Shoot Straight - Chapter 3: "Graff"

An Ender's Game reread

From here on out there is a huge spoiler warning: do not keep reading if you haven't read the book and are afraid of having something ruined for you. Go finish the novel! Then come back and chat with us. :)

New Characters: Colonel Graff

What Happens

International Fleet: The two Fleet personnel who may or may not be hiding in a black van down the street from the Wiggins' home are plotting. Bottom line: they want Ender to come with them to some mysterious place and know the only reason he may not is because of how much he loves his sister, Valentine. They're prepared to lie to the boy -- or tell him the truth, depending on how desperate the situation becomes.

Ender: You remember that anxious, nauseous feeling you would have in the morning when there was a reason to dread going to school that day? Perhaps you were getting back the results of an exam you probably failed, vomited the day before in front of everyone, or killed a kid with your shoe while waiting for the bus. Well, that's Ender Wiggin at breakfast this morning. Whichever you look at it, school day is going to blow. What are Stilson and his cronies going to do to him? "Probably nothing," Ender thinks. He has no idea how right he is.

Enter Colonel Graff, one of the mysterious plotting characters from the International Fleet. He rings the doorbell right in the middle of Wiggin family breakfast and this is why Ender is my favorite:
And Ender thought, Maybe I won't have to go to school today after all.

Peter, unable to pass up the opportunity to be a wrecking ball, informs Ender that they most likely found out about what he did to Stilson -- how did he find out the kid's name? -- and have come to make him "do time out in the Belt."  It doesn't matter that he's six -- he's a Third and, according to Peter, has no rights whatsoever.

And Peter is half right. Ender is called into the living room by his very upset parents. Graff has informed them Ender has injured Stilson so badly he's in the hospital wink wink and demands an explanation for his behavior. Ender begins to cry, believing he's in trouble, but he's unable to think of anything he could have possibly done differently.
"Knocking him down won the first fight. I wanted to win all the next ones, too. So they'd leave me alone." [...] "You took away the monitor," Ender said. "I had to take care of myself, didn't I?
As soon as his father suggests that Ender should have asked a grown-up for help, Graff  interrupts him. I imagine him shooting John Paul a death glare over his shoulder as he's basically all, "Ender, that is the best excuse for manslaughter I've ever heard," and invites him to join him at Battle School in the Belt.

So here's what happened: Ender passed all his monitoring days with flying colors, but the last part of the test was to see how he handled himself when the monitor came off. Annihilating his bully and not getting killed by Peter apparently earned him 10 out of 10. Graff is free to walk out of the house with Ender that very second as long as Ender himself wants to go. His parents are obviously a bit upset with the entire situation, but have no choice but to let Graff manipulate their son with them not in earshot.

And weirdly enough, what Graff tells him isn't too far from the truth: Battle school is hard, he won't even recognize Valentine when he sees her again, and his parents won't miss him much at all. Why? He's a third, and his parents vowed they'd never have more than the allotted 2 children because they both came from "noncompliant," religious families. He's a source of embarrassment even though his birth was requisitioned by the IF. They love him, but having him up in Battle School, away from the judgmental eyes of their peers would make their lives a whole lot easier.
Graff leaned over and took Ender's hands in his. "Ender Wiggin, if it were just a matter of choosing the best and happiest future for you, I'd tell you to stay home. Stay here, grow up, be happy. There are worse things than being a Third, worse things than a big brother who can't make up his mind whether to be a human being or a jackal. Battle School is one of those worse things. But we need you."
I really hope scenes like that make it into the movie. Sniff.

And, I mean, how can you stay home twiddling your thumbs after a speech like that? The Buggers are coming, they'll wipe us out, Mazer Rackham, etc. Graff lays it on thick and Ender agrees to go.
Good-bye,” Ender said to his family. He reached up and took Colonel Graff’s hand and walked out the door with him.
“Kill some buggers for me!” Peter shouted.
“I love you, Andrew!” Mother called.
“We’ll write to you!” Father said.
And as he got into the car that waited silently in the corridor, he heard Valentine’s anguished cry. “Come back to me! I love you forever!”
I just love them all so much. Even Peter, though it's him that's a "little pinheaded fart-eater."


- How did Peter know the kid Ender kicked the snot out of was named Stilson?

- When it comes down to it, which method does Graff choose? Does he lie to Ender or does he tell them the truth? Later, Ender believes Graff is his friend because he didn't lie to him. Is that true?

- The wording here is interesting:
We asked your parents to choose a daughter next—they would have anyway—hoping that Valentine would be Peter, but milder.
 Choose a daughter. Welcome to the future.

Favorite Quotes

"Conscripts make good cannon fodder, but for officers we need volunteers."

He didn't like Peter's kind, the strong against the weak, and he didn't like his own kind, either, the smart against the stupid.

"Valentine loves me."
"With all her heart. Completely, unstintingly, she's devoted to you, and you adore her. I told you it wouldn't be easy."

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« Chapter 2: Peter | Index | Chapter 4: Launch »

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