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

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The plot is chronologically linear, and predominately told in the third person, through the point of view of Ender. This is not the case when the story looks at events back on Earth, when Valentine becomes the main focus, or in the beginnings of the chapters when adults are conversing, usually somewhat mysteriously. Readers therefore are slightly more aware of the overall plot than Ender, but also do not know how events look from the buggerís point of view until the end of the novel, at which point Ender does as well.

The overall problem driving the plot is that of the conflict between buggers and humans. This leads to a conflict between children and adults, as the adults manipulate the children to train them to be able to fight in the war. The plot is generally driven by the scenarios that the adults, mainly Graff, place Ender in. Although there are few relationships that are emphasized, technology has a significant role, especially through the games that become central to the childrenís lives.

Characteristic of the science fiction novel, Ender, an unlikely hero, is taken to Battle School in space, where he learns to fight in battles in zero gravity. He learns that the Earth is worth saving and continues on to Command School, where he unknowingly destroys the alien civilization of the buggers through a devastating weapon. As humans push farther into space, Ender finds the hive queen and is given a chance to redeem his actions.



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.

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