IMR | Speaker For the Dead – They Were Special to Someone

So my absence from blogging is three fold:

  1. School has been and is still a major task master that never releases its claws until finals end. It has literally been midterm after lab report after paper right now. (I really should be writing a paper on Iphigenia at Aulis right now…)
  2. Because of (1), I’ve had very little time to read anything besides school-related material, most of which is science–the exact opposite of what I wanted this blog to be about.
  3. I forgot that I haven’t finished the Titan’s Curse reviews and I will…it is horrendously overdue.

And then I got my hands on the sequel (in composition, and technically plot) to Ender’s Game, Speaker for the Dead. And since I’m still in the middle of the book, I’m writing another IMR (In Medias Res) post!

Speaker_dead_coverSome context: 3000 years after the events of Ender’s Game, Andrew is now a 35 year old (thanks relativistic speed!) professional Speaker for the Dead, an orator of the true life story of the deceased. Using his position as a guise, he travels from planet to planet to find a home for the formic queen as he is requested to speak for people long gone. He accepts a request at Lusitania, a planet found on Portuguese Catholic roots, which is the ideal home for the formics, except the locals are already having problems with the planet’s natives, the piggies.

In a gross oversimplification (on my part) of the plot, Ender is called to speak for Marcao Ribeira, who was abusive to his wife and children, the latter of whom want their father’s hidden cruelty finally revealed.

Except the youngest, Grego.

It really is a terrible scene. The children show Ender a muted video recording of their father’s verbal and physical abuse, and end with arguing over whether revealing this is morally correct. Grego, unsuccessful in physically attacking Ender, is restrained until he finally gives in and bursts into tears.

Because, as Ender deduces, Grego looked up to his father as a role model.

Well, good thing he’s gone then, you might think. Terrible influence on a young boy.

But when you think about it, aren’t all those who we consider “evil” technically someone’s child? Someone’s family member? Friend? Loved one?

Ender has this great conversation with his speaker for the dead trainees in which they discuss the source of evil. Is it the action, the enactor, or the justification for acting that makes something evil?

It is easy to say the Marcao was wrong in the treatment of his family. It is easy to say Grego is better off without him. But is Grego wrong in loving his father?

Hard to say. Hitler had Eva Braun, who loved and committed suicide with him. Surely Saddam Hussein had a guardian as he grew, who loved and took care of him. Bellatrix Lestrange had her sister, Scar was adored by that lioness in Lion King 2 (whose name escapes me right now), and that guy who pushed you on the bus probably has a family to go home to.

Are they wrong in loving people we hate? Are we wrong in hating, in building anger?

Some may say I’m stretching it, equating the man who started the second world war and subsequently the deaths of millions to a guy who makes you pissed off for a mere five seconds. But this empathy should be able to extend to any human that history has deemed evil.

Because if we have special people who matter to us, surely those who bring hatred and ill-will in us, must have brought joy to someone else at some point.

“Little boys don’t judge their fathers, they love them. Grego was trying as hard as he could to be just like Marcos Ribeira. The rest of you might have been glad to see him gone, but for Grego it was the end of the world.”
-(Ender) Orson Scott Card, Speaker for the Dead

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