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ENDER'S GAME FREE ONLINE STUDY GUIDE
CHAPTER SUMMARIES WITH NOTES / ANALYSIS
CHAPTER ONE: Third
The book starts off with two unnamed people discussing the test results of three siblings. Though one brother and a sister have already proved inadequate for the mysterious people’s purposes, the younger brother is still a question. While one of the people feels that the boy can be too easily subdued to others’ wills, the first speaker feels that he is the one they need and that this weakness of malleability can be overcome by keeping him in the presence of enemies always. This seems cruel, but the two people decide it is acceptable, since it not only pales in comparison to what the buggers would do, but it also is saving the world. The buggers, and what it all has to do with saving the world, are explained later.
After this brief conversation, the chapter shifts focus to six-year-old Andrew Wiggin, also known as Ender. He is getting the monitor, which has been on him for three years, removed. Although Ender hopes that this will allow him to be brothers with Peter, who treats him poorly and calls him “Third”, he realizes that this cruelty in Peter makes such a change unlikely. The removal of the monitor hurts (as he expected it would, since the adult said it would not), and, as his body spasms, the nurse and doctor have to struggle to hold him and give him medicine. The doctor is shook up and agitated after this, saying that by leaving the monitor in for so long, its removal could have killed Ender.
However, Ender recovers and returns to class, dazed and with the sense that something is missing, a sensation which the doctor warns him will occur; it is the monitor Ender is missing. Since Valentine, his older sister, had taught him math when he was three, Ender is free to ignore the lesson, playing on his desk instead, which he knows he can get away with. A message-the word “Third”- is sent to him, meant as an insult. It refers to the number of children in his family; more than two is considered socially unacceptable. He was only allowed by the government to be born and schooled as an experiment, of which the monitor was a part of. Its removal is supposed to signal that Ender, along with all the other children who no longer have them, is not the child the government is looking for, and Ender imagines they would just as soon they had never let him be born at all.
When Ender sees the word though, he smiles. He was the one who had realized how to use the desks to send the messages and have them march around, so while it was an insult, the imitation of his methods is also a compliment. Once school lets out though, the abuse becomes more physical. Stilson, a bigger boy, wait for him and start pushing him around. Ender does nothing at first but then realizes he has few options; with the monitor gone, help was not likely to come.
Ender asks if it takes so many to fight him and when the other boys let go of him, he quickly kicks Stilson just above the chest and he drops. The other boys stand in shock, wondering if Stilson is dead. Ender, though he realizes it is against the rules of fighting, also knows that he must win the fight for good then or they will come after him again. So Ender just keeps on kicking the bleeding and helpless Stilson. He gives a warning to others and walks away.
Ender turns a corner, puts his head against a wall, and cries. In beating up Stilson, he has showed a side of himself that is just like Peter.
It is not until the sequel to Ender’s Game, Speaker for the Dead, that Ender’s name is explained. When his sister Valentine was young, she was unable to correctly pronounce Andrew, saying it like Ender. The meaning of the nickname can be seen better later in the book, but the general drift is that Ender puts an end to things. He did not, for example, let the fight with Stilson and the other boys be resumed later; he took it to the most extreme that he could to be sure that it was over for good.
This chapter introduces the reader to a technique that will be used throughout the book. Card begins chapters with these two seemingly omniscient beings conversing, then returns to the narrative from Ender’s point of view. This creates a contrast between Ender as a child with limited control and knowledge over his surroundings, and the two people who are manipulating and observing events. For example, the first discussion ends with talk of saving the world; the next scene has Ender overwhelmed with pain.
Two major themes are also presented, one is that of being different. Not only is Ender separated from the other kids by being a Third, but also by having the monitor for so long. Both characteristics have singled him out at school and at home. When Ender first returns to the classroom, he thinks Stilson’s name is Peter and the two are alike in that they both pick on him. However, Ender reacts to them differently; whereas Stilson drives him to animal-like behavior, the thought of Peter has a kind of controlling influence, since Ender fears so much that he will become him.
This leads to the second theme. Unlike in most literature, youth is not presented as innocence. Ender fought beyond the boundaries of what could be accepted in a civilized world, and knew it. As will continue to be proved by later events, childhood is not protected from the cruelties and brutalities of life.Table of Contents | Message Board | Downloadable/Printable Version