Ender's Game

by: Orson Scott Card

Colonel Graff

“Sometimes I think you enjoy breaking these little geniuses.” “There is an art to it, and I’m very, very good at it. But enjoy? Well, maybe. When they put back the pieces afterward, and it makes them better.”

As Graff discusses his plan to isolate Ender from the other boys on the way to Battle School, someone suggests that Graff enjoys breaking the children’s spirits. Graff counters that he enjoys the end result, when the children become good soldiers. Although Graff does at times seem to take pleasure in torturing Ender and the others, his pleasure stems more from thinking of how they will one day destroy the buggers.

“He’s clean. Right to the heart, he’s good.” “I’ve read the reports.” “Anderson, think what we’re going to do to him.”

After Graff and the children arrive at Battle School, Graff tells Anderson how good Ender truly is now that they have met. Although Graff appears hard on Ender throughout the novel, he genuinely admires Ender, and his words to Anderson here seem to reveal that he feels sorry for taking Ender’s childhood away from him. Readers note, however, that any guilt Graff feels doesn’t force him to abandon his plan to destroy the buggers.

Well, that does make me feel a little better. I thought I was the only one.

After Ender sees Peter’s face in the computer game, Graff asks Major Imbu how such an event could have happened. Major Imbu suggests that the computer game could be making the game up as Ender plays along. Here, Graff comments that the computer’s strategy may be similar to his own, a fact that appears to bring him some sort of comfort. Although Graff appears to be in complete control most of the time, he acknowledges that he doesn’t necessarily know how the situation with Ender will turn out.

“I may have used Valentine,” said Graff, “and you may hate me for it, Ender, but keep this in mind—it only works because what’s between you, that’s real, that’s what matters. Billions of those connections between human beings. That’s what you’re fighting to keep alive.”

After Valentine visits Ender at the lake, Graff admits to Ender that he brought Valentine there in order to manipulate Ender into going to Command School. He wanted Ender to remember the love he shares with Valentine, and to remember the billions of similar relationships on the planet that would be destroyed if Ender doesn’t fight the buggers. Although Graff seems singularly focused on making good soldiers, he also feels compassionate to Ender and others and works to ensure the survival of the human race.

…Graff reached out and touched his hand across the aisle. Ender stiffened in surprise, and Graff soon withdrew, but for a moment Ender was struck with the startling thought that perhaps Graff felt some affection for him. But no, it was just another calculated gesture.

The narrator describes how Ender reacts when, while heading to Command School, Graff touches Ender’s hand to comfort him. Ender quickly dismisses the gesture as part of Graff’s manipulation, but he remains unaware of how deeply Graff truly admires and loves him. Graff feels grateful to Ender for giving up his youth to train as a soldier, and he feels a father-like love towards Ender in that he wants to protect him.