Study Guide

Speaker for the Dead Foreignness and the Other

By Orson Scott Card

Foreignness and the Other

Speaker for the Dead is both really enthusiastic about otherness and really nervous about it. To embrace the other, to make peace with and respect the piggies, is seen as quintessentially ethical. At the same time though, the amount of difference or foreignness a community can stand is seen as precarious. Miro thinks that even sleeping with Ouanda a couple of years too early could damage the community, much less allying with interstellar bugs. The book tries to resolve this tension in part by changing community boundaries—interstellar bugs aren't a threat to the community if they're included in the community. In other words, alienness is okay if it's domesticated… But then is it really alien? Is Speaker for the Dead tolerant of difference or not? Even the book itself, Shmoop thinks, isn't entirely sure.

Questions About Foreignness and the Other

  1. When Ender speaks for the buggers or the piggies, does he make them less alien? Is that good or bad?
  2. From Ender's perspective, can you think of any character who would be an utlanning? A framling? A raman? A varelse? 
  3. The novel has several different alien species, or raman. What if there were just one? Would the novel be much different? Why do you think Card includes multiple aliens?

Chew on This

Novinha sees herself as an alien, so when the aliens are accepted as human on Lusitania, she can be human too.

The piggie Human betrays his people just as Miro and Ouanda betray their people.