Graff questions Major Imbu on how the computer program that runs the fantasy game could have put a picture of Peter in the mirror, but the Major tells him that the End of the World portion of the game is new to them all and they do not know how it is operated. The computer could only have gotten a recent photo of Peter from the land computers if it had determined it necessary for Enderís development. However, why it is necessary is unknown to the Major and possibly even the program; the game is between each individual child and the computer, and its actions could have any number of meanings for Ender himself.
For the first time since Ender has gone to Battle School, the novel returns to what is going on back on Earth. Valentine has continued celebrating Enderís birthdays and remembering him, even though the rest of the family seems not to; they have even moved in the years that have passed. Amidst the outdoors, Peter has put up a front of enjoying school and getting along with other children but Valentine knows the truth. She has come across a squirrel that Peter caught, pinned down, and cut open while it died slowly, as an outlet for Peterís anger. She also knows he studies far more advanced topics at home on his own than he does at school.
One day in the woods, Peter starts to talk to Valentine. He starts off the conversation by talking about whether he would kill her or not, she is not worried because Peterís defining characteristic is his rationality and ability to stay in control, and it is still in Peterís best interest not to kill her. Although at first it seems like things are much the way they had been when Ender was still there, Valentine and Peter have developed another level to their relationship-they now talk to each other about events and ideas to help refine their thoughts. This time, Peter tells Valentine he has noticed that Russia is getting ready for war, and the bugger threat will no longer hold the world together. He has a plan though.
Peter and Valentine both have the power to manipulate others, Peter through fear, and Valentine through flattery. Peter wants to use this ability to influence the public mind. He says that if Valentine tells Father that Peter, in order to eliminate stress, needs to be able to talk with his intellectual equals, Father will give them access to the nets through his civilian access. Then they can create identities, so that even though they are just children, they can still be taken seriously.
Peter tells Valentine that they must take advantage of the opportunity to prevent the world from reverting back to how it was, to keep people united. While he admits it is in his nature to control things, he even goes so far as to cry at the thought of being a killer, of controlling with pure evil at its root. Valentine is not sure if Peter is sincere or not, but knows that regardless, the crying as a sign of weakness was a calculated move. It does not matter though, because, even if he is not aware of it, her power is greater than his, and so she agrees to help him.
They start off by observing, and, with temporary identities, writing inflammatory opinions so that people respond. They even write debates beforehand and then post them under different names. In this way, they are able to refine their writing until they create their real identities. With Valentine writing under the name of Demosthenes and Peter under the name Locke, they compose their writings separately so that the two do not appear to have any connection, but express the opinions of the other-with Demosthenes therefore being more fear-based, and Locke, a moderate-so that the characters are kept under control. Although Valentine is initially hesitant to write some of the views, Peter convinces her that it is necessary. They even post in different regional nets so that there does not seem to be any connection between Locke and Demosthenes.
As the phrases that they use in their writing start to appear elsewhere, they know they are being read by an increasing audience. Valentine even receives an offer for Demosthenes to write a weekly column, which she accepts, under Peterís urging, to get an access code that cannot be traced to her. As the column is picked up by other newsnets, Father sees it and, much to Valentineís disappointment, he agrees with many of Demosthenesí views. Locke is soon made a similar offer, to write a contrasting column, which Peter also takes.
Meanwhile, although everything is going well for him, Ender is unhappy. He has so much respect now, that all he is to others is an all-business commander, and not a friend. Even when Alai and Shen reminiscence about the fight with the older boys in zero gravity, they soon apologize for the disturbance. Ender is also unable to find satisfaction in the fantasy game, which he still plays but without understanding what he is supposed to do, what the point is-he always dies in the tower room. It fills him with despair to think of how controlled his life is.
Enderís predicament leads to a visit to Earth from Colonel Graff. Valentine arrives at her middle school to see I.F. officers around and a message for her to report to the principalís office, where Graff is waiting. She is relieved when she realizes that he is there about Ender and not about her Demosthenes writings or Peterís behavior.
Graff tells Valentine that he does not know how to help Ender, or even what the problem with Ender is, but that he needs her help. If she does not, her family will be involved, because he needs to figure something out. However, he does not think such questioning and tests will be necessary because she means so much to Ender. When he says this, Valentine feels guilty about her relationship with Peter, for being closer to him now than Ender and for giving in to Peter when Ender was able to remain strong in her mind.
