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

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The novel covers much of Enderís youth, beginning when he is a six-year-old boy who is helpless against his older brother and ending sometime after his 10th birthday, when he has learned the lessons of Battle and Command School-no one will ever come to his aid, adults will deceive and manipulate, and, under certain circumstances, he too can be driven to kill to ensure his own survival. With this last lesson, he is the average of Peter and Valentine, killing but regretfully, with all of the Wiggin children intelligence that makes it possible for him to do so. Ender rarely comes across as a child, either to those around him who treat him more with the respect worthy of a commander, or to the reader. As such, he is different, and the isolation that comes with it, is something that Ender occasionally laments. It also makes him the only person capable of understanding the buggers, who have likewise been placed in a situation where they are misunderstood. Ender is the intelligent youth who is able to accomplish all that is expected of him, though he is quietly going through his own struggles, whether as a result of loneliness, fear, or regret.

Valentine changes from a young girl in fear of Peter to one who comes to realize her own power. By the time Ender returns from Battle School, she has changed so that she is now willing to convince him to continue training for her own good. When he finishes with Command School, she is able to make sure that Peter can never use Ender for his own purposes. Throughout the novel, Valentine consistently defends Ender as being different from Peter, often seeing the two as polar opposites, good and evil. She encounters problems when she allies herself with Peter in taking on the identity of Demosthenes. While she starts off completely in disgust with the characterís opinions, she begins to become more comfortable with it, so that, by the end, she is at ease enough as Demosthenes to continue writing under the name. Valentine is significant to the outcome of the story in that it is her that leads Ender to go to first Command School and then to Enderís World, where he discovers the hive queen.

Overall, Peter demonstrates the themes of capable children versus adults, and good versus evil. In the case of the latter, the line blurs somewhat from the beginning of the novel to the end, as both Ender and Peter change. At the start, through Ender and Valentineís eyes, Peter is capable of anything, no matter how bad it seems. Although he says he fears becoming even worse, Valentine is never completely convinced that he means it. Even his sensitive words to Ender at night do not seem to make a difference as Ender continuously compares his own behavior to Peterís, as a control to prevent becoming too violent. When the bugger war ends, he ends the fighting on Earth through the Locke Proposal, and becomes Hegemon, basically ruling the world. Again, there is a parallel between Peter and Ender, who is at the same time, governor on the first colony. Few details are given on Peterís rule, but the reader is left to assume that it was as successful as Enderís.

Graff is significant as a kind of omniscient manager of events. It is Graff who receives the reports on the bugger expedition, knows the true identities of Locke and Demosthenes, and decides what will be done to Ender in order to shape him into a commander. Although he is put on trial after the war, he is pretty much able to do what he sees fit. For his job and the war effort, he knows that Ender will be put through a lot of difficult situations, but he says that, in the end, he will be Enderís friend. It would seem that he cares about the boy and Ender does recognize how Graff has made him a good commander, but overall, he epitomizes the manipulation of the adults.

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