Ender’s Game

Pdf fan dd71f526917d6085d66d045bd94fb5b55d02a108dd45d836cbdd4abe2d4c043d Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)

Colonel Hyrum Graff Character Analysis

Colonel Graff is one of the most complicated characters in the novel: a stern, callous bureaucrat who believes in the importance of defeating the Buggers at all costs, but also seemingly comes to believe that he’s pushing Ender too hard. Graff is instrumental in spotting Ender’s potential and convincing Ender to come to Battle School. In spite of his persuasive persona, Graff regularly uses manipulation and cruel deceptions, always with the stated goal of making Ender a better soldier. Ender comes to despise Graff for singling him out at Battle School and provoking the hatred of his classmates. His disgust with Graff grows after Graff convinces Valentine to persuade Ender to continue fighting against the Buggers. Graff is ultimately court-martialed for endangering Ender’s life, but he’s acquitted after he argues that his measures were justified by Ender’s growth as a warrior. At the end of the novel, he has accepted a post as the new Minister of Colonization—the agent of war and violence has become an advocate for peace.

Colonel Hyrum Graff Quotes in Ender’s Game

The Ender’s Game quotes below are all either spoken by Colonel Hyrum Graff or refer to Colonel Hyrum Graff . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Love, Empathy, and Destruction Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Tor edition of Ender’s Game published in 2008.
Chapter 1 Quotes

“So what do we do? Surround him with enemies all the time?”
“If we have to.”
“I thought you said you liked this kid.”
“If the Buggers get him, they’ll make me look like his favorite uncle.”
“All right. We’re saving the world, after all. Take him.”

Related Characters: Colonel Hyrum Graff (speaker), Major Anderson (speaker), Andrew “Ender” Wiggin
Page Number: 1
Explanation and Analysis:

In this early quotation, two high-ranking officials in the "International Fleet" (IF) discuss the education they're planning for Ender Wiggin. Ender is a phenomenally brilliant young boy--his intelligence and leadership potential could make him the greatest military commander the world has ever seen. Graff and Anderson's strategy for Ender's education could be summed up as "survival of the fittest." In order to ensure that Ender becomes a first-rate commander (and defeats the biggest threat to humanity, the aliens known as Buggers), they'll bombard him with hostile opponents: rival students, bullies, aggressive teachers, etc. With these teaching methods, they hope to toughen up their prized pupil.

One of the key questions of Card's novel is how people rationalize cruelty and evil to themselves. In the case of Graff and Anderson, the answer is simple: the ends justify the means. Treating a small boy so cruelly might seem harsh, but—in the officials' view—the cruelty is outweighed by the threat of the Buggers invading once again.

A+

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other Ender’s Game quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!
Chapter 3 Quotes

“Tell me why you kept kicking him. You had already won.”
“Knocking him down won the first fight. I wanted to win all the next ones, too, right then, so they’d leave me alone.”

Related Characters: Andrew “Ender” Wiggin (speaker), Colonel Hyrum Graff (speaker), Stilson
Page Number: 19
Explanation and Analysis:

In this scene, Colonel Graff, a powerful military commander, asks Ender why he brutally kicked a bully, Stilson. Stilson was teasing Ender, and Ender responds by knocking Stilson to the floor. But instead of walking away, Ender decided to kick Stilson while he was down, brutally injuring his opponent (and, we later learn, killing him). As we learn here, Ender chose to hurt Stilson because he recognized that it was the right strategy: Ender didn't just want to avoid Stilson for a couple of days; he wanted Stilson, and all the other bullies, to leave him alone forever.

Ender's explanation for his behavior is cool, calm, and chilling—he's motivated by logic, not passion. As Graff acknowledges, Ender's eerie calmness makes him a great general: where other human beings would naturally refrain from hitting an injured opponent, Ender ignores his own sense of compassion in order to win the war, not just the battle. The paradox is that Ender's brutality is a form of compassion: in order to make the decision to hit Stilson, Ender has to be perceptive and understanding enough to know what kind of person Stilson is (i.e., to know that Stilson will never leave him alone). Ender's personality is a mixture of coldness and empathy that's far more dangerous than coldness could ever be by itself.

