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

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From revised mass market edition July 1994, published by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC

1. “I have to win this now, and for all time, or I’ll fight it every day and it will get worse and worse.” p. 7 (Ender, during his fight with Stilson)

Ender’s theory when fighting, which drives him to kill Stilson and Bonzo, as well as to fight brutally against the older boys in the battleroom, the Giant, and the buggers. He will not follow the traditional rules of combat, whether it is by fighting beyond the normal point, striking an opponent in a new way, or going against what he sees as the teachers’ rules for a game.

2. “As a species, we have evolved to survive. And the way we do it is by straining and straining and, at last, every few generations, giving birth to genius. The one who invents the wheel. And light. And flight. The one who builds a city, a nation, an empire.... Human beings are free except when humanity needs them. Maybe humanity needs you. To do something.” p. 35 (Colonel Graff to Ender, as he arrives at Battle School)

This seems to pretty much sum up Colonel Graff’s thinking, as to why he himself is involved. It is why he will push Ender to the boy’s limits.

3. “This was supposed to be a game. Not a choice between his own grisly death and an even worse murder. I’m a murderer, even when I play. Peter would be proud of me.” p. 65 (Ender, after killing the Giant in the fantasy game)

Although the line is applied to the fantasy game, it will become even more true when he fights the buggers. Ender also thinks that it is a game, and, being overwhelmingly outnumbered, he ends up destroying the buggers completely.

4. “Alai suddenly kissed Ender on the cheek and whispered in his ear, ‘Salaam.’ Then, red-faced, he turned away and walked to his own bed at the back of the barracks.” p. 69 (Alai, to Ender)

Peace is also Ender’s wish, as seen when he wonders what it would be like to just live and when he is at the North Carolina house. The moment with Alai is especially significant for Ender as it represents his deepest bond of friendship.

5. “‘It’s the teachers, they’re the enemy. They get us to fight each other, to hate each other. The game is everything. Win win win. It amounts to nothing.’” p. 108 (Dink, to Ender)

Although Ender does not believe all that Dink says, the conversation makes Ender question his situation as never before. Eventually, he also comes to see the teachers as the enemy and the game as nothing, which he demonstrates through such actions as his at the battle against two armies after he has just killed Bonzo.

6. “‘You’re just what the world needs. A twelve-year-old to solve all our problems.’ ‘It’s not my fault I’m twelve right now. And it’s not my fault that right now is when the opportunity is open. Right now is the time when I can shape events. The world is always a democracy in times of flux, and the man with the best voice will win.’” p. 130 (Valentine and Peter, prior to taking on the Demosthenes and Locke identities)

This represents a major theme in the novel, that of children being capable. Peter proves to be right in his abilities to shape events, using his identity on the net as Locke to settle divisions on Earth after the bugger war.

7. “I’m trapped here, Ender thought, trapped at the End of the World with no way out. And he knew at last the sour taste that had come to him, despite all his successes in the Battle School. It was despair.” p. 141 (Ender, playing the fantasy game)

This not only hints at Ender’s feelings towards being manipulated and his lack of control over his own life, but also at his fears that, in the end, he will run out of ideas and not be able to win. The feeling is represented again, when he admits it to Bean and Valentine, and when he overlooks his own uneasiness at learning from the buggers in order to come up with new tactics for his own use.

8. “‘I know what you’re thinking, you bastard, you’re thinking that I’m wrong, that Ender’s like Peter. Well maybe I’m like Peter, but Ender isn’t, he isn’t at all, I used to tell him that when he cried, I told him that lots of times, you’re not like Peter, you never like to hurt people, you’re kind and good and not like Peter at all!’” p. 148 (Valentine to Colonel Graff, about Ender and Peter)

Although Ender and Peter are presented, especially through Valentine, as polar opposites, often in the novel, they are blurred. For example, Peter says he is afraid of becoming a killer and wants to use his power for good, to unite the world. Ender, on the other hand, kills, even the wasp that lands on the raft.

9. “But I’ll be watching you, more compassionately than you know, and when the time is right you’ll find that I’m your friend, and you are the soldier you want to be.” p. 168 (Ender, thinking about Bean after the first day of practice)

As Ender himself notes, his relationship with Bean very closely parallels what happened between Colonel Graff and Ender. In both instances, the tactic works to push the boy to be a good soldier.

10. “‘In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him. I think it’s impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves. And then, in that very moment when I love them-..... I destroy them. I make it impossible for them to ever hurt me again. I grind them and grind them until they don’t exist.’” p. 238 (Ender to Valentine)

It is here that Ender reveals what happens to him when he fights. It also foreshadows events with the buggers, as shortly after this conversation, Ender begins trying to learn as much as he can about them, and comes to destroy them completely.

11. “So that’s why you brought me here, thought Ender. With all your hurry, that’s why you took three months, to make me love Earth. Well, it worked. All your tricks worked. Valentine, too; she was another one of your tricks, to make me remember that I’m not going to school for myself. Well, I remember.” p. 243 (Ender, thinking about Colonel Graff as they leave the house in North Carolina)

This is important for revealing the motivation behind Ender’s decisions. It also serves to solidify the tie between what had, up to that point, become two separate aspects of the novel-Valentine on Earth, and Ender up at Battle School.

12. “‘So if we can we’ll kill every last one of the buggers, and if they can they’ll kill every last one of us.’ ‘As for me,’ said Ender, ‘I’m in favor of surviving.’” p. 254 (Colonel Graff and Ender, on the war with the buggers)

This also foreshadows events with the buggers, hinting at complete destruction if possible. It also provides a very basic, simple explanation for human actions in the war; since the intended result is the destruction of an entire species, it must be seen as necessary for survival.

13. “Real. Not a game. Ender’s mind was too tired to cope with it all. They weren’t just points of light in the air, they were real ships that he had fought with and real ships he had destroyed. And a real world that he had blasted into oblivion. He walked through the crowd, dodging their congratulations, ignoring their hands, their words, their rejoicing. When he got to his own room he stripped off his clothes, climbed into bed, and slept.” p. 297 (Ender, after defeating the buggers)

Once again, what had been a game ended up being reality, adults lied, and Ender ended up killing, when he did not mean to do so. It is Ender who recognizes the implications of his actions, who sees what he did as murder.

14. “‘I didn’t want to kill them all. I didn’t want to kill anybody! I’m not a killer! You didn’t want me, you bastards, you wanted Peter, but you made me do it, you tricked me into it!’ He was crying. He was out of control.” p. 297-8 (Ender to Mazer and Graff)

Similarly to the previous quote, Ender is upset over being manipulated into doing something that he did not want to do. He is not malicious, like Peter, and the deaths weigh heavily on him.

15. “‘I’ll carry you,’ said Ender, ‘I’ll go from world to world until I find a time and a place where you can come awake in safety. And I’ll tell your story to my people, so that perhaps in time, they can forgive you, too. The way that you’ve forgiven me.’” p. 321 (Ender to the hive queen)

This sets up events for the sequel, as well as providing a mental closing to Ender’s trauma over having killed the buggers. It also ends the story on a note of peace and forgiveness, in contrast to the rest of the novel, which has been about war and revenge.

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