19 Jul 2009

Essays on Ender’s Game

Sometimes one becomes a hero simply doing what they always do.  The classic novel “Ender’s Game” is an excellent example of this.  It is, at its core, a novel about a young boy coming of age, but under extenuating circumstances that are hidden, even from those experiencing them.

In Ender’s Game, all is not well in the universe. An alien menace threatens all of mankind and only one little boy has what it takes to save us all. Ender Wiggin is the third son in a world where procreation has been strictly limited to only two children. An outcast from the moment of his birth, life was never easy for the boy, but being brilliant beyond measure never helps one blend in.

Ender’s siblings, Peter and Valentine mirror his potential but with different emotional states. Peter is a cold and calculating killer while Valentine is soft-hearted and kind. Peter and Valentine make up different ends of a dichotic spectrum, with Ender sitting right in the middle, and spend their time infiltrating the political world.

Orson Scott Card’s story of a young boy’s path from outcast to humanity’s savior is not a kind and gentle stroll through a grassy meadow. It is fortunate that young Ender is made of stern material. From the petty dispersions of “Third!” cast upon him by his classmates to the outright physical attacks he knows must suffer many things and rise above them, but he never understands why. At a time when most children are learning basic math, little Ender is recruited to head off to space to join the Battle School where children are turned into officers.

It is at the Battle School that boys are organized into “armies” and pit against one another in zero gravity combat. Ender quickly assumes command of one such army and leads them to victory after grueling victory – all in preparation for the coming war. At his peak, when he is undefeated, he is taken to a hidden asteroid where he is tossed into ever more complicated simulations against the alien menace. What is never said to him is that these last war games are not simulations at all. A twelve-year old boy is commanding the ships of earth in a great interstellar war against the bug queen.

  • In the story, the reasons for Ender’s rigorous training are, for the most part, hidden from him.  The fact that he is participating in combat training and ends up in actual command of a great fleet are presented to him as more of a high-end contest or game.  Consider the psychology involved and describe it.  Is it realistic?  Could our own government pull off such a feat?
  • Young Ender suffers a great deal of humiliation in his younger days at school.  Describe how this fact is used to develop the character into a realistic personality.  Are other characters in the story as well developed?  Why do you feel this is so?

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