“They look at you and see you as a badge of pride, because they were able to circumvent the law and have a Third. But you’re also a badge of cowardice, because they dare not go further and practice the noncompliance they still feel is right.”

Related Characters: Colonel Hyrum Graff (speaker), Andrew “Ender” Wiggin , Mr. Wiggin / Father , Mrs. Wiggin / Mother
Page Number: 23
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Colonel Graff walks a fine line between honesty and manipulation. Graff explains to Ender that his parents—religious people forced to live in a secular society—took a great risk when they had Ender. In Ender's society, it's illegal to have more than two children. The government gave Ender's parents permission to have another baby, because their genetic "stock" was considered to be good for producing future generals. Graff claims that Ender is a badge of pride for his parents—by definition he's a very special child—but adds that he's also a source of shame for them.

Graff's logic is a little confused: he claims that by having "only" one extra child beyond the legal limit, Ender's parents are bringing themselves shame, since they secretly believe that people should have the right to have as many children as they can (particular because of their religion). It doesn't really follow that Ender should make his parents ashamed, simply because they haven't gone far enough in rebelling against a controlling government. Graff appears to be manipulating Ender in order to make Ender more likely to agree to leave his family behind and go to Battle School. Ender, for all his intelligence and leadership abilities, can't quite see through Graff's distortions of the truth.

Chapter 4 Quotes

“I won’t lie now,” said Graff. “My job isn’t to be friends. My job is to produce the best soldiers in the world. In the whole history of the world. We need a Napoleon. An Alexander.”

Related Characters: Colonel Hyrum Graff (speaker), Andrew “Ender” Wiggin
Page Number: 34
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quote, Graff, the commander of Battle School, explains the scope of his assignment to Ender. Graff has been tasked with using his education program to produce the best military commander possible—a commander so brilliant that he'll be able to defeat the alien Buggers. Graff even admits that he lied and manipulated Ender before so that Ender would be more likely to attend Battle School. The fact that Graff is now being (mostly) honest with Ender signals that he has complete authority over Ender—he doesn't need to lie anymore.

On the surface, it's almost amusing that a grown man is waxing poetic about Napoleon and Alexander to a 6-year-old boy. Graff's quote presupposes a faith in "the system"—he's confident that his educational program can, in fact, produce great generals, and (just as importantly) predict which students have the greatest potential. Graff claims that he's finally being honest with Ender, but—as Card will quickly make clear—this simply isn't true. Even if Graff will tell Ender the truth at certain times, he'll still manipulate his young pupil in increasingly devious and elaborate ways.

Chapter 8 Quotes

“Ender Wiggin is ten times smarter and stronger than I am. What I’m doing to him will bring out his genius. If I had to go through it myself, it would crush me.”

Related Characters: Colonel Hyrum Graff (speaker), Andrew “Ender” Wiggin
Page Number: 99
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Colonel Graff tries to justify his behavior to his colleagues at the Battle School. Graff has been manipulating Ender to put him in harm's way: first turning his fellow recruits against him, then sending him to serve with Bonzo. Although Graff's actions have raised some eyebrows, Graff's justification is always the same: Ender's treatment is necessary, because it's the only way to create a first-rate general. Here, Grant offers a further elaboration: Ender will be able to withstand anything that comes in his way.

Graff's pronouncement is a clever rhetorical maneuver. By emphasizing his own weakness and foolishness, Graff creates the impression that he's a modest, cautious man while also suggesting that Ender is more than capable of surviving Bonzo's hostility. In short, Graff undercuts his own achievements and authority in order to justify his actions.