She also insists that Ender and Peter are opposites, which Graff says is the most important thing that Ender needs to hear. Graff wants Valentine to write him a letter telling him that, but if she will not, then he will use her previous letters (never seen by Ender) to forge one. Although he has kept Ender isolated, even changing the rules so that Ender will not return to Earth until he is 18, instead of 12 as it had been originally, he now wants to push Ender forward. He tells Valentine that writing the letter will be helping Ender, but he also admits that the bad things they will do to Ender have not started yet.
When Ender reads the letter from Valentine, full of inside jokes, he realizes that because this letter was allowed, that part of his life is also under control by others, just like the rest of it. It ruins the treasured memory of Valentine in his mind to have her become a part of the manipulation, whether she really did it on her own will or the Battle School found out what she meant and is using it. Ender cries openly on his bed, even though it makes the other children uncomfortable to see their respected soldier doing so.
Ender plays the fantasy game, realizing as he does that the letter had just been about Peter, which also upsets him because it means the letter was in response to the School finding out about Peterís appearance in the game. This time, instead of killing the snake, he kisses it. It turns into Valentine, regretfully for Ender since he had killed the snake so often and did not want it to have been his sister all along. The two figures stand before the mirror in the tower room, and instead of seeing Peter, there is a dragon and a unicorn. When they touch the mirror, it disappears, and they go down a staircase with cheering people. In Enderís happiness at being with Valentine, he does not realize that all their faces have Peterís face.
The principal gives Valentine a letter, commending her efforts, assuring her that it worked, and that she will receive an award when the situation is over. As instructed, the principal burns it after she reads it. Valentine is very upset over what she is sure the letter did to Ender, and her next Demosthenes writing is about how Thirds are of such value to humanity.
Guilford County, North Carolina where the Wiggin family lives now is known as the sight of a decisive battle in the Revolutionary War as well as a location of sit-ins during the Civil Rights movement. Peter and Valentineís move to this county intentionally coincides with their involvement in national and world affairs as Locke and Demosthenes, respectively. Their actions are based on the democratic principles that the countyís history also reflects.
Peterís treatment of the squirrel demonstrates the depth of his mental disturbance. Cruelty to animals is seen as a sign of a criminal mind, a trait often identified with serial killers. Peter is still important to Ender though, because he uses him as a control on his own behavior. Ender sees Peter as the extreme, and compares his own actions to Peterís. When he acts as Peter would, inflicting harm on others, he recognizes this and it stops him from becoming crueler.
Although the book is set in the future, Peterís observations of Russian troop movements are grounded in the historical context. Card wrote the book in the 1970s, while tensions between the U.S. and Russia remained high. Therefore, having Russia prepare for war against what had become the existing power structure (with the United States in some form as its leader) made sense. The political organization of this future global government is largely created for the purposes of the book, but such details as the Warsaw Pact (an actual agreement between Soviet states as an answer to NATO) draw on this actual world context, making events seem plausible.
Locke and Demosthenes, the pen names that Peter and Valentine take on, also reflect historical realities. While few of the specific details of the political discussions are given in the book, from what the reader does know, it seems as though Peter maintains Lockeís reasonable views while Valentine stays true to Demosthenesí fear of the government losing control to another power. Also, Demosthenesí need to avoid those in power in order to prevent repercussions for his rhetoric is something Valentine herself shares, always worried that she and Peterís true identities will be revealed by the authorities. However, it is Peterís arguments that just because they are children does not mean they cannot act, that contribute to the ongoing theme that children are capable and that age should not be used to judge a personís abilities.
It is in this chapter that there is a hint of another influence to Cardís writing besides the historical. A fan of the Foundation series by Isaac Asimov, Card has Peter talk about how there are patterns in behavior, which bring about times when history can be guided by individuals in a specific direction. This idea is the underlying idea behind Foundation, which tells of the efforts of several key figures in shortening the period of decline of civilization.
As mentioned previously, the scene with the snake in the room in the tower could be seen as a metaphor for the Garden of Eden, especially as it occurs after Colonel Graff admits that the hard times are about to begin for Ender. The snake is cruel, killing Ender a number of times and in the end, it turns out to be a female, Valentine, just as Adam was tempted to actions that led to his expulsion by Eve, after she had consorted with the serpent. When Ender and Valentineís figures leave the tower room, the crowd on either side have Peterís face; now that they are out of the Garden of Eden, evil is now a part of their world. Additionally, Valentine and Graff even talk about having read the Bible in the preceding scene.
Cite this page:
McCauley, Kelly. "TheBestNotes on Ender's Game".
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