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Ender's Game | Study Guide

Orson Scott Card

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Ender's Game | Chapter 13 : Valentine | Summary



Two unidentified voices discuss the true identities of Locke and Demosthenes, relatives of "the (sic) Wiggin." One doubts children could manage such a complex scheme. The other says Colonel Graff believes "nothing these children have done is out of their reach" because their abilities are almost identical to Ender's. The two agree to keep the identities secret for the moment.

Valentine enjoys Demosthenes now although she still winces when Mr. Wiggin quotes Demosthenes at the dinner table. Peter gets angry when Demosthenes gets recognition, however, and refuses to help her write her column. But she can write Demosthenes without his help now. Important and influential people write to both Demosthenes and Locke, and she and Peter put together information which proves the world is in a very dangerous state. When Colonel Graff comes to see her again, Valentine thinks he will ask about Demosthenes, but instead he takes her to see Ender. Ender is at a lakeside house, reluctant to take the next step in his training. Graff asks for Valentine's help and says he knows about Demosthenes. With her newfound knowledge of how fragile world peace is, Valentine agrees to persuade Ender.

Valentine and Ender are both a little uneasy at first. She tries to tickle him, but he grabs her arm in a strong grip and is slow to relax his hand. Later Ender kills a wasp which Valentine was planning to let go. She tells him about Locke and Demosthenes. They talk about how Peter wanted to be Alexander the Great. With Peter's writing and Ender's fighting, Valentine says he and Ender could be "two faces of the same coin." After hearing about the state of the world, Ender agrees even Peter might be an acceptable leader in such circumstances. He complains about feeling manipulated. Valentine argues, "We play by their rules long enough, and it becomes our game." She reminds Ender he might save her life by fighting. Ender worries he cannot defeat the buggers if he doesn't understand them. He describes studying an enemy until he understands and even loves that enemy, but "in that very moment when I love them ... I destroy them." Ender just wanted Peter to love him. Valentine tells Ender she loves him, then leaves, angry at herself for having done what Graff wanted. Ender finds Graff waiting for him inside. As they prepare to leave, Graff says they gave Ender time to remember why Earth is worth saving.

Graff and Ender talk a lot on the long trip to Command School. Graff explains the buggers have some things in common with humans, but they have much better technology. They communicate faster than the speed of light. Through their communication, the buggers knew instantly of their defeat 70 years ago, and they have not attacked again. Instead, the IF has adapted bugger technology—even creating instantaneous communication technology called the "ansible"—and is on its way to attack the bugger home world. Ender wonders if the buggers might never attack again, but Graff says they can't take the risk. Ender asks why Graff thinks they are fighting the buggers. Graff says it may be because buggers and humans cannot talk to each other. He thinks fighting them is what humanity must do to survive. Ender responds, "I'm in favor of surviving," and Graff says, "That's why you're here."


Peter's plan has succeeded. Locke and Demosthenes are so influential the government investigated them. Valentine didn't expect to grow comfortable as Demosthenes, but she has, but she still sees a difference between herself and what she writes. Graff persuades her to talk to Ender by speaking to both Valentine and Demosthenes. Valentine now knows the world is in danger, so she is more willing to persuade Ender to keep fighting.

Although the book is primarily told in close third-person perspective, focusing on Ender, the scene with Valentine is told through her eyes. Card does not provide Ender's internal monologue and the reader, like Valentine, may wonder what he is thinking. He appears perversely proud of his soldiering skills, and in some ways she finds him unrecognizable. But in other ways he is still her baby brother, scared of Peter. Valentine calls them "two faces of the same coin," touching again on the theme of duality: Ender is the military genius and Peter, unexpectedly, is the peaceful scholar. Although Valentine cannot know it, her comments closely parallel Ender's concern that he is just like Peter. He probably feels like crying when she draws the comparison, which implies he is not only like Peter but much deadlier.

To Valentine and only to Valentine, Ender confesses his biggest fear: He will not be able to defeat the buggers because he never defeated Peter. Readers may remember a bogeyman from their childhood—some person or character who frightened them in their childhood nightmares. Peter is Ender's bogeyman, another reminder of how young Ender really is. The buggers are a bogeyman for the entire world. Ender is being asked to learn how to think like and even love the whole world's greatest enemy. No wonder Ender is afraid.

On the long flight to Command School, Ender learns important details about the buggers and how they communicate. Their communication is difficult for humans to understand, which means humans and buggers cannot communicate directly. Ender simplifies Graff's lengthy lecture into a single statement: "The whole war is because we can't talk to each other." In fact, many real wars occur when communication fails. Ender's apparent oversimplification is true. At the time Card was writing, the United States was still in the midst of the Cold War with the Soviet Union. The Cold War began in the late 1940s. Both nations had nuclear weapons and the possibility of World War III seemed imminent. By 1977, however, nuclear war had been averted on more than one occasion because the leaders of the two countries talked before firing off missiles. Although the buggers have not attacked Earth for over 70 years, humans are not waiting to talk. They are attacking. Had the United States done that to the Soviet Union, a nuclear war would certainly have taken place. Still, Graff has his argument: If you can't talk to the other side, you can never be sure whether or not they want to kill you. Ender has learned from experience that the power to kill is what keeps you safe. He does not question Graff's argument.

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