Chapter 15 Quotes

“We got the judges to agree that the prosecution had to prove beyond doubt that Ender would have won the war without the training we gave him. After then it was simple. The exigencies of war.”
“Anyway, Graff, it was a great relief to us. I know we quarreled, and I know the prosecution used tapes of our conversation against you. But by then I knew that you were right, and I offered to testify for you.”

Related Characters: Colonel Hyrum Graff (speaker), Major Anderson (speaker)
Page Number: 306
Explanation and Analysis:

In the aftermath of the Bugger War, Graff is prosecuted for criminal behavior. He's accused of turning Ender Wiggin into a monster: encouraging him to hurt other children and ultimately murder an entire race of creatures. As Graff explains here, he was able to get acquitted very simply: he just argued that Ender's brutal training was necessary for winning the war against the Buggers—in other words, to be against Graff is to be against humanity.

Graff's legal victory reminds us that Ender was only ever a pawn for the IF, and remains a pawn even after the Bugger Wars. As Graff makes very clear, Ender's only purpose was to defeat the Buggers: Graff cynically crammed him with lessons in violence and brutality, never caring about (or choosing to ignore) the fact that Ender might be permanently warped by this "education." And even now, after the Bugger Wars, Graff's judges are forced to admit that the ends justify the means: Ender's prolonged torture at Battle School (he's forced to murder children, for example) is less important than humanity's victory against the Buggers. 

