Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card

Ender’s Game, a novel written by Orson Scott Card, Follows the story of a young genius. The story is set in a future time after an alien invasion by the ‘Buggers.’ Ender Wiggen, the main protagonist, is born as a ‘third’ which means he receives ridicule from his pairs for being a third born child. This is because on Earth there is law against having more than two children. Ender is chosen to be  a part of a program in which they training up military leaders from a very young age. Ender is chosen not just to be a leader, but to be the general of the inter-planetary fleet, not that he knows it yet. This program is put in place so that humans could take the fight to the buggers, instead of waiting for their 3rd invasion. Most of the book is set in a space station orbiting Earth which is called ‘Battle School.’ The school is centred around a game called the battle room. This is a null-gravity game designed to allow the children gain leadership skills leading armies of 40 students. Sufficient to say that Ender exceeds expectations…

Ender faces trials in the form of bullies in this novel. His older brother Peter torments Ender as he is jealous that Ender keeps his monitor longer. The monitor is how the teachers of the battle school see if the child is right for the program; the monitor lets them see through their eyes and listen through their ears. Peter liked to play a game called Buggers and Astronauts which would involve Ender being a bugger with Peter being the astronaut. The astronaut would be allowed to harm the bugger in any way he pleased, because the buggers were the bad guys. The only one to break these fights was Ender’s older sister Valentine, “‘I’ll tell,’ Valentine said from the doorway.” Ender had to face two other bullies in the text, Stilson and Bonzo. Stilson he faught on Earth because he was jealous of Ender’s genius. Bonzo he faught on the battle school space station for the same reason. They both came at Ender with a gang, but Ender called them out for fighting one on one. Ender won both fights against bigger opponents by outsmarting them. Ender’s struggle relates to the real world as there are always people who feel like they are above others. No matter where you are on the world timeline there have always been bullies. There will never stop being bullies as there’s always things that people will be jealous about; people will always have things going on in their lives, which they take out on others as a form of catharsis. I have had tormentors in my life before, but I usually find a way to make it right with whoever is displeased with me. Either that or I’ve just ignored them till they got bored, it’s quite funny watching people struggle when they have no power over you. Never have I had anything as severe as Enders’ situations, so I’m not sure how I would act if I found myself in his position. The teachers didn’t help Ender with the issues they let him fight his battles himself. “He can never come to believe that anybody will ever help him out, ever.  If he once thinks there’s an easy way out, he’s wrecked.” Letting Ender fight the battle’s himself stopped the bullies from tormenting him, if the teachers stepped in he might never have reached his full potential. Teachers may be able to cause a temporary end to a fight, but they cannot take away the reason for the bullying.  In my opinion teacher intervention may even make bullying situations worse, as it can give the bully more ways to poke fun. However, if the bullying is a physical thing which maybe be dangerous to the person getting bullied something will have to be done. In this case the two parties will have to be removed from each other, depending on the severity. By removed I mean moved class, moved schools or even moved towns anything to stop them interacting. 

All through Ender’s journey he has expectations put on him to succeed. The first expectation, which was placed upon him as a 6 year old, before he has done anything spectacular, was the biggest. “I’ve watched through his eyes, I’ve listened through his ears, and I tell you he’s the one.” The expectation was that he would be the one to lead the interplanetary fleet; he would be the one to take the fight to the buggers. International Fleet (I.F) leaders were putting all the fate of the human race onto a child, not even knowing what his capabilities would turn out to be. The next expectations were when he was promoted to be a commander in battle school. Since Ender was the one to become ‘the one,’ he was promoted much earlier than the rest of his year group (age 9 when usually and learns how to command the fleet. He has a lot more pressure on him during this time then he knows at the time. He is not told that the simulations used for training are actually ‘the real deal’ and that he is fighting the battles in real life. All these expectations have a negative effect on Enders state of mind. They put a constant burden on his back, this makes him want to give up and also pushes him to fatigue at multiple points. One would argue that the pressure placed on him brought out the best and brightest in him, which I think is true. However, Ender’s brilliance and fulfillment of the expectations came at a cost to his social life. He even loses all his friendships, to just being their commanding officer. I can relate to the pressure of fulfilling expectations, though the expectations are usually from myself. I have been taught that hard work will get me the where I want to be whether it be in school or sport, or music. There have been many times when I have had to turned down my friends for a chance to hangout, preferring to complete a project. However brainy Ender was, humans still need to interact with each other; interaction needs to be part of life.

Another challenge Ender faces, is that he doesn’t get to make many friends or the moment he does he is moved and loses them. This is due to the fact that Ender is being isolated by the battle school coordinators in an effort to bring out his creativity. “Graff had isolated Ender to make him struggle. To make him prove, not that he was competent, but that he was far better than everyone else.” They first isolated Ender by making everyone dislike him, then he had to win their appreciation by being the best. When he moved to command school they isolated him in a different way, “this time not by setting the other students into hating him, but rather by giving them no opportunity to become friends.” Ender never saw a face twice, never had the same teacher or student helping him. This made Ender ‘withdraw to his studies’ learning quickly and thoroughly, exactly what was expected. I can’t imagine the toll which the loneliness would have put on Ender; I don’t think it is good for anythe best. When he moved to command school they isolated him in a different way, “this time not by setting the other students into hating him, but rather by giving them no opportunity to become friends.” Ender never saw a face twice, never had the same teacher or student helping him. This made Ender ‘withdraw to his studies’ learning quickly and thoroughly, exactly what was expected. I can’t imagine the toll which the loneliness would have put on Ender; I don’t think it is good for anyone to be separated from other humans the way Ender was.  Loneliness can lead to social and communication struggles in one’s life. Loneliness for Ender has the effect that makes him very submissive to people’s manipulation. I do believe, however, that isolating him brought out his highest capabilities, as he had nothing to distract him from his study. In the 1600’s Isaac Newton wrote all the modern day laws of physics and calculus while being isolated in his home, during the days of the bubonic plague. I know that collaboration with our pairs does induce creativity, but I don’t believe it beats the creativity that can spout from having a good ‘ol’ think. Enders isolation reminds me of ‘The Maze Runner’ a book written by James Dashner. In this book a bunch of teenage boys are isolated in a giant maze and have to figure a way out. This is so they can measure their brain activity to find a cure to disease. Isolation can bring out our brains’ best capabilities, but it will never help us to develop socially. I could come up with the most brilliant physics discovery, but if I don’t know how to make friends and communicate, what’s the point.

One Reply to “Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card”

  1. Billy, there are a number of good aspects to this response. Your written expression is interesting and you discuss the textual details with specific evidence. Your personal connections to the text are also good, however the final lines of your points seem slightly under-developed in places. Look at this: have you fully clarified the point that you are making about the text or a cross-referenced text? You don’t need to extend these lines for too long, you just need to complete them 🙂 Also, have a final read through the response out loud for accuracy (grammar, punctuation etc.): technical accuracy assists the clarity of the ideas overall.

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