Free Study Guide for Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card-BookNotes

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“Ender” Wiggin is the protagonist, the main character, about whom the action revolves. The majority of the story is told as events occur to him, and all other characters have ties to him. While he must deal with his brother Peter, and concentrated fights with a few of the other boys (Stilson, Bernard, and Bonzo).


The buggers are seen as the overall antagonist-the character who stands in opposition to the protagonist. Although it is unclear why, they have fought humans in two other wars, and now humans are preparing for a third war in which they hope to defeat the buggers in order for the humans themselves to survive. However, Ender comes to see the adults as the real enemy. Graff makes sure that Ender learns that he can never count on an adult to come to his aid. Ender eventually comes to the conclusion, with the influence of Dink, that the adults are manipulating him, forcing him to become a killer.


The climax, the peak of action in a story which events have been building up to, comes when Ender uses Dr. Device on the bugger home planet. Although he expects to be reprimanded for the action, instead the adults celebrate. Then he is told that the battles have been real since he came to Command School. Thus, the buggers as an antagonist have been defeated, but the adults won, having deceived Ender into once again killing.


The following chapters summarize what occurred afterwards, the outcome. Peter comes into power on Earth, where Ender is never allowed to return. Instead, Valentine and Ender go to the first colony on a previous bugger world, where Ender finds the hive queen and, learning that the buggers wish to live in peace, promises to find her a place to live again. Ender and Valentine then set out in search of a place.


Ender’s Game starts out with two unnamed people talking, the one convincing the other that a boy is the one they are looking for; even if now he is malleable, they can change that by surrounding him with enemies. Then the novel switches to the story of Ender, a small six-year-old boy, who gets his monitor removed, a sign that he is no longer a candidate for a government program. This leaves him vulnerable to the school bully, Stilson, who, with his gang, surround Ender after school and begin picking on him, calling him a Third (a term for the third child born in a family, with government permission because of population restrictions). Ender realizes he must fight back, and so, when the other boys let go of him for a one-on-one fight with Stilson, Ender kicks Stilson just above the chest, taking him down. But Ender wants to end the fighting for good, so he keeps kicking Stilson, until (although Ender does not know it at the time) Stilson is dead. He warns the others, walks away, and cries because he thinks he is just like his older brother, Peter.

Back at home, Peter beats Ender up, but Valentine intervenes before it can get too bad, saying that she has evidence against him. Peter says one day he will kill Ender and although he tries to play it off, Ender and Valentine believe him. However, later that night, when Peter thinks Ender is asleep, he tells him that he is sorry about the monitor being removed, he understands, and that he loves him.

However, the next day, the arrival of a man from the International Fleet (I.F.) arrives at the house to get Ender to come to Battle School, a training school for children to fight in the war against the buggers (an alien race that has attacked humans unsuccessfully twice before). The man, Colonel Graff, says that it is Ender’s choice, that Battle School will not be easy, and that he will be away from Valentine for a long time. Ender does not want to go but eventually says he will. Ender says goodbye to his family and leaves with Colonel Graff, with Valentine crying out to him as he does.

On the launch on the way from Earth to Battle School, Ender learns how he can reorient directions in zero gravity. Because of this, Graff singles him out as the only competent one, and the other children turn against him. When one of the boys starts hitting Ender in the head, Ender grabs his arm and, because of the lack of gravity, propels him into a wall, breaking the boy’s arm. At the end of the launch, Ender is hurt because of Graff’s intentional move to make the other boys dislike Ender, but Graff tells him that he is interested in producing the best soldiers in the world, and Ender will just have to become great now. When Ender is gone though, Graff admits that he is Ender’s friend and he feels bad for what he is about to put the boy through.

At the Battle School, Ender and the other boys pick bunks and get settled in. Dap, their mother figure at the school, comes in and tells them that there is no deliberate injury allowed at Battle School, or else that person gets iced out-kicked out. Ender is isolated through dinner in the mess hall, where giant scoreboards show team standings. One of the older boys warns Ender not to end up like him, and Ender is certain that he will not, although he is missing his family and wishing he could go home. Things turn around for Ender when he is able to beat one if the older kids at a video game with techniques that had not been used before. Also, Ender is able to make friends by sending a message (something none of the other boys have figured out how to do) making fun of Bernard, the kid whose arm Ender broke and who has since formed a group like Stilson had. Bernard is furious about the message, but Dap will not do anything about it. Shen, the boy who Ender had defended by sending the message, and some other Launchies join Ender for breakfast.

The first time they enter the battleroom, where the armies fit in battles in zero gravity, the Launchies have some difficulty learning how to move about. Ender and Alai are the first to figure out how to use their guns to freeze people, and, with Bernard and Shen, they freeze everyone else. Alai thus becomes Ender’s best friend and the leader of the Launchies in Bernard’s place. Ender is meanwhile obsessed with a fantasy game, in which he has become stuck at a point when a Giant gives him a choice between two drinks and no matter which he chooses, he dies. Ender, becoming frustrated, attacks the Giant by digging out his eyes. Although with the Giant is thus dead, Ender gets to Fairyland, he is so distraught over killing in what was supposed to just be a game, that he does not bother exploring.

Ender is suddenly transferred to the Salamander Army, which upsets him because he was happy with the Launchies. Alai tells him they will always be friends regardless of the transfer, and he kisses Ender on the cheek, with the word “Salaam”. Ender does not understand, but knows it is a sacred moment. He leaves, and plays the fantasy game, in which he is able to make it to a tower room at “The End of the World”. Before he can play much farther, he is called to Salamander Army barracks. Ender is small in comparison to the others and becomes friends with Petra, the other outcast in the group because she is a girl. She offers to give Ender practice in the mornings, because it is clear that his commander, Bonzo Madrid, does not want him and will not let him practice with the army. Ender also begins practicing with the Launchies again in order to get better, despite Bonzo’s disapproval. During battles though, Ender follows Bonzo’s orders and does nothing, until he is able to turn a battle from a defeat to a draw. He is then traded to Rat Army, but not before Bonzo beats him up as a reprimand for disobeying him, which leads Ender to take a personal combat course.

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