Speaker for the Dead: p. 158--171
Not since he was a child in the military had Ender felt so clearly that he was in enemy territory.This is an interesting point to start with, because the whole purpose of the deceptive rigmarole that was "Ender's Game" was to prevent him from every knowing he was in enemy territory, while still trying to get him to act like he was in enemy territory. It was all games, false enemies, which is a bit strange: 'not since he had played laser tag in which other children pretended to be his mortal enemies had Ender felt so much like he was surrounded by mortal enemies' doesn't quite have the same impact. The actual enemies came in two camps: children who actually wanted to cause him harm, like Bonzo, who didn't actually have any of their own 'territory', and adults who intended to abuse Ender into sprouting superpowers, whose territory he never left for even a second between the ages of six and twelve. I'm not sure which of these kinds of enemies Ender is supposed to be imagining the Lusitanians are. That whole 'empathy' deal he supposedly specialises in might prod him to consider whether these villagers have more in common with Badger Army (they bear him no actual ill will, but have been commanded to act like it by their leader), Bonzo (they will murder him as soon as they think they can get away with it), Graff (they will find a use for him if they can, and won't care how much harm it causes), or the formics (they have no goddamn clue what he's doing there but they can't imagine how to negotiate peace with him and so will defend themselves as best they can). That seems like an important distinction, in terms of types of enemies Ender is familiar with.
Ah, but it's not all the Lusitanians he has in mind, just the Church, as he's climbed the hill to their terraces and there are priests and deacons glaring at him as they pass on the paths. I'm curious how many priests and deacons there can be--Milagre is a very small town, three or five thousand at best, supposedly scratching out a rather limited existence, all for the sake of a couple of xenologers and xenobiologists. How many churches could they need? How many churches can they support?
...Priests and deacons, their eyes malevolent with authority under threat. What do I steal from you be coming here? Ender asked them silently. But he knew that their hatred was not undeserved. He was a wild herb growing in the well-tended garden; wherever he stepped, disorder threatened,and many lovely flowers would die if he took root and sucked the life from their soil.I was going to say that this book must have been some kind of huge pressure valve on Card's issues with the Catholic church, and then I remembered that this is science fiction, a genre beloved by people who consider themselves far too enlightened to bother with any of that religion nonsense, and I wondered if the unrelenting irrational church-bashing isn't actually one of the book's marketing points.
Jane is trolling Ender by trying to get him to talk out loud when no one else can hear her. Oh, my sweet Jane, you understand:
"How many priests can this community support, Ender?"He doesn't answer aloud, not least because Jane has all the data anyway, but he silently thinks on Valentine's history of Zanzibar, where she argued that a "rigid hierarchy always emerged as the conservative force in a community [....] if there were no powerful advocate of orthodoxy, the community would inevitably disintegrate". Then there's a metaphor about how bones are dead and stony but allow flesh to take action, and I wonder if Valentine ever bothered to learn anything about bones, because between marrow, endosteum, periosteum, nerves, blood vessels and cartilage, bones are anything but dead. Hell, even osseous tissue isn't 'dead', and that's the hard white part that 'bone' usually means.
Jane starts quoting Valentine's essay in Ender's ear, in Valentine's own voice, reminding Ender that he's so very, very alone--if only he had some kind of direct link-up to the instantaneous galactic communication network that would literally allow him to Skype with her at this exact second if he felt like it. I know there are various reasons why he's not doing that, but Ender's solitude is self-imposed, let's not forget, eh? Anyway, the lack of Valentine is why, apparently, he's so aware of the priests' hostility, so much worse than all the other religions he's faced:
He had bearded the Calvinist lion in its den, he had walked philosophically naked among the burning coals of Islam, and Shinto fanatics had sung death threats outside his window in Kyoto.
First: Why do all of these people hate speakers so much? Speakers don't preach any tenets that conflict with these religions! Speakers don't preach tenets at all. There is no conversion process, there are no vows, there are no congregations or tithes or excommunications! Speaking is 100% compatible with all of these religions! (My working theory at this point is that every other Speaker in the galaxy goes around having a perfectly pleasant time, whereas people constantly try to tell Ender what a colossal jackwagon he personally is and he's just "Pfft, religious oppressors!" and slouches away into the sunset.)
