Ender's Game

by: Orson Scott Card

Ender

Ender smiled. He was the one who had figured out how to send messages and make them march—even as his secret enemy called him names, the method of delivery praised him.

As Ender sits at his desk in school, another student taunts him by sending a message that says “Third,” teasing Ender for being an unwanted child. The insult barely registers with Ender as he only feels pride that he was able to figure out how to send messages in this way. Right from the beginning, readers can see both Ender’s intellect and immunity to suffering.

He felt good. He had won something, and against older boys. Probably not the best of the older boys, but he no longer had the panicked feeling that he might be out of his depth, that Battle School might be too much for him.

The narrator explains how, after Ender beats the older boys at a computer game, he begins to feel more confident in himself and his abilities at Battle School. On the way to Battle School, Ender began to doubt himself, so proving to himself and others that he possesses the ability to be an outstanding commander makes him feel more hopeful. Unlike the other boys, Ender’s confidence comes from his actual abilities and not a blind sense of competition.

I’m doing it again, thought Ender. I’m hurting people again, just to save myself. Why don’t they leave me alone, so I don’t have to hurt them?

After Ender accidentally hurts another child in the Battle Room, he wonders why he can’t seem to stop hurting people. Although Ender feels too much compassion to want to hurt others, he does have a ruthlessness similar to Peter’s when needed. He doesn’t hesitate hurting others in order to defend himself, but immediately wonders how he can stop himself.

In the corridors leading to the battleroom, Ender made them run back and forth in the halls, fast, so they were sweating a little, while the naked ones got dressed.

The narrator describes how, on Ender’s first day as commander, he proves himself to be just as strict as other commanders at Battle School. He forces his army to run to the Battle Room even if they have not gotten dressed yet, humiliating them and then making them sweat before practice. Even though Ender seemed to detest the humiliation he experienced at the hands of his other commanders, he knows that such practices will make his soldiers better.

Ender despised them—but secretly, so secretly that he didn’t even know it himself, he feared them. It was just such little torments that Peter had always used, and Ender was beginning to feel far too much at home.

Here, the narrator explains how Ender feels about the other armies at the school. As Ender’s army remains undefeated, others become jealous of him and begin to perform small pranks on him to get revenge. Despite being the most celebrated soldier and commander in the school, Ender fears the other students because they remind him of his former tormenter, Peter. Ender may be a great commander, but he remains a child at heart.

“I didn’t want to hurt him!” Ender cried. “Why didn’t he just leave me alone!”

After Ender unknowingly kills Bonzo, he laments again the fact that he keeps hurting people although he does not want to. Even though Dink acknowledges that Bonzo would have killed Ender, Ender can’t help but feel compassion for his former commander and guilt that he hurt him.