Get the entire Ender’s Game LitChart as a printable PDF.
Ender s game.pdf.medium

Colonel Hyrum Graff Character Timeline in Ender’s Game

The timeline below shows where the character Colonel Hyrum Graff appears in Ender’s Game. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3: Graff
Love, Empathy, and Destruction Theme Icon
Morality and Survival Theme Icon
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
Control, Manipulation, and Authority Theme Icon
...fights, too.” The man seems to find this interesting. He introduces himself as Colonel Hyrum Graff, the director of primary training at the Battle School. He explains that he’s come to... (full context)
Morality and Survival Theme Icon
Leadership Theme Icon
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
Control, Manipulation, and Authority Theme Icon
Graff turns his attention to Ender, and tells him that Ender has the choice to attend... (full context)
Love, Empathy, and Destruction Theme Icon
Morality and Survival Theme Icon
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
Control, Manipulation, and Authority Theme Icon
Ender and Graff speak privately outside Ender’s house. Graff explains the truth: if Ender goes to Battle School,... (full context)
Love, Empathy, and Destruction Theme Icon
Leadership Theme Icon
Control, Manipulation, and Authority Theme Icon
Ender and Graff continue talking. Graff explains that Valentine loves Ender with all her heart. He also explains... (full context)
Love, Empathy, and Destruction Theme Icon
Morality and Survival Theme Icon
Control, Manipulation, and Authority Theme Icon
Ender and Graff continue talking. Graff tells Ender that the human race needs another military commander who’s capable... (full context)
Love, Empathy, and Destruction Theme Icon
Morality and Survival Theme Icon
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
Control, Manipulation, and Authority Theme Icon
...Mother (who cries), and shakes hands with Peter. Valentine cries and kisses Ender. With this, Graff takes Ender to his car, and drives him away. As they drive away, Ender looks... (full context)
Chapter 4: Launch
Leadership Theme Icon
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
Control, Manipulation, and Authority Theme Icon
...the Earth, about to “fall” away into space. As Ender thinks, he hears a voice—it’s Graff, greeting him. Graff smiles and jokes, and Ender feels at ease—he’ll have a friend. (full context)
Love, Empathy, and Destruction Theme Icon
Morality and Survival Theme Icon
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
...Ender has already been thinking about the arbitrariness of gravity, he’s unsurprised when he sees Graff walking “upside down” through the shuttle. He notices the other boys gagging and vomiting—being in... (full context)
Morality and Survival Theme Icon
Control, Manipulation, and Authority Theme Icon
Graff yells at Ender and asks why Ender is smiling. Ender is surprised that Graff is... (full context)
Love, Empathy, and Destruction Theme Icon
Morality and Survival Theme Icon
Control, Manipulation, and Authority Theme Icon
...shoots out of his seat, toward a nearby wall. The boy screams—he’s broken his arm. Graff emerges from his room, sedates the boy and sends him to a medical facility. He... (full context)
Love, Empathy, and Destruction Theme Icon
Morality and Survival Theme Icon
Leadership Theme Icon
Control, Manipulation, and Authority Theme Icon
...or what the docking process consists of). As he climbs off the shuttle, Ender sees Graff, and asks him why Graff tried to manipulate the other children into fighting. Graff tells... (full context)
Love, Empathy, and Destruction Theme Icon
Morality and Survival Theme Icon
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
Control, Manipulation, and Authority Theme Icon
As Ender walks away, Graff turns and talks to a teacher named Anderson, who’s been watching the conversation. Graff tells... (full context)
Chapter 5: Games
Love, Empathy, and Destruction Theme Icon
Morality and Survival Theme Icon
Leadership Theme Icon
Control, Manipulation, and Authority Theme Icon
...chapter begins with a conversation between X and Y (who, we can now guess, are Graff and Anderson, respectively). Anderson congratulates Graff for “masterfully” manipulating Ender into fighting his fellow students.... (full context)
Love, Empathy, and Destruction Theme Icon
Morality and Survival Theme Icon
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
...a soldier’s barracks, immediately after the events of the previous chapter. Because he spoke to Graff, he’s the last student to choose a bed, and has been given the worst bed... (full context)
Chapter 6: The Giant’s Drink
Leadership Theme Icon
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
Control, Manipulation, and Authority Theme Icon
The chapter begins with another anonymous conversation, apparently between Graff and one of his military superiors. The superior points out that Ender seems “Stuck in... (full context)
Chapter 7: Salamander
Games, Computers, and Virtual Reality Theme Icon
Leadership Theme Icon
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
Control, Manipulation, and Authority Theme Icon
