Ender's Game | Study Guide

Orson Scott Card

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Ender's Game | Chapter 15 : Speaker for the Dead | Summary



One year later Colonel Graff is put on trial for what he did to Ender. He talks with Anderson after being acquitted. Graff says Demosthenes arranged it so Ender will never come back to Earth. Anderson asks who Locke and Demosthenes are, but Graff won't say.

Ender, who is now 12, knows he will never go back to Earth. Watching Graff's trial, he learned of Stilson and Bonzo's deaths. Ender is "amused" by how seriously people take those two deaths: "In battle I killed ten billion buggers ... no one thinks to call it a crime." He tries to help with peace planning, but no one really listens to him. He can sometimes get his ideas listened to if adults suggest them. Otherwise he spends time hiding from colonists, embarrassed by their flattery.

One day Valentine arrives. She asks Ender to join her on a new colony. Peter wanted Ender back on Earth. Valentine admits Peter was responsible for the treaty that ended Earth's war but fears he would have used Ender to take over the world. Valentine made it impossible for Ender to go home. Instead, she arranges for Ender to be governor of the first colony, with Demosthenes living in the colony anonymously.

Ender is a good governor, and the colony thrives. He cedes most of his control to an elected council. One day as he explores a new region and recognizes it from the Giant's Drink game. He discovers the castle room where his character used to die and finds a queen bugger pupa ready to hatch. He sees the queen's thoughts. He realizes they found him through the ansible, which explains the strange dreams he used to have. They understood Ender didn't want to kill them. Now the queen asks Ender's help to find a place to hatch. Ender hesitates but agrees to search for a suitable place someday.

Ender writes a book about what he learned from the buggers. It is called Speaker for the Dead and inspires a new religion. Although it was published anonymously, Peter knows who wrote it. Peter, now old and dying, asks to talk to Ender. After Peter's death, Ender publishes a book "speaking" for Peter. Then he asks Valentine to travel with him. They explore the galaxy as Andrew Wiggin, "itinerant speaker for the dead," and Valentine Wiggin, historian. Everywhere they travel Ender carries the queen's cocoon, looking for a place where she could live.


Graff and Mazer tried to tell Ender not to blame himself for what happened. Still, Ender holds himself fully responsible for what he sees as mass murder. Everyone else celebrates it as a great military victory. He is no longer shocked by Stilson's or Bonzo's death, and he wonders how humanity can weigh two deaths more heavily than millions. In war, of course, the enemy side is often dehumanized. For example, American students are rarely asked to learn how many Germans died in World War II although American planes bombed the civilian population of Germany countless times. To people in the book, the buggers are even more foreign and less sympathetic. The entire population of buggers seems frightening and militaristic, but when Ender explores their colony, he finds evidence of farming and caring for young. There were civilian buggers, not just military ones. He destroyed them all.

With the war over, Ender needs a new purpose. He wants to help shape the peace, but for the first time in many years, he is treated like a child. No one listens to his ideas and he must prove himself to earn people's respect as a governor. Ender's compassionate heart makes him an excellent governor. Peter would want to rule. Ender works to reach consensus. He even gives up power to an elected council—something Peter would never do.

In an earlier chapter, Graff joked he wasn't sure humanity should win the war. No sooner is the bugger war over than a war breaks out on Earth—a war settled by Locke's intervention with Demosthenes's support. Humanity in the book is no different than in real life. On the other hand, humans look downright primitive compared to the buggers as Ender comes to know them.

Although they look like Earth bugs, the buggers have an extraordinary morality. The queen tells Ender, "We did not mean to murder, and when we understood, we never came again." They recognized humans are thinking creatures and retreated. They understand why the humans attacked them, and they accept it as a consequence of their attack on Earth. The hive queen invites humanity to take over the bugger worlds, calling humans "adopted daughters" since power in the bugger world passes through the female. This portion of Ender's Game has an almost Christian mythology. The buggers accept death and forgive those who cause it just as Jesus forgave those who persecuted him. Although Card acknowledges these interpretations, he never states which he prefers. The buggers' words to Ender actually do inspire a new religion. In fact, Card wrote a sequel to Ender's Game entitled Speaker for the Dead, which explores issues of religion and belief that arise when an older Ender becomes involved with the discovery of an entirely new alien species.

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