This is topic Olhado in forum Discussions About Orson Scott Card at Hatrack River Forum.

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Posted by CalvinandThomasHobbes (Member # 9158) on :
Most people choose Ender, or Jane, as their favorite character. I agree. But as I was reading Xenocide for the tenth time, I started to take interest in Olhado. Throughout the whole story he has been under the radar. When Valentine has the conversation with him in Xenocide it reveals he is just a family man. His whole family plays important roles. They are all striving for greatness in one way or another. But he is satisfied playing an unimportant role. I enjoy the fact that Card put a person in the story who is just along for the ride. I think more writers should include characters that are important to the story in their own way. They take more of a passive approach to affecting the plot. Does anyone agree?
Posted by Jimbo the Clown (Member # 9251) on :
As a writer myself, I agree with the use of Olhado. I personally loved the 'guy with the eyes'. I prefered him in Speaker for the Dead over Xenocide, though. It seemed more appropriate somehow for him to be alone in a corner, misunderstood. *Grin* I especially loved the part where he tells everyone he never turned of his eyes when Marcao was beating Novinha. I could just imagine the looks on the siblings' faces.
Posted by oolung (Member # 8995) on :
I think Olhado was from the beginning the one person in Novinha's family that could be called 'normal'. When Ender shows up, he's the only one who doesn't treat him as some kind of enemy or danger, he acts normally. And eventually, he alone of all the children grows up to form a healthy relationship (throughout the novel, I'm not talking about Miro later falling in love with Jane/Val).

Maybe his eyes gave him, in a way, a power to shield himself from the violence he saw as a child, even though he didn't avert his eyes.
Maybe he, as all the others, sam himself as an observer, and that enabled him to look at the whole situation as an outsider: he didn't participate in it, so it didn't affect him, didn't traumatise him as it did the others. If he was the outsider in Novinha's family, then that's precisely because of his ability to go on being 'normal'.
Posted by CalvinandThomasHobbes (Member # 9158) on :
well said.
Posted by Scott R (Member # 567) on :
But he is satisfied playing an unimportant role.
Well... I doubt Olhado would say he's playing an unimportant role. Olhado never had the pull toward science that his other siblings felt-- that doesn't mean he happily went on to oblivion.


I enjoy the fact that Card put a person in the story who is just along for the ride.

Olhado wasn't 'just along for the ride.' He needed Valentine to point out how much his brothers and sisters needed him; how much Lusitania needed him. It was his influence on Gregor that spurred Gregor to come up with a way to bypass the speed of light.


I think more writers should include characters that are important to the story in their own way. They take more of a passive approach to affecting the plot. Does anyone agree? long as most of the characters aren't 'passive.' I prefer to think of Olhado as normal rather than passive though.
Posted by vonk (Member # 9027) on :
I really like Olhado too, because he may have suffered the most actual pain as a child, but turned out the best. i just finished reading the scene in CotM where Olhado is taking his children out to have a picnic with the pequeninos. i really love the fact that he saw what was wrong with the way his son reacted to the piggies and took positive active steps to correct that opinion. as oposed to the bishop who made everyone do penance for their sin. i think that is a very important quality in every person and Card made a perfect example of it in Olhado.
Posted by Scott R (Member # 567) on :
Vonk, the Bishop's actions were not characterized as wrong in Xenocide. Indeed, I saw them as being portrayed in a very positive light. I don't really remember any steps that Olhado took to correct his son.
Posted by Synesthesia (Member # 4774) on :
Olhado was cool.
A wise awesome man who sees everything and records it.
And he cared about his family.
Posted by JennaDean (Member # 8816) on :
Olhado was my favorite because he viewed his job as a means to an end (supporting his family), rather than the most important thing in his life. His family, the people he cared about, were more important to him than his career or science.

Of course those things were important too, because they were necessary to the survival of the community; but I always admired Olhado for doing everything in his power to make a happy family, when he came from such an unhappy one. I admired his priorities. Everything he did was focused on his family. He worked just enough to support them, not trying to be the most important or most successful at his job, not worried about the fact that others thought he was less ambitious or less successful or less intelligent than his siblings. He just did what he had to do to support his family and still spend as much time with them and attention on them as possible.
Posted by vonk (Member # 9027) on :
scott - i wasn't trying to insinuate that penance was not a good or favorable response. i agree that it is and was shown to be in the book. but there was a scene in CotM where Olhado took his children to the forest to have a picnic with the pequeninos. he said that when he saw the way that his son reacted, re realized that he hadn't done enough to raise them to be tolerant, and would now make sure that they would never do harm to a pequenino again. i thought that this went above and behond what the rest of Milagre did, as they did repent, and that is good, but they still did not completely accept the pequeninos.

[ March 16, 2006, 11:30 AM: Message edited by: vonk ]
Posted by El JT de Spang (Member # 7742) on :
Olhado never had the pull toward science that his other siblings felt
It's not that he didn't have the desire, or the aptitude, for science that his siblings had. It's that he valued his family more than his career. He'd seen what science had cost his mother, his real father, Marcao, and his siblings, and he didn't want to end up like that.

Olhado is the character in the whole Ender series that most reminds me of OSC -- he knows that creating and maintaining a happy family is the most important thing any two people can do.
Posted by Orson Scott Card (Member # 209) on :
Oolung - right on.