Second: "bearded the Calvinist lion"? For starters, Card, that sounds way gayer than you think it does. ("For the last time, mom, the lion is just my roommate!") Second, that implies that Ender actually, you know, defeated Calvinism, and I'm reasonably certain the record will show that he had zero effect except in using his institionally-granted authority to berate a student into shutting up instead of responding to his arguments.
Third: Shinto, Islam, Calvinist protestant Christianity, and now the Catholic Church? Has Ender been level-grinding this whole time? Is Catholicism the final boss?!
Ender proceeds to the monastery (seriously how many priests does this colony town have) on a hill overlooking the Zenador's Station. There's about a page of exposition on the titles the COTMOCs use: Dom Cristão just means "Sir Christian", and is an intentional humblebrag because San Angelo thought it would be hilarious to make people choose between calling his abbots 'lord commoner' or using their long Ye-Must-Love-Dogs prayer names, such that "a sermon comes from their own lips". All the other COTMOCs have agriculturally-themed names in Portuguese, such that teachers are 'sowers', principals are 'plowmen', and the abbot, Sir Christian, Ye Must Love Dogs, is also called ceifeiro, 'reaper'. REAPER. You know that thing where people get on a roll and then take it one step too far? We've just passed it.
(It's also a rule that, in the highest-ranking couple of COTMOCs on a planet, the husband runs the monastery and his wife runs the schools, thus the Dona Cristã we met a couple of chapters and thirty years ago. Dunno if it's the same one now. The
Ender and Ye Must Love Reapers banter insufferably about repentance; Reaper asks if it's true Ender knew San Angelo; Ender proves that he did by commenting on how Angelo, Patron Saint of Passive Aggression, would have loved the messy weeds that Reaper allows to grow over the wall where they'll irritate Bishop Peregrino. (We also finally get confirmation that Ender lived on Trondheim for a year and a half. Valentine did not meet, marry, and get pregnant in three weeks like it originally seemed.)
They tour the grounds for the rest of the afternoon, until they join his wife, who at least also gets a pretty badass name as the Aradora, 'Harrow'. (I assume, since they're Catholic, that it's also meant to be a reference to that incident in Catholic fanon where Jesus burst into Hell like the Kool-Aid man to rescue the righteous heathens. I like that bit.) More discussion of language, since Reaper's name is shortened to Amai, while hers is Detestai, making them "Love and Loathing"; Ender says he could call her 'Beleza' (beautiful) but she jokes her husband would call her 'Beladona' for the poison subtext, et cetera et cetera. Ender, who shares the conservative obsession with other people's bedroom arrangements, notices that they have separate beds despite San Angelo saying they should sleep together, and Amai insists that their self-control isn't that good and by the way he's totally into women what are you implying. Ender says Angelo hoped that all the COTMOCs would eventually choose to have children, because, again, San Angelo was a huge troll.
Ender thinks of Valentine, "as close and loving as a wife, and yet chaste as a sister". He is overcome with sorrow and talks about losing her, and Loathing sympathetically acknowledges that he too is chaste "and now widowed as well", which Ender doesn't find weird, which is okay because I'm creeped out enough for eight people. Jane taunts Ender a bit about how he's losing control in front of them; Ender says he feels like things have completely reversed from the Ribeira house and he's helpless in the care of these monks, as if he were Grego. They've barely said a word to Ender except to acknowledge that loneliness sucks, which is hardly the most inscrutable insight, so I can only buy this scene by assuming that this is all Ender imploding and not meant to actually indicate super-empathy on the part of Reaper and Harrow.
Seeing him crack, Reaper and Harrow declare that they now trust that he will not voluntarily harm anyone in the colony, and Jane teases that she now understands how this was all part of Ender's scheme, prompting him to turn off the wifi in his ear-bling, thus cutting her off. Reaper and Harrow recognise this as a Serious Action, even though Jane is completely unique and secret and so they can have no possible way of knowing what Ender did other than turn off his live news feed. That just seems polite, to me. They sit out on the hill under the stars and exposit for a while to him.
