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QUESTION:

I've noticed that the Peter character in "Ender's Game", and the one in the "Shadow of the Hegemon" preview, he seems to have completely different personalities. In Game, he appears to be cruel, to an almost unusual extent, while in Hegemon, he does what he does to help Ender. I was wondering, is Peter just a normal older brother who likes to beat the younger one down, as is common in so many homes, and is portrayed in Hegemon, or is he abnormally cruel in his approach to others, and is this how you were attempting to depict him in "Ender's Game"?

-- Submitted by Brian Gandy

OSC REPLIES: - September 20, 2000

Remember that the Peter we saw in "Ender's Game" was the Peter who was conceived in the minds of his siblings. The Peter we see in "Shadow of the Hegemon" is older and more in control of himself, and we see his point of view, so that we get his self-justification for what he does. He puts the best spin on his own actions.

Think of how Bill Clinton sees himself -- the longsuffering victim of the enemies of his programs, rather than a self-indulgent liar who has bombed innocent people just to keep his own misdeeds off the front page. If you saw Clinton only through the eyes of, say, Peggy Noonan and Newt Gingrich, he would be evil personified; if you saw him through his own eyes, you would see the way he is completely justified in everything he does. Peter, like Clinton, conceives of himself as a beneficent ruler who only hurts people when it's necessary to get things done. He deceives himself about his own past misdeeds, giving himself credit for motives he didn't actually have. And yet ... I think that, unlike Clinton, there are things Peter wouldn't do in order to achieve his own advantage, and Peter clearly has more self-control and innate wisdom than Clinton. By the end of the fourth Shadow book, we'll have a pretty clear conception of what and who Peter Wiggin is ... but remember, Ender's second book was "The Hegemon," which had that same understanding of a man with a serious problem with ethics who nevertheless ended up doing good for good reasons. Since I'm not a genius like Ender Wiggin or a moral paragon like Valentine, Peter (and the real-world people who resemble him) give me some hope for myself ...

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