The chapter begins with a conversation between Graff and a colleague. Graff and the colleague discuss how Ender is capable of “the impossible”—defeating... (full context)
Chapter 8: Rat
Games, Computers, and Virtual Reality Theme Icon
Morality and Survival Theme Icon
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
Control, Manipulation, and Authority Theme Icon
The chapter begins with a conversation, this time between two named characters, Anderson and Graff. Anderson objects that Graff isn’t being “fair” enough with Ender, to which Graff replies that... (full context)
Chapter 9: Locke and Demosthenes
Love, Empathy, and Destruction Theme Icon
Games, Computers, and Virtual Reality Theme Icon
Control, Manipulation, and Authority Theme Icon
Graff and one of his subordinates, Major Imbu, have a conversation about Ender’s psychological development. Neither... (full context)
Love, Empathy, and Destruction Theme Icon
Control, Manipulation, and Authority Theme Icon
...telling her to go to the principle’s office immediately. She does so, and finds Colonel Graff waiting for her. Graff reminds Valentine that they met years ago (on the day Graff... (full context)
Love, Empathy, and Destruction Theme Icon
Control, Manipulation, and Authority Theme Icon
Outside, Graff tells Valentine why he’s here: Ender is doing brilliantly at Battle School, but he’s been... (full context)
Love, Empathy, and Destruction Theme Icon
Leadership Theme Icon
Control, Manipulation, and Authority Theme Icon
Graff watches Valentine crying, and tries to calm her by agreeing with her: he claims he... (full context)
Love, Empathy, and Destruction Theme Icon
Leadership Theme Icon
Control, Manipulation, and Authority Theme Icon
Shortly after meeting with Graff, Valentine receives a letter from General Shimon Levy, the Strategos (who is implied to be... (full context)
Chapter 10: Dragon
Love, Empathy, and Destruction Theme Icon
Morality and Survival Theme Icon
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
Control, Manipulation, and Authority Theme Icon
Anderson and Graff discuss how to teach Ender. For some time now, Ender has been optimistic and happy,... (full context)
Games, Computers, and Virtual Reality Theme Icon
Leadership Theme Icon
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
Control, Manipulation, and Authority Theme Icon
...discontinued because of rumors that Dragon never won more than a third of its games. Graff informs Ender that his soldiers consist entirely of younger soldiers who’ve been promoted to army... (full context)
Leadership Theme Icon
Control, Manipulation, and Authority Theme Icon
After practice, Ender tries to understand why he was hard on Bean. He realizes that Graff used the same strategy on him before he’d even arrived in Battle School—by singling out... (full context)
Chapter 11: Veni Vidi Vici
Love, Empathy, and Destruction Theme Icon
Games, Computers, and Virtual Reality Theme Icon
Morality and Survival Theme Icon
Leadership Theme Icon
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
Control, Manipulation, and Authority Theme Icon
Anderson and Graff argue about the battle schedule Graff has planned for Ender. Anderson objects that the schedule... (full context)
Love, Empathy, and Destruction Theme Icon
Games, Computers, and Virtual Reality Theme Icon
Morality and Survival Theme Icon
Leadership Theme Icon
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
Control, Manipulation, and Authority Theme Icon
One day, Ender receives a visit from Anderson and Graff. They ask him how his army has been doing, and ask him why he doesn’t... (full context)
Chapter 12: Bonzo
Love, Empathy, and Destruction Theme Icon
Morality and Survival Theme Icon
Leadership Theme Icon
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
Control, Manipulation, and Authority Theme Icon
The chapter begins with a conversation between General Pace, an important American officer, and Colonel Graff. Pace has learned from Dap that Graff is intentionally putting Ender’s life in danger. Pace... (full context)
Love, Empathy, and Destruction Theme Icon
Leadership Theme Icon
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
Control, Manipulation, and Authority Theme Icon
Suddenly, Colonel Graff enters Ender’s room. Ignoring Bean, he informs Ender that he’s been transferred to Command School.... (full context)
Love, Empathy, and Destruction Theme Icon
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
Control, Manipulation, and Authority Theme Icon
The next day, Ender prepares to leave Battle School, accompanied by Anderson and Graff. Anderson has been promoted from Major to Colonel in the IF. Graff says that Ender... (full context)
Love, Empathy, and Destruction Theme Icon
Morality and Survival Theme Icon
Control, Manipulation, and Authority Theme Icon
...that’s occurred in Battle School: Bonzo Madrid’s death in the showers. Anderson tells Imbu that Graff has been summoned by the Polemarch, possibly to be court-martialed for endangering Ender’s life. Anderson... (full context)
Chapter 13: Valentine
Leadership Theme Icon
Control, Manipulation, and Authority Theme Icon
One day Valentine finds Graff waiting for her at school. He explains that Valentine must come with him to visit... (full context)
