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

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Although it is only with Ender for the first part of the novel, at that point it has come to represent safety and assurance that nothing bad will happen to him. It is constant adult supervision of his life. The removal of the monitor means that he is on his own and that no one will come to his aid, regardless of how serious the danger is to himself or others.


The squirrel that Peter tortures in the woods is a symbol for Peter himself-his cruelty, combined with a desire to control and manipulate those around him. Peter, as evident from his appearance in the mirror in the fantasy game as well as Enderís talk with Valentine on the lake in North Carolina, symbolizes to Ender several things. First of all, he is an enemy that Ender cannot defeat. But he is also what Ender fears to become; he consistently compares himself to Peter to warn himself against going too far.

Giantís game

Ender becomes obsessed with winning the fantasy game, which is designed to develop a meaning between the child and the computer. Enderís murder of the Giant is one example of how, when faced with limited options, he wants to keep going and will strike out in any way possible. Furthermore, the scenes in the tower room symbolize Enderís more evil actions; for example, his departure with Valentine from the room to the cheering of the people with Peterís face, roughly parallels their leaving from Eros, where all the people praised Enderís destruction of the buggers.


Previously a bugger world, the place symbolizes for Ender the death of the buggers, as well as the future. Ender had said that he loves his enemy at the time he kills them; Eros is the mythological figure of love and it is while here that he is fighting them. Eros also foreshadows the human spread over bugger worlds, which the hive queen welcomes as she forgives mankind. Also, Enderís long period of sleep amidst the bugger-built tunnels and rooms parallels the hive queenís dormant state on what will become Enderís World.


As the first time Ender kills, or even fights for that matter, Stilson is a reoccurring figure in Enderís mind. To him, Stilson represents the lesson of fighting once, and taking it as far as it must go to make sure he does not need to fight again. Stilson also haunts Enderís dreams since, even though he was not told, a part of Ender knows that he killed Stilson. Therefore, he is also a symbol of the murders of which Ender was the unwilling committer.

Historical Figures

The references made to historical figures, both by Colonel Graff and by the children themselves, symbolizes the extent of the childrenís power and capabilities. It also makes them seem less childlike, but rather with a degree of aloofness and superiority that is associated with those large figures in the past. Locke and Demosthenes, the pen names that Peter and Valentine take on, symbolize Peter and Valentine to a certain extent. Although they start off representing the childís opposite view, in taking on the identity, each comes to adopt the other perspective themselves. Peter becomes the one to put forth a compromise for peace, reflecting Lockeís reasonable views while Valentine understands Demosthenesí need to avoid those in power in order to prevent repercussions.

Army Names

Enderís army, Dragon, is associated with fire, showing a connection between the Salamander and Phoenix armies, both of which he served in previously. The dragon is a symbol for Ender because of its complex nature; it can capture both Enderís intelligence and violence. Salamanders are known for their ability to regenerate limbs. This could metaphorically be applied in any number of ways. For instance, the army itself lost a toon leader when Ender was promoted into it, but Ender grows in his ability and proves himself valuable. Another way would be that Ender is cut off from his old group, as he was starting to fit into it, and now must grow as a soldier.


In general, the games symbolize reality. Ender must wear a bugger mask when he plays with Peter, foreshadowing how he will come to understand and sympathize with the buggers. At Battle School, the games consume the childrenís lives, so much so that they stop acting like children on Earth and assume the role of commanders. The fantasy game reveals much of the inner turmoil in Enderís life. Finally, the games he plays at Command School turn out to be real, so that the image he sees actually does mean the destruction of the buggers.


Enderís Game

Author: Orson Scott Card

Date Published: 1985

Meaning of the Title: The title refers to the war with buggers, during which Ender is commanding the human fleet but thinks it is a simulation. Therefore, it is just a game to him but the adults know the whole time that it is for real.

Setting: North Carolina, Battle School (and the fantasy game), Command School on Eros, Enderís World

Genre: novel (science fiction)

Protagonist: Andrew ďEnderĒ Wiggin

Antagonist: Although the buggers are seen as the overall antagonist, Ender comes to see the adults as the real enemy. He also must deal with his brother Peter, and has concentrated fights with a few of the other boys-Stilson, Bernard, and Bonzo.

Mood: serious

Point of View: third person, focused on either Ender or Valentine. Also, at the start of chapters, there is a third person perspective, but while listening to often unnamed adult characters converse.

Tense: This story is written in past tense.

Rising Action: events at Battle School, before Ender is transferred to Command School

Exposition: first three chapters in which the reader is introduced to the Wiggin children and Colonel Graff, Ender is presented in contrast to Peter, and Ender decides to go to Battle School

Climax: the battle with the buggers, Enderís use of Dr. Device on the bugger home planet, and his being told that the battles have been real all along

Outcome: Peter comes into power on Earth, 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, Ender and Valentine set out in search of a place

Major Themes: children (capable) versus adults (untrustworthy), the line between good and evil, games versus reality

Minor Themes: murder and redemption/ love and destruction/ love and hate, winning at all costs, being different, revenge/ deceit/ manipulation, taking on an identity, struggle for survival/ understanding, influence of memories on what a person is


likely to give in to pressure from others

maladroit: awkward, lacking skill

salaam: peace

toon: a small military unit

hegemony: leadership over others

I.F. : International Fleet

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