Ender’s Game

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The legendary military commander and pilot who is celebrated on Earth for defeating the Buggers (though exactly how he did so isn’t common knowledge) seventy years before the novel begins. Mazer Rackham travels at extremely high speeds to slow his aging process—as a result, he appears before Ender as a middle-aged man, and serves as Ender’s teacher at Command School. Mazer pushes Ender harder than anyone else in the novel, including Colonel Graff, and seems to believe in defeating the Buggers at all costs—even if it means Ender losing his sanity. (Mazer’s first name even suggests the half-physical, half-mental challenges he places in Ender’s way.) In spite of his callous beliefs, Mazer is an intelligent and perceptive man, and his insights into Bugger psychology are invaluable in influencing Ender to first defeat the Buggers and then nurture them back into existence.

Mazer Rakham Quotes in Ender’s Game

The Ender’s Game quotes below are all either spoken by Mazer Rakham or refer to Mazer Rakham . 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 14 Quotes

“I surprised you once, Ender Wiggin, Why didn’t you destroy me immediately afterward? Just because I looked peaceful? You turned your back on me. Stupid. You have learned nothing. You have never had a teacher.”

Related Characters: Mazer Rakham (speaker), Andrew “Ender” Wiggin
Page Number: 262
Explanation and Analysis:

In this scene, Ender meets his new mentor, Mazer Rackham, the legendary pilot who defeated a Bugger invasion years before. Mazer poses as a demented, harmless old man. He lashes out at Ender once, but before Ender can retaliate, he assumes a harmless position on the floor. Ender is too sympathetic to attack Mazer while he's sitting on the floor—his natural compassion takes over. But when Ender isn't paying attention, Mazer attacks him again—much harder—and then chastises him for being foolish enough not to hit Mazer when he had the chance.

Mazer's actions are intended as a metaphor for the Bugger invasion: the Bugger attacked humanity once, but didn't succeed in destroying it altogether. While some people doubt that it's worthwhile to attack the Buggers when they're not an immediate threat to Earth, Mazer insists otherwise: humans must exterminate the Buggers, just as Ender should have attacked Mazer when he was on the floor.

In a broader sense, Mazer's lesson for Ender signals that Ender is about to have his last drops of compassion and sympathy beaten out of him. In the past, Ender has attacked opponents when they're already hurt. But even Ender refuses to hurt a weak-looking old man—he's not a monster. Mazer will push Ender to be brutal at all costs, for the sake of humanity. Mazer's lesson also reminds Ender of what he's known all along: his teachers are his enemies, hurting him and reshaping him into a monster so that he can win their war for them.

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Forget it, Mazer. I don’t care if I pass your test, I don’t care if I follow your rules, if you can cheat, so can I. I won’t let you beat me unfairly—I’ll beat you unfairly first.
In that final battle in Battle School, he had won by ignoring the enemy, ignoring his own losses; he had moved against the enemy’s gate.
And the enemy’s gate was down.

Related Characters: Andrew “Ender” Wiggin (speaker), Mazer Rakham
Related Symbols: The Battleroom
Page Number: 293
Explanation and Analysis:

In the novel's climactic scene, Ender faces an opponent (which he believes to be a computer simulation) more dangerous than any he's ever seen. Badly outnumbered, Ender isn't sure how to react. After a moment's thought, he decides to "cut the Gordian knot" once again. Ender decides to "win" the game by breaking the rules; sacrificing huge chunks of his own army in order to exterminate the Buggers at their source. Ender has the creativity to break the rules because he remembers the un-winnable battles he won in the Battle Room by breaking similar sets of rules.

The tragedy of Ender's decision is that he's willing to exterminate his opponents because he's convinced it's "just a game." In reality, though, the game is real. Thanks to Graffs' deceptions, Ender has been commanding real troops against a real enemy, and by winning the battle, he's won the Bugger War forever.

Ender's "victory" in this scene proves how well his education at Battle School has taught him to think of violence as a mere simulation. Although he's a uniquely compassionate, loving boy, he never has any qualms about sending troops to their deaths or murdering millions of Bugger opponents—but this is only possible because he's convinced that the game and the real world are separate, and that he's participating in the former.

