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ENDER'S GAME STUDY GUIDE
THEMES - THEME ANALYSIS
Children versus Adults
Ender sees this as the major conflict; once the adults tarnish his memory of Valentine and force him to fight with Bonzo, he is set on beating the teachers. Although in the end it could be seen that the adults win since they trick Ender into destroying the buggers, Ender is able to fight back in his own way by finding the hive queen somewhere to live again. Card presents the two sides in a non-traditional manner, by having the adults talk about how they do not know what to do and the children as capable of handling themselves. It is the children who act like history, who save the world from what is seen as the bugger threat and from falling into war when the buggers are gone, and it is a child who seems to be the only one who recognizes the magnitude of the murders he has committed under the adultsí control. The lesson seems to be that ability and intelligence are traits that can come at a variety of ages and sizes.
The problems between the adults and children could be more largely applied to one of intimidation by size. Not only is Ender often picked on for his small size, as are the other boys, but the buggers are compared to ants, creatures that humans often disregard.
Good versus Evil
The line between good and evil, as portrayed through Ender and Peter respectively, becomes less and less distinct as the novel goes on. The fantasy game shows Peterís face instead of Enderís reflection in the mirror, Ender kills a wasp that just idly lands on the raft, and Peter puts forth a proposal that prevents further war. As Valentine and Ender comment, it is unexpected that in the end Peter has saved lives, while Ender has killed billions. This ultimately seems to suggest that there is some of both good and evil in everyone.
Games versus Reality
All is not as it seems. Again, this theme returns to adults as untrustworthy, as what Ender believed to be a simulation, turned out to be a real battle. The battles between armies at Battle School also come into this category, as they become central to the childrenís lives. As Dink points out, it can drive them crazy when the pressure is put on them to behave in these situations in a way that they are not in reality. Furthermore, the fantasy game that Ender plays often overlaps into his real life, as when it puts in the photo of Peter or when it affects his mental state through his dreams. The buggers building a landscape imitating the scenes brings the game and reality together once more, by using the game to make a species alive again, through Enderís promise when he finds the hive queen.
Love and Destruction
To Ender, these two things come at the same time, and he does not see how it could be any other way; the moment he understands an enemy enough to destroy them, he loves them. Because of this, he is able to feel regret over the pain he has caused and, eventually, attempt to make things better between humans and buggers. His job as Speaker for the Dead involves both aspects-when someone dies, he tells their true story, so that others can learn to love them by becoming closer. Since these two ideas are never far from each other in the story, it leaves the reader to believe as Ender does, that love and destruction come together.
Revenge/ Deceit / Manipulation
The novel warns strongly against such behavior, showing what can happen to those who become caught up in it. Bonzo is the main character who tries to get revenge, and ends up dead. Humans as well are going for a kind of revenge against the buggers, and the result is their destruction of a species, on a misunderstanding. Although Ender does not deceive and manipulate, he is a victim of both, and it has quite a negative effect on his mental health. It is only when the truth is learned, when Ender hears from the hive queen what really happened during those battles, that things are able to move forward. He writes the book The Hive Queen and promises to find her a new place to start her species, beginning the reconciliation between the buggers and the humans.
The rising action is what takes place at Battle School before Ender is transferred to Command School. This includes his troubles with the fantasy game, the struggle to learn new skills (whether it be as an army, with his Launchies, or coming up with new ideas), and the fight with Bonzo. Back on Earth, Peter and Valentine gain respect and power as Locke and Demosthenes. Together, the events establish the characters and set up events for the battle with the buggers.
The falling action begins after Ender is told that the battle was real, that he has killed the buggers, and then he goes to sleep. Peter comes into power on Earth, and rules with little further comment on the matter while Valentine and Ender go to the first colony on a previous bugger world. Ender finds the hive queen and promises to find her a place to live again. The novel ends with Ender and Valentine in search of such a place. The falling action provides closure and sets up events for the sequel.
POINT OF VIEW
The novel is told from the third person point of view, which is effective in a number of ways. By switching focus between Ender and Valentine, Card is able to have two plots going on at once, and combine them at the end. It also ensures that Earth remains a setting, and Peter and Valentine, both major influences on Ender, are still central to the story. Having third person perspective at the beginning of the chapters when the (often unnamed) adult characters converse, allows the reader insight into the manipulation of Ender, thus establishing the adults as untrustworthy and Ender as a kind of innocent pawn. Finally, information on the buggers is minimized until the end when they tell their story through Ender, so that the reader is in the similar situation to the characters. We are led to see them as an enemy (for the most part), and only learn more about them until Ender himself does.Table of Contents | Message Board | Downloadable/Printable Version