Love, Empathy, and Destruction Theme Icon
Morality and Survival Theme Icon
Leadership Theme Icon
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
Valentine and Graff arrive in Florida, where Graff takes Valentine to a beautiful lake. Valentine runs down to... (full context)
Love, Empathy, and Destruction Theme Icon
Morality and Survival Theme Icon
Control, Manipulation, and Authority Theme Icon
...this she walks away, and travels back to Greensboro. Ender leaves the lake, and finds Graff waiting for him. He accuses Graff of using Valentine to manipulate him into returning to... (full context)
Love, Empathy, and Destruction Theme Icon
Morality and Survival Theme Icon
Control, Manipulation, and Authority Theme Icon
Ender and Graff leave the Earth after Ender has been there for three months. Graff informs Ender that... (full context)
Love, Empathy, and Destruction Theme Icon
Morality and Survival Theme Icon
Leadership Theme Icon
Control, Manipulation, and Authority Theme Icon
For the next three months, Ender and Graff travel to Eros on their ship. They spend long chunks of time talking about the... (full context)
Love, Empathy, and Destruction Theme Icon
Games, Computers, and Virtual Reality Theme Icon
Morality and Survival Theme Icon
Leadership Theme Icon
Control, Manipulation, and Authority Theme Icon
Ender asks Graff other questions about the Buggers. He wants to know if the Buggers are sending a... (full context)
Love, Empathy, and Destruction Theme Icon
Games, Computers, and Virtual Reality Theme Icon
Morality and Survival Theme Icon
Control, Manipulation, and Authority Theme Icon
Ender asks Graff, point-blank, why humans are fighting the Buggers. Graff offers various reasons: because the Buggers need... (full context)
Chapter 14: Ender’s Teacher
Morality and Survival Theme Icon
Leadership Theme Icon
Control, Manipulation, and Authority Theme Icon
The chapter opens with Graff—just arrived at Eros—talking to the director of Command School, Admiral Chamrajnagar. Graff tells the Admiral... (full context)
Games, Computers, and Virtual Reality Theme Icon
Morality and Survival Theme Icon
Leadership Theme Icon
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
Control, Manipulation, and Authority Theme Icon
...to go to class—he receives private lessons from the school’s professors. He eats with Colonel Graff, and has no other contacts. He decides to devote his free time to studying topics... (full context)
Morality and Survival Theme Icon
Leadership Theme Icon
...an invalid, or if he’s mentally ill. Ender decides to do his daily exercises until Graff arrives in his quarters. This is a mistake: while Ender is doing pushups, the old... (full context)
Love, Empathy, and Destruction Theme Icon
Games, Computers, and Virtual Reality Theme Icon
Control, Manipulation, and Authority Theme Icon
...of which are kind and fatherly, and others that are harsher. He thinks he hears Graff and Mazer talking about him, with Graff arguing that Mazer should go easy on Ender.... (full context)
Love, Empathy, and Destruction Theme Icon
Games, Computers, and Virtual Reality Theme Icon
Morality and Survival Theme Icon
Leadership Theme Icon
Control, Manipulation, and Authority Theme Icon
...waiting for him, as usual. He walks out of his bedroom and sees Mazer and Graff waiting for him, along with a group of men dressed in civilian clothes. Mazer explains... (full context)
Love, Empathy, and Destruction Theme Icon
Games, Computers, and Virtual Reality Theme Icon
Morality and Survival Theme Icon
Leadership Theme Icon
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
Control, Manipulation, and Authority Theme Icon
...watching him is cheering. He’s surprised: he’d expected to be chewed out by Mazer and Graff for losing so many of his own ships and “bending” the rules of his game.... (full context)
Love, Empathy, and Destruction Theme Icon
Games, Computers, and Virtual Reality Theme Icon
Morality and Survival Theme Icon
Leadership Theme Icon
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
Control, Manipulation, and Authority Theme Icon
Ender wakes up to find Graff and Mazer standing over him. Graff informs Ender that news of his victory over the... (full context)
Love, Empathy, and Destruction Theme Icon
Games, Computers, and Virtual Reality Theme Icon
Morality and Survival Theme Icon
Leadership Theme Icon
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
Control, Manipulation, and Authority Theme Icon
Graff then gives Ender some important information: as soon as news of the victory over the... (full context)
Chapter 15: Speaker for the Dead
Love, Empathy, and Destruction Theme Icon
Morality and Survival Theme Icon
Leadership Theme Icon
Control, Manipulation, and Authority Theme Icon
The final chapter begins with a conversation between Graff and Anderson. Graff has recently been court-martialed for his manipulations of Ender. The court showed... (full context)
Love, Empathy, and Destruction Theme Icon
Games, Computers, and Virtual Reality Theme Icon
Leadership Theme Icon
Control, Manipulation, and Authority Theme Icon
Graff and Anderson talk about Ender’s future. Graff tells Anderson that Locke and Demosthenes have arranged... (full context)