The first chapter of Ender's Game begins with a conversation between two unnamed people, discussing a boy and his two siblings. They decide that the boy is the one they need to save the world from the buggers, although they have doubts, just as they did about the brother and sister.
The story begins to describe the life of Ender, the six year old boy they were describing. He is having his monitor removed. This device had allowed the authorities to view the world as he did, and from Ender's thoughts we learn that the monitor has made him an outcast. His brother Peter also had a monitor, but Ender had his for a year longer, and Peter hates him for this. Ender wants Peter to stop hating him, but quickly decides that he and Peter will never be friends, because Peter is too dangerous. The removal of the monitor is painful, and Ender is drugged before returning to class.
When Ender returns to class he is teased by a boy named Stilson, but Ender just seems bored by school. He knows the answers to all of the questions and hardly bothers paying attention. He is teased about being a "Third", and Ender thinks that it is the government's fault that he is a Third, since they authorized his birth. After school Ender is cornered and held by a group of bullies led by Stilson. Ender realizes that the situation does not look good for him and decides to do something about it. He talks them into letting go of him and then kicks Stilson in the chest. It occurs to Ender that he must stop their bullying once and for all. So, even though he knows not to strike an opponent who is on the ground, he kicks Stilson brutally several more times to stop anyone from messing with him in the future. Then Ender cries while waiting for the bus, thinking that he has become just like Peter.
The beginning of the book introduces two major themes. First, the conversation between the two unknown adults demonstrates the amount of manipulation that is involved in Ender's life. At every step there are people watching him, and, although he is a mere six years old, they are already preparing for him to be the savior of the human race. The idea of adults as higher powers controlling every aspect of a child's life brings up the question of whether or not everyone's life is controlled by another. On the other hand, this conversation shows the humanity and the desperation of the people talking. They want to control Ender, but only because they desperately need him. They may manipulate his life, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Equally important, the conversation frames the events for the chapter. The two people discuss how Ender must be surrounded by enemies, and in school he literally is surrounded by his enemies. This book is very much the story of how the worries of the adults play out in Ender's life, and this rhetorical method allows Card to tell the story from two different perspectives. It always starts with the view of the adults and then moves into the lives of the children they are describing.
The second theme that this chapter initiates is Ender's struggle to confront his sense of loneliness. He has only himself to rely on, and this forces him to be ruthless in dealing with Stilson. He is also singled out because he is a Third, a third child, something so rare that it took government authorization to make it possible. Ender has the ability to survive on his own, but there is a great personal risk. His brother Peter needs no one, and yet Ender fears nothing more than becoming his brother. The issue then is whether or not Ender can retain his humanity and still defeat his enemies. Of course, this issue is alluded to in the conversation that starts the book. The fact that Ender cries because he believes he has become just like Peter shows that he is wrong. He is still a good human being who does not want to do any harm to anyone. However, if forced, he will stand up for himself, and it is clear that standing in Ender's way is not a good idea.
I think the foil of the brothers' motivations can be simplified like this:
Ender is always doing the wrong thing for the right reasons:
Ender always wants to do no harm, but is often forced to harm/destroy by situations beyond his control. He does his best to do things in the most moral way, and for only the most moral purposes, but that's not always as possible as he would like.
Peter does the right thing for the wrong reasons:
Peter simply wants to do whatever is the easiest/most beneficial for himself, and is in... Read more→
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