Novinha never knew of the discussions that took place concerning her. The sorrows of mmost children might not have warranted meetings in the Bishop's chambers, conversations in the monastery among her teachers, endless speculations in the Mayor's office. Most children, after all, were not the daughters of Os Venerados; most were not their planet's only xenobiologist.And the net result of these conversations was that... nothing happened? Like, they literally did nothing. We don't even have any indication that she had a legal guardian after age five. No one even told her that they cared whether she lived or died. Talking in secret about how much you'd like to support someone is not the same thing as actually supporting them. They say that Novinha acted cheerful, but was dead inside, and the only exception was Libo, who only got rage and banishment from her. They lick some funky-tasting local plant life (that's not a euphemism) and Reaper makes an analogy:
"...I think Novinha tasted something not at all pleasant, but so strong it overcame her, and she could never let go of the flavour [....] The pride of universal guilt. It's a form of vanity and egomania. She holds herself responsible for things that could not possibly be her fault."Again: I wonder if maybe anyone could have made some progress if they'd, for example, ever spoken to her about any of this. Everyone in this colony is apparently a therapist except the actual therapists. But, more importantly to Our Heroes, Reaper actually puzzled out that Novinha's hiding something (for which she takes the blame for Pipo's death), because she wasn't able to lock away the recording of that very first argument in which Libo demanded to see what Pipo had been working on right before he got murdered. (Apparently, yes, everything that happens inside the scientific stations really is just voice-recorded 100% of the time and the abbot has access to those recordings? They are, in fact, shocked that Novinha has locked up most of her work so tightly that even the Mayor isn't allowed to waltz in and peruse the permanent automatic logs of everything Novinha does on the computers, like she can for anyone else. HOW DOES PRIVACY WORK IN THE FUTURE.)
"It was an outrageous thing for her to do. Of course the Mayor could have used emergency override powers, but what was the emergency? We'd have to hold a public hearing, and we didn't have any legal justification. Just concern for her, and the law has no respect for people who pry for someone else's good."I just can't with these people anymore.
They go on to theorise that she married Marcos specifically to punish herself, and Ender resists the urge to
"If you really intend to speak Marcos Ribeira's death, somehow you'll have to answer that question--why did she marry him? And to answer that, you have to figure out why Pipo died. And ten thousand of the finest minds in the Hundred Worlds have been working on that for more than twenty years."
"But I have an advantage over all those finest minds," said Ender. [....] "I have the help of people who love Novinha."Man, I was going to say it was that he didn't go to Clown College, but I guess that's a fair answer, if we interpret 'love' to mean 'patronisingly obsess over and attempt to violate the privacy of an individual while never actually engaging them in an honest discussion about their emotional state'. Ender, being a super-genius, has already worked out that Novinha refused to marry Libo because he would have had access to her files, although Reaper and Harrow maintain that it was all about punishing herself.
Ender returns 'home' and tries to apologise to Jane for cutting her off, but she doesn't respond when he speaks to her or types into the terminal: "Forgive me [...] I miss you." It belatedly occurs to Ender that forcibly separating Jane from the only mind in the universe that knows she exists might have been a harsher action than he realised. The hive queen doesn't respond to him either, except to ask, wordlessly, if it's time to hatch yet. He beams another message out into the galactic internet ether:
"Come back to me, Jane [...] I love you." [....] Someone in the Mayor's office would read it, as all open ansible messages were read; no doubt by the Mayor, the Bishop, and Dom Cristão would all know about it by morning.Ender, who just made two new friends roughly his own age who immediately got him to open up about his inner weaknesses and feelings and then provided him with vital information that will directly lead to cracking open this mystery, declares that "for the first time in twenty years he was utterly alone". He says this despite having literally compared himself to Grego and Quara, whom he also declared were now his family whether they liked it or not after undergoing a substantially less helpful and more aggressive bonding experience. Have I repeated myself too much if I just shout THERAPY FOR EVERYONE again? Because... that.
Next week: Jane's backstory! For the first time ever, I am legitimately excited about what's next. Let's see if that joy betrays me.