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Idea of Maturity in Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card: Critical Analysis

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Bewildered, pressure, pain and determination. Imagine having to deal with such emotions every second. In the award winning novel, Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, a young exceptional intellectual is given the task and responsibility of taking the weight of the world. Andrew Wiggins, a 6 year old boy is called on by the government to attend battle school where he must learn how to fight, serve and protect. When an individual is referred to as mature, it also comes with the idea that the individual is an adult, but in the paperback Ender’s Game, the idea of maturity is a recurring theme in the novel while majority of the main protagonists presented in the novel are comprised of children. This idea brings readers to the conclusion that age cannot be a factor when judging one’s sense of maturity. Ender’s Game solemnly presents the idea that maturity is not something defined by age but as an attribute developed by one’s experiences as to than a characteristic that only develops within the beauty of aging.In the text, the protagonist known as Andrew Wiggins who we are informally introduced to as Ender is undeniably different from the rest of the other children. In spite of that, there is however one trait Ender and the rest of the children do share in common and that is none of them possess the negative quality of being childish. Readers are able to see this due to the way the characters in the book present and conquer a problem. The adolescents in the novel do not act like typical “normal” children, in fact there is nothing normal about each child as here they are as young as six fighting to save the world but each child is far more mature than what their age would expect their maturity level to be, especially Ender as this is evident through his use of problem solving skills. At the start of the book readers are introduced to a character by the name of Stilson who constantly feels the need to tease and provoke Ender. Stilson gangs up on Ender and plans to beat Ender up. Making the connection with Ender’s age and how a typical six year old would react in this type of situation would lend the reader to infer that Ender would cry and consult in an adult for help as he has not yet developed the mature tactics to resolve conflict. ‘Ender, you should ask a grown-up for help,’ (card,page number). Enders father even questions him as to why he did not confide in an adult who would have maturely solved the conflict. One that may infer that Ender would react to the fight using crying and other six year old stereotypes are quickly proven wrong as Ender beats Stilson up, which may not have been the best way to resolve the problem but it is what he does next that really defines Enders mature mindset. Ender fights back and ended up winning the fight with Stilson but instead of just walking away, he begins to threaten Stilson gang- which is a tactic to prevent them from going after him in the future. ‘Knocking him down won the first fight. I wanted to win all the next ones, too, right then, so they’d leave me alone.’ (card, page number) Ender knew the possible outcomes that would come with beating up Stilson and he wanted to prevent the major outcome that would be Stilson gang coming after him.’It isn’t what he did, Mrs. Wiggin. It’s why.’ (card, page number) This reaction and thinking is unexpected as an individual would not think someone of Ender’s age is capable of using such mature logic like this. Ender’s problem solving skills shown throughout the book are all examples of the underlying tone of maturity that is present through children in the novel. Ender’s thought process goes to show the reader that he is advanced and made to seem more mature to the reader, even though he is just a young child. Ender may be the most dominant figure representing maturity that Card has presented in the novel, Enders siblings also take on an adult persona. One of these characters include Ender’s brother, Peter. Peter gives the impression of an evil genius and hardly gives any clue to readers through his mental that he is a child. As the reader is introduced to Peters charisma it is soon learned that he is without a doubt a very aggressive and extremely violent character. He shows little to no aspects of being a child. Peter is constantly touring his siblings but not in a childish and playful manner as a child would. He tortures them physically and mentally which is shown when Peter forces Ender to play “buggers and astronauts” Peter taunts Ender with remarks while kneeling on him to stop his breathing. “I could kill you like this,” Peter whispered. “Just press and press until you’re dead. And I could say that I didn’t know it would hurt you, that we were just playing, and they’d believe me, and everything would be fine. And you’d be dead. Everything would be fine.” (card,12) Every move Peter makes is carefully thought out and planned to achieve his goal. Peters main goal in the novel was to gain control and power, while he is on top of Ender he is gaining his need for control as he states he could kill Ender in this position. ‘Ender could not speak; the breath was being forced from his lungs. Peter might mean it. Probably didn’t mean it, but then he might.” (card, page number) With Ender in this predicament he learns that Peter is sociopath and let’s Peters words get into his head which results in Peter gaining control. Peter is only ten and shows signs that he outsmarts the average adult as he uses tactics to get what he wants. Peter shows maturity in his violent ways and demonstrates that he is already an adult in every way logical besides his age. Ender and Peters sister, Valentine is also a proytral of the idea that maturity does not rely on age. The Wiggin Siblings all share the tool of calculating their every move. While Valentine and Peter decide to form an alliance and cooperate with one another in order to communicate their ideas to the world through the use of mass message over the internet, the only thing that is stopping them do so is their age. Adults have a tendency of not listening to adolescents because they are just children and have not yet matured making their opinions irrelevant. ‘Peter, you’re twelve years old. I’m ten. They have a word for people our age. They call us children and they treat us like mice.’ (card, page number) Valentine and Peter recognize their opinions are non valid because they are children and realize once they get on the internet, they are able to speak without being disputed because of their age and no one will be able to differentiate them from adults because their ideas are so complex. ‘But we don’t think like other children, do we, Val? We don’t talk like other children. And above all, we don’t write like other children.’ (card,page number) Peter recognizes that he is different from most typical children his age. He knows he matured faster than the rest.

