Study Guide

Speaker for the Dead Chapter 16

By Orson Scott Card

Chapter 16

The Fence

  • The epigraph is from San Angelo, the saint whose death Ender spoke and who founded the Filhes. It's a parable based on Jesus's statement that only he who is without sin should cast the first stone. San Angelo says most communities either punish sin to preserve themselves, or do not punish sin and end in decay. Angelo says Jesus demanded a balance between obeying law and forgiving transgression.
  • And the plot goes on. Miro is depressed because Ouanda is his sister and he can't marry her, which leaves him thinking bitter thoughts.
  • He tries to go out to see the piggies, but when he touches the fence he gets the evil nerve shock, and the fence tells him he's wanted by Starways for violating their orders about the piggies.
  • He's desperate to tell the piggies what's happened, but he can't get through so he walks along the fence hooting for them to come.
  • Quim is with the Bishop. He's upset because his mother is an adulteress, and the Bishop tells him he needs to get over it. Exit Quim.
  • Ender shows up and bows asking for blessing.
  • The Bishop blesses him, though he's not sure what Ender's trying to show.
  • Ender says his dad was a Catholic.
  • They verbally spar a bit, but end up getting along.
  • Everybody else shows up, and they all wait for Novinha.
  • Cut to Ela out getting Novinah.
  • Novinah reveals she's been following Ela's work all along. Shmoop thinks this is supposed to be touching, but it actually seems kind of creepy.
  • There's some squabbling.
  • Ela says Ender always tells the truth and loves everyone and that he will bring Novinha and Ela together.
  • The piggies come up to Miro on the other side of the fence, and he tells them that Starways has found out about the cultural exchanges and they're all in trouble.
  • The piggies tell Miro that there have been lots of piggies born and that their tribe will win all its wars.
  • Miro says that Starways will take him off planet to trial; the piggies tell him they'll hide him, but he says the machines will find him.
  • Anyway, he says, he can't climb the fence.
  • But the piggies show him that they can get over the fence by chewing the capim grass. It acts as an anesthetic.
  • The piggies have been climbing the fence for a long time and wandering around with the humans.
  • But more importantly for now, Miro thinks he can climb the fence and live with the piggies and escape from Starways.
  • He grabs the fence and climbs over, but it turns out the root only works on piggies so he suffers horrible pain and tips over to the piggie side, still writhing.
  • Leaf-eater wants to plant him (a.k.a. torture him to death in hopes he turns into a tree) but Human says no, go get Ouanda.
  • Back to the meeting with Ender, where Novinha has finally arrived.
  • Ender tells them he can make it look like he's cut off the ansible connection, so they can still use the ansible and see out but Starways won't know what they're doing.
  • Bosquinha says this would be an act of war.
  • The Bishop thinks they should comply with Starways, but Ender tells him that Starways is scared of the piggies and is keeping them behind the fence in order to stop them doing to humans what humans did to buggers (killing them all and taking their technology).
  • Ender also explains that the piggies change into trees, and that they were trying to turn Pipo and Libo into trees as an honor, rather than trying to horribly murder them.
  • The Bishop still isn't convinced.
  • But—final big reveal—Novinha tells them that the Descolada infects all biological matter, so no humans can be taken off Lusitania or they'll infect and destroy all plant and animal life wherever they go.
  • So that means there will be no evacuation, since Starways copied Novinha's files.
  • Instead, Ender says, once Starways figures out the piggies could destroy worlds just by stepping on them, they'll be terrified and destroy Lusitania.
  • Therefore, Ender says, they've got to rebel right here, right now.
  • Ouanda comes in with Mandachuva to tell them that Miro is outside the fence convulsed and may die.
  • Mandachuva asks if they should plant him, and Ender tells him not to plant anyone anymore.
  • They send for a doctor, but they can't get to Miro unless they turn off the fence via Jane, which will put them in rebellion.
  • They get to the fence. Ender tells the piggies that they'll be at war with Starways if they turn off the fence; he says he needs to make a treaty with the wives.
  • Human agrees to let him see the wives, though Leaf-eater isn't so keen.
  • The Bishop is tempted to go into rebellion because he could preach to the piggies, and seeing Miro dying, agrees to let the fence come down.
  • Jane gloats about how cool she and Ender are for setting things up just right, which seems kind of crappy considering that Miro is permanently crippled.
  • Navio tries to care for Miro, and Ender prepares to go meet the wives.