgiveness, love, and understanding replace ambition and selfishness. Card infuses his Mormon Christian values into the story through the character of Ender.