The whole saga is based on the powers of Ender in dealing with relationships, influencing people to better them and how much of an impact Ender has on people(supreme commander and all).

That's the thing that makes him the best commander of humankind, and throughout the book he has changed the lives of a lot of people and that is indeed shown in Speaker for the Dead.

When he came he stirred things up pretty fast and made a huge impact in that community and with Novinha's family. But then he stays and marries her, and flash forward to the future and Grego and Quara are still kind of dicks and Ela too sometimes.

Novinha certainly is still a very cold broken woman, and although Quim and Ender have a relationship of mutual respect it's still not great. The one that he has had an impact is Miro of course and Olhado.

But in general they are still a fractured and disfunctional family, so how come people's lives are greatly changed by just a few moments with Ender, but a family with a lot of years (even a lifetime) of living with him are still basically the same?

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    enders changes tend to be redirection in life. or to overcome something. he got the family out of a dark place, from completely non-functioning to a functioning family. But at the end of the day, they all are still mentally and emotionally scared, and that kind of change may never go away. this is really just a psychology question though, after 12-18 years of abuse how much can you really fix. – Himarm Sep 22 '14 at 14:09
  • But they are not a functioning family. At one point they don't even talk to each other. Shouldn't he had been able to change their lives overcoming that part of their nature? – Sismetic Sep 22 '14 at 14:29
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    they went from sitting at home doing nothing, to all going out into the world getting jobs having lives, despite the fact they were still assholes you can only do so much. he never really makes people different, he just gets people to act, or finds a way to use them, and ender himself doesnt really know what a real family should be, he was 12 when he left home, a home where he was miss treated (by peter) and then went to live with 100s of violet boys and girls learning to exterminate a race. he doesn't have the subtly or knowledge for a perfect family. – Himarm Sep 22 '14 at 14:35
  • Maybe they spent enough time with him to realise that his Orson Scott Card armchair psychology isn't actually all that good? – James Sheridan Sep 23 '14 at 0:36

I just wanted to point out a few things:

  • You said that Miro and Olhado were the only ones he had an impact on, but Quara, I would also argue, used to almost never speak, but with Ender's coming she suddenly came alive.
  • Face it, every story needs some sort of conflict. If Ender's family didn't have problems, they would be much less interesting characters and the plot itself would also be less interesting. Also, if internal family conflicts didn't exist in the book, Ender's family could be less believable as people. (I mean, who hasn't been angry at their siblings every once in a while?)
  • Ender still acts as the glue that binds the family together. People come to him to make things happen and when he finally withdraws in Children of the Mind many people feel lost without him.
  • Novinha, despite her bitterness, clicked with Ender in a way she had with no other person, finding happiness and life in him. She said to Ender:

No matter how much I loved Libo he was never for one day as alive as you are in every minute...I found myself loving an adult for the first time when I loved you...I have missed you more than I miss even my children, even my grandparents, even the lost loves of my life. -Novinha, Children of the Mind, 40-41

According to this quote, Novinha loves Ender even more than Libo: Isn't that alone enough to show that Ender worked a change in Novinha's life?

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