Chapter 15: Speaker for the Dead
The final chapter of the book begins with Graff and Anderson, speaking much more casually than they have in the past. Graff has survived his court martial trial, where the prosecution attempted to prove that Ender was a killer. Ender watched, and learned that he killed both Stilson and Bonzo. What he cannot understand is why the deaths of the bugger queens do not matter to anyone. To him they are crimes just like Stilson and Bonzo's deaths. On Eros Ender does his best to help out, although ironically no one thinks he can be of much use in peacetime. He learns to suggest ideas through others, since he does not care about reputation but merely getting things done. Valentine comes to him and tells him that Peter is in control of the earth and that he can never go home. Ender realizes that Peter would use Ender if Ender ever returned to earth. She is going on the first colonization ship to the bugger worlds and wants Ender to come along—he is to be governor of the first colony if he agrees. Ender does not want to populate worlds whose owners he killed. Valentine sees that he thinks she is trying to manipulate him and tells him that no one has a free life to live, so the least he can do is choose a path put forth by one who loves him. Ender decides to go, but tells her that the reason is to try to repay the buggers by learning about their past.
The colony travels to the new world and settles down. The people begin to live new lives there, and they are not concerned with what is happening back on Earth. New ships will be coming with other colonists and Ender goes off to find a place for the new colony to settle in. It is then that he stumbles upon landscape that is all too familiar—the giant's corpse and all of his images from the mind game. He follows them to the tower and climbs up to the room with the mirror. Ender realizes that the buggers must have built all of this for him in order to leave him some sort of message. Behind the mirror Ender finds the pupa of a bugger queen, and the queen communicates with him. She shows him the images of the battles, from the buggers' point of view, and then sends images to his mind of what he needs to do to let her live again and start a new bugger civilization. Ender figures out that they learned his thoughts through the ansible—it was, after all, a human attempt at mimicking bugger communication—and built this place because he was the only one they knew and the only one who could understand. She tells him that the buggers did not know that humans were thinking beings. When the buggers figured out that human beings were capable of thought, they did not attack again.
Ender writes a book based upon the knowledge he gathers from the queen, telling the entire bugger history, especially their sorrow that the two races could not understand each other, and signs it SPEAKER FOR THE DEAD. The readers of the book form something of a religion on earth, but on the colonies, where people live in worlds that the buggers lived in, the teachings of the book become a veritable religion. Ender speaks to Peter once (who is now in his seventies because the relativistic ride that took two years for the colonists was fifty earth years), and his brother tells him his story. Ender writes this up in a book as well, signs it with the same title, and the two books are the basis of the religion. Finally Ender convinces Valentine to fly with him to different worlds. He is looking for a place to start a new bugger civilization, and his search lasts many years.
Valentine provides Ender with the final word on manipulation. People are always manipulated, all that they can choose is whose path they will follow. Ender will never be able to live his own life; in fact, there is no such thing as living one's own life without others' influence. Ender leaves with Valentine because at least once he gets to the bugger world he will be on his own. Peter will not be able to control him there, and he can attempt to understand better the race that he destroyed. When he finds the bugger queen Ender understands that the buggers know him very well, and that they understood that he did not hate. They knew that his compassion would be strong enough for him to help them. Even the buggers manipulate Ender, since they get him to dedicate his life to finding them a new home. The difference is that Ender has taken Valentine's advice and has chosen to follow the path that he wants to be on anyway. In this way Ender is able to finally win back his freedom, because, although he is on a mission that another race left for him, it is the mission that he wants to be on. The buggers understood Ender better than anyone else, because they saw his thoughts, and so they know not only that will he help them but that he wants to help them.
In the end it is Ender's empathy that wins out. He is perhaps the only human being who would be willing to listen to what the bugger queen has to say, and empathy is the same trait that allows him to destroy the buggers. Ender was right when he told his sister that after he understands his enemy, and before he destroys them, he loves them. Now there is no war to be fought, and he does not have to destroy someone else's enemy. Ender is free to understand and to love, and that is why he agrees to help the buggers find a new home. He has to make up for the crimes that he committed. Graff and Rackham thought that they were doing what needed to be done, and that the necessities of war meant they had no choice but to trick Ender into fighting, but Ender now knows that they were wrong. All of mankind was wrong. The buggers did not want to fight and would have been willing to communicate. They do not blame humans for killing them, but Ender blames himself because he always knew in his heart that there had to be a way other than war with other sentient beings. All of the manipulation that Ender had to endure was to win a war that never needed to have been fought, and this deeply troubled Ender's soul. Now, with the bugger queen, he has a chance to undo his wrongs and bring back the consciousness that he wiped out, and there is no one else to tell him what to do. Ender is finally free, and with his freedom he must make up for all that he did while under someone else's control. Valentine was right when she told him that his life would never be his own, but it is only when acting fully of our own volition, even if on a path prescribed by another, that we are truly free. It took years and billions of deaths, but Ender Wiggin has won his freedom, and he has still retained the compassion that will let him use that freedom to help make up for the crimes of his past.
by ICanReadMusicToo, June 03, 2013
I think the foil of the brothers' motivations can be simplified like this:
Ender is always doing the wrong thing for the right reasons:
Ender always wants to do no harm, but is often forced to harm/destroy by situations beyond his control. He does his best to do things in the most moral way, and for only the most moral purposes, but that's not always as possible as he would like.
Peter does the right thing for the wrong reasons:
Peter simply wants to do whatever is the easiest/most beneficial for himself, and is in... Read more→
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