In a broader sense, though, Ender's defeat of the Buggers illustrates how completely the IF commanders control him. After decades of running tests on their prized pupil, Graff and his colleagues know exactly how Ender's mind works. They know when he'll keep pushing, and when he'll crack under pressure. Ironically, "cracking under pressure" is exactly what Graff wants Ender to do in this scene:  Ender inadvertently exterminates the Buggers because he's sick of battle simulations, and wants a break.

Graff lies to Ender about the reality of the game for two reasons, one kind, one selfish. Graff wants to protect Ender from the guilt of consciously choosing to murder the Buggers—a decision that no single human being could possibly make. At the same time, Graff lies to Ender because he wants to make sure that Ender completes his assignment instead of compassionately refusing to commit mass murder. It's cowardly of Graff to place the burden of genocide on Ender's shoulders, and—as we'll soon see—the fact that Ender didn't know the game was real doesn't make him feel any less responsible.

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Mazer Rakham Character Timeline in Ender’s Game

The timeline below shows where the character Mazer Rakham 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
Control, Manipulation, and Authority Theme Icon
...ago, destroying large chunks of the world’s population. It was only because of the brilliant Mazer Rackham, Ender has been told, that humans were able to destroy the Buggers’ powerful enemy... (full context)
Chapter 4: Launch
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
...agree that they’ll need to educate Ender very carefully if he’s to become the next Mazer Rackham. The most important step, X suggests, will be “purging” Ender of his kindness and... (full context)
Chapter 8: Rat
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
...conversation with a disturbing possibility: it’s likely that the Buggers are already dead, killed by Mazer Rackham long ago. The governments of the world then manipulate their people using fear propaganda—in... (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
Control, Manipulation, and Authority Theme Icon
...his attention on learning new strategies for the battleroom. He researches old propaganda videos of Mazer Rackham defeating the Buggers. As he watches in more detail, it becomes increasingly clear that... (full context)
Chapter 14: Ender’s Teacher
Morality and Survival Theme Icon
Leadership Theme Icon
...military exercises. Ender asks the man if he has a name, and the man replies, “Mazer Rackham.” (full context)
Games, Computers, and Virtual Reality Theme Icon
Morality and Survival Theme Icon
Leadership Theme Icon
Control, Manipulation, and Authority Theme Icon
In the coming weeks, Ender spends his days learning strategy from Mazer. Every day Mazer programs battles for Ender on a simulation computer. Ender asks Mazer how... (full context)
Love, Empathy, and Destruction Theme Icon
Morality and Survival Theme Icon
Leadership Theme Icon
Control, Manipulation, and Authority Theme Icon
Ender asks Mazer the question he’s been considering for years: he wants to know how, exactly, Mazer defeated... (full context)
Morality and Survival Theme Icon
Control, Manipulation, and Authority Theme Icon
Mazer explains his new military strategies to Ender. The humans have invented a new weapon: 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
...of talented commanders, and they improvise with their assigned portions of the IF fleet. With Mazer’s direction, Ender learns to use his subordinates like a Bugger queen using her drones: whenever... (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 and his commanders begin a new military exercise against a computerized enemy programmed by Mazer Rackham, and every day the enemy is more challenging. Rackham warns Ender that he’s going... (full context)
Love, Empathy, and Destruction Theme Icon
Games, Computers, and Virtual Reality Theme Icon
Morality and Survival Theme Icon
Leadership Theme Icon
...his fleet: he never tries anything brilliant because he’s afraid of even the smallest losses. Mazer encourages Ender to try bolder strategies that involve sacrificing larger numbers of ships. (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
...push his commanders too far. As a result, he pushes himself even farther. One night Mazer wakes him up, and he notices that he’s been gnawing on his own hand. He... (full context)
Love, Empathy, and Destruction Theme Icon
Games, Computers, and Virtual Reality Theme Icon
Control, Manipulation, and Authority Theme Icon
...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. Mazer says... (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
...last in Command School, though he doesn’t know it. Ender wakes up and finds that Mazer isn’t waiting for him, as usual. He walks out of his bedroom and sees Mazer... (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
...of adults 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... (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 Buggers has... (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
...and he rolls over and closes his eyes. Instead of falling asleep, he listens to Mazer and Graff speak to each other. Graff tells Mazer that Mazer has pushed Ender too... (full context)