Those who raise their families and are happy doing so, and whose careers are merely a means to that end, are usually (in my observation) the happiest people. It's the ambitious ones or the ones who can't stay at home and love people who wind up frustrated or lonely. with, of course, exceptions - as when the homebody is married to someone less domesticated ...
Posted by I Am The War Chief (Member # 9266) on :
lol i geuss it ends the conversation when the author tells you exactly what he meant.
Posted by oolung (Member # 8995) on :
of course, the tragedy here is that no one chooses to be like this or like that: our experiences influence the way we turn out later in our lives, but it's not only about them. So maybe Olhado's past helped him to see that 'hey, everyone else is sooo happy thanks to their scientific careers, but no thanks, I'll try something else' - but the others, having similar experiences, wouldn't have been able to make Olhado's choice. They might have realised it was the best way to gain personal happiness, but would they be able to give up on science, on their ambitions?
How many of us can rationally think 'maybe achieving this goal isn't worth my peace of mind' but still act as if it was? Our minds are not always compatible with our emotions. Olhado was lucky in that he was able to see the right choice AND he was emotionally able to able to make it: it wasn't in conflict with who he was. Imagine Miro making such a choice - impossible!

Then of course there's the other question: if Olhado's choice WAS really the right one. He was as intelligent as the rest, and yet he has chosen his own personal happiness over the possible discoveries or whatever he might have done to help his community. The rest, however, apart from their traumatic past, had also a 'mission': they tried to understand some things, to create some things to make the life on Lusitania better for everyone, and that's what they devoted their lives to.

(It's just a possible way to look at it, although it's not my personal opinion. It's just to get the thread going [Smile] )
Posted by Frangy. (Member # 6794) on :
Olhado is totally different from other characters. One of my favorites fragments of the book is a dialogue that he as with Valentine.

Translated by me, I'm sorry if it doesn't look like the original one

[-Then the secret that you guard of your tormented brothers is... the happiness.
-Peace, beauty, love. All the big abstractions. Maybe I see in low relief, but I see them closely together
-And did you light it of Andrew? He knows it?
-I think yes. Do you want to know my best guarded secret? When we are alone, only he and I, or the two with Lini. When we are alone, I call him dad and he call me son.

Valentine did not do any for containing her tears, as if she was spilling the half for him and the half for her.
-So, Ender has children after everything.]
Posted by Althai (Member # 9275) on :
I don't see why there should be a choice between science and a happy family life. It should be possible to dedicate oneself to ones family and still have a career more interesting than "brickmaker" (or maker of brickmakers, or maker of brickmaker fatigue [Razz] ). I think the fact that Olhado was a brickmaker had less to do with the fact that he had chosen to dedicate himself to his family rather than science, and more to do with OSC wanting to highlight that fact; he could have been a scientist or philosopher dedicated more to family than work, but giving him an uninteresting job made it more obvious to the reader where Olhado's priorities lay.

As for how he got these priorities - while it's possible that his eyes may have helped distance him from his family, I don't think that's the case. I think when he was saying his eyes were always on, he was showing that he never distanced himself from the family. All of the children had their own reactions, but they were all part of the family, and greatly affected by Novinha's and Marcao's behaviors. It was actually Olhado's participation in the family that made him value family so much, because it was from Ender (to Olhado, "Papa") that he drew his inspiration.

BTW, Frangy, here is the original in English (Ch. 15, p. 449 in my version):

"So the secret you protect from your tormented siblings is--happiness."
"Peace. Beauty. Love. All the great abstractions. I may see them in bas-relief, but I see them up close."
"And you learned it from Andrew. Does he know?"
"I think so," said Olhado. "Do you want to know my most closely guarded secret? When we're alone together, just him and me, or me and Lini and him--when we're alone, I call him Papa, and he calls me Son."

Posted by Scott R (Member # 567) on :
It should be possible to dedicate oneself to ones family and still have a career more interesting than "brickmaker" (or maker of brickmakers, or maker of brickmaker fatigue.
I thought I remembered reading that Olhado was the manager at the brickworks.

In any case-- what's uninteresting about making bricks? I cannot imagine the tedium of staring through a microscope day after day, hours on end. Talk about uninteresting.
Posted by TomDavidson (Member # 124) on :
What if the microscope were pointed at bricks?
Posted by Oobie Binoobie (Member # 8059) on :
In _Xenocide_, Card wrote him as too modest; Olhado's role in the community was *more* important than Ender's, or Novinha's, or anyone's, for that matter, even in times of great crisis. His circumstance is the thing they're preserving by doing the heroic things they do.

I personally have a life very similar to Olhado's. My family is my great joy. The work I do to provide for them is secondary to that, as much as it can be. And when you boil down the work of men to their core, one kind of work is not more important than another. We may need bright scientists and able educated lawyers and clergy, but we also need those brickmakers very badly. Choosing to go that route with one's life is never worth contempt.
Posted by scholar (Member # 9232) on :
I am a grad student and am in the minority. I have decided that my family is more important to me, so I don't work every hour of every day. I know that I will never be as successful as my fellow grad students, but I figure that I will have a successful family and happiness and that means more than lots of grant money. My boss chose work and when I see his life, I am glad I am not following that path. (And irony, changing career paths to something more understanding of family may actually end in a higher paying job).
Posted by opiejudy (Member # 9301) on :
In our family we find nothing more fulfilling or more important than our marriage and our children. For that we make sacrifices. I work from home and make what probably amounts to significantly less money than my degree would afford me if I were to work at a more traditional office job. My husband works and he absolutely does not work under any circusmtances for any reason on Sundays as that is the day that he devotes to doing his children's bidding. Olhado knew the most important thing that he could do was to love and teach his children, in the end no matter who we are the most important contribution we will make to mankind is our children. Love them and raise them with that knowledge.

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