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The question of what effect does age have on maturity is raised in the novel through this as Valentine and Peter recognize that even though they may present the same ideas that an adult may have, they are not taken seriously simply because they are kids. In the treatise, Ender’s Game it is heavily illustrated throughout the novel that maturity is forced upon the children if they have not yet begun to develop it. When the selected few are chosen to attend battle school, they are also expected to possess the ability to adapt comfortably and quickly to new things. If they have not yet shown signs of mature development, the students are quickly rushed to meet these schools standard and to fit the military system. This is seen through the adults discussing Ender and what needs to take place in order for Ender to succeed in battle school. “‘His isolation can’t be broken. He can never come to believe that anyone will come to help him out, ever’” (Card 38). This quote is significant as it represents that the adults have established a plan to develop Ender to meet their mold. The system at battle school is solely built upon taking children who are advanced for their age and developing them into a tool to help benefit society. During Enders and the rest of the children’s time at battle school they are faced with unfairness throughout the journey that were designed to make them crack. Just like adults, they too face unfairness in the workplace. The children are also faced to work with individuals they may not see eye to eye with, but like mature adults manage to work together and put aside differences. Just as Ender was forced to work with Bernard, a team member who Ender had differences with. Putting the children in unfair circumstances demonstrated each child’s maturity come to play. Those who run the school, use unfairness to their advantage. Being able to deal with injustice succesily, is something adults are faced with yet, the children in the novel can relate. The main tool used during battle school to mold the children into ideal fighters include the use of isolation. Isolation makes people seem as if the dependence of others is impossible, to illustrate, Ender is forced to rely on himself and his own resources to survive at battle school. The children are up in space, far, far away from their parents who back on earth relied so much upon, they now must be forced to rely on themselves. They no longer have guides that tell them exactly what to do and how to do it. In other words they technically receive no orders from individuals from higher age telling them what to do, the only time they are told what to accomplish is from commanders. This is something unusual for children, but are forced to adapt too. It rather it seems to be a characteric of adults as adults depend on themselves. A character by the name of Dink, comes to the conclusion that he realizes him and the other children here at school are not normal children. “…I’ve got a pretty good idea what children are, and we aren’t children. Children can lose sometimes and nobody cares. Children aren’t in armies, they aren’t commanders, they don’t rule over forty other kids, it’s more than anybody can take and not get crazy’” (card, 108). Dink is aware that the duties they are responsible for, are not ” normal children activities”. The children are constantly being put into dangerous and severe situations most commonly reserved for adults, such as the involvement of battling with the use of weapons makes them appear older and less like actual kids. Ender is under double digits and is trusted to save the world, while most children of his age are independant and barely trusted to be left alone. This again is another example that illustrates the force of maturity that is brought upon the children attending battle school. When people think of qualities that define maturity, the kids in the novel are example one who is mature would possess. “‘That’s right, we never cry…Nobody ever cries. We really are trying to be adults’” (Card 109). Dink expresses this line to Ender as he sees him starting to tear him when something is not going his way, this is soon changed throughout Enders journey through battle school because as he progress his emotions too suddenly get ripped away. Adults too tend to have their emotions ripped away from them with age. Adults are stereotypical told to not cry as it makes them seem weak and they are “mature enough” to express their feelings in another matter. The children at battle school are taught that crying is a sign of weakness and will not be tolerated as they want to get rid of any weakness the kids show. The children who are seen as weak do not make it up to a commander in battle school, just as adults are taught that if they are weak they will not exceed in life. The most evident thing seen in battle school is adults forcing the children to group up, but since they cannot age quicker, they must mature quicker showing that maturity is simply not defined by your age bit as an individual’s state of mind.

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Idea of Maturity in Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card: Critical Analysis. (2022, August 12). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 22, 2023, from
“Idea of Maturity in Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card: Critical Analysis.” Edubirdie, 12 Aug. 2022,
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