Ender's Game

by: Orson Scott Card

Chapter 3: Graff


The conversation that starts this chapter focuses on the other Wiggin child, Valentine. The adults need Ender to go with them somewhere, and they are afraid that his love for her will stop him from leaving. In the course of their brief conversation it becomes clear that one of them is going to get Ender and that it is imperative that he succeed.

We reenter Ender's life at the breakfast table, where Ender is too preoccupied with his thoughts to eat. A man wearing the uniform of the International Fleet (I.F.) comes to the door and interrupts breakfast. After Ender's parents talk to the man for a moment they call Ender into the parlor. Peter is upset because he still hopes to be chosen, but the other two both know it must be about Ender.

The officer asks Ender about the fight with Stilson, and Ender explains that he did not enjoy hurting Stilson but merely wanted to make sure that he would not be hurt in the future. As he is explaining, he starts to cry and becomes embarrassed. After hearing Ender's explanation the officer stands up, introduces himself as Colonel Graff, director of the Battle School in the Belt, and offers Ender a chance to enter the school. Ender is surprised, because they have already taken away his monitor, but Graff explains that that was his final test and that he has passed. Ender passes because Colonel Graff is satisfied by the reasons Ender gave for what he did to Stilson. Graff says that he needed to make sure that he knew what Ender motivation was, and he almost slips and says he needed to see that Ender was not like his brother. While Graff talks it becomes clear that Ender, as a third child, was only allowed to be born because of I.F. consent, and that he is essentially I.F. property.

Graff wants Ender to choose to come to school because he will not do well if he does not go willingly. He makes Ender's parents leave the room and tries to convince Ender to leave, by telling him how tough it will be. Graff tells him that he will not be able to see his sister for years. Ender asks about his parents and Graff explains that, although they love him, they will not miss him because of how difficult he has been for them. His father was one of nine children, and he did not want any child of his to deal with the persecution he had to face. It comes out that there are sanctions against having more than two children that have become stronger over the years. Ender's father was born Catholic, and his mother a Mormon, and although they publicly gave up their religion, they still have religious feelings. Thus Ender torments them because he represents all of the other extra children they wish they could have and he also thwarts their attempts to be like the rest of society.

Graff tells him that Battle School is difficult, but also traces it as his destiny. Peter was good, but they would not take him because of his cruelty. Next the I.F. asked for a girl, hoping Valentine would be less harsh, but she was too gentle, and so they asked for a Third. Ender was to be half Peter and half Valentine. Graff tells Ender that he is desperately needed, and that mankind would have been destroyed last time, except for Mazer Rackham, the brilliant commander who saved them all. Graff appeals to Ender on behalf of mankind, and Ender agrees to go, mostly because he has nothing to lose. The last thing he hears is Valentine imploring him to return to her.


The conversation with Ender shows that the I.F. officers are desperate, and instills the narrative with a sense of urgency.. They need Ender and they will get him any way they can. They one thing they have going for them, however, is that things are not so good in Ender's life anyway. Ender is actually not hungry during breakfast because he is too busy thinking. He is thinking about school, about facing Stilson's friends, and these thoughts are connected to what he tells Graff when he asks about the fight. Ender only wanted to ensure his own safety, and he feels terrible that this desire caused him to do something bad. Graff only needed to make sure that Ender feels remorse and then he is willing to accept him. It is that remorse that separates Ender from Peter in the eyes of the I.F.. They think that Ender is just as capable of action as Peter but that he also has feelings about his actions. Graff does not tell Ender that he is needed to save the world. He stresses the importance of going to battle school to help save the world from the buggers, but he is able to hold back some of his desperation. The allusion to Mazer Rackham is a subtle way of linking Ender's role to that of a savior, but Ender does not see just how important he is to Graff.