Study Guide

Speaker for the Dead Compassion and Forgiveness

By Orson Scott Card

Compassion and Forgiveness

Speaker for the Dead is one long orgy of compassion and forgiveness. Marcao beats his wife; Novinha commits adultery; the piggies kill Libo and Pipo; Ender kills all the buggers in the biggest genocide in all of recorded history. And then we feel bad for them all and forgive them in a big old emotional outpouring of tears and grief and catharsis. Everybody feels guilty for everything, and you just want to shake them and say, hey—don't feel guilty. If you didn't do these horrible things, how could we forgive you and get all teary and lyrical? It's like the piggies getting tortured to turn into trees—the pain feels good, especially when Ender's holding the knife.

Questions About Compassion and Forgiveness

  1. Does Ender forgive Marcao? Does he have the right to forgive him? Can you forgive someone who has wronged somebody else?
  2. What harm does compassion cause in the novel? Would the characters be better off with less compassion?
  3. Is ramen defined by the ability to feel compassion? Explain your answer.

Chew on This

Compassion is Ender's super-power.

Forgiveness depends on good intentions, so Speaker for the Dead is careful to make sure that everyone's intentions are good.