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Review of Orson Scott Card's 'Ender’s Game'

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In ‘Ender’s Game’ by Orson Scott Card, we are introduced to a six-year-old genius, Ender Wiggin. For years, Ender has been forced to train at a battle school in space to become the destined savior of the galaxy. However, after going through the torturing years there, he’s come to realize that he has been tricked into becoming his brother; a killer. Training to become a commander and to soon save the world is riddled with mind-destroying manipulation. As the book continues, Ender learns that he can’t trust the battle school adults to worry about his mental and physical health, and that they will never treat him like the child he technically is.

His first realization is shown on page 32; “Another blow… Where was Graff? Then it became clear. Graff has deliberately caused it. It was worse than the abuse in the shows. When the sergeant picked on you, the others liked you better. But when the officer prefers you, the others hate you” (Card). Ender knew soon after that Colonel Graff wanted him to get beat up; he caused the other boy to be angry at Ender on purpose. Another example of this is stated on pages 245 and 246; “Graff reached out and touched his hand across the aisle. Ender stiffened in surprise… for a moment Ender was struck with the startling thought that perhaps Graff felt some affection for him. But no, it was just another calculated gesture” (Card). This quote is taken from the near end of the novel, which shows that throughout his experience at the school he’s trained himself to not believe any tender emotions from the surrounding adults are true.

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When Ender has unintentionally destroyed the buggers, Colonel Graff states, “It had to be a trick or you couldn’t have done it… We had to have a commander with so much empathy that he would think like the buggers, understand them and anticipate them. So much compassion… But somebody with that much compassion could never be the killer we needed. Could never go into battle willing to win at all costs. If you knew, you couldn’t do it” (Card 298). Ender was manipulated into killing billions without having a single clue he was doing so. This causes Ender to be corrupted with heaps of guilt and shame through the rest of the novel.

Ender’s empathy for other beings was increasingly shown throughout the story. After each of his fatal retaliations on others, he felt more and more guilty, consequently destroying his mind. When Ender has destroyed all remaining buggers, he’s swarmed with guilt, not realizing he had just wiped a species entirely. Card writes, “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” (298). Now, at the end of his journey, Ender is left feeling incredible wickedness. The guilt must be unfathomable; If Ender felt as terrible as described when he hurt Stilson, it’s hard to imagine how disgustingly awful he felt when he found out he had destroyed billions. Card states, “All his crimes weighed heavy on him, the deaths of Stilson and Bonzo no heavier and no lighter than the rest” at the end of the novel (309). Even though the two deaths mentioned were near the beginning of the book, they’ve still kept heavy weight on Ender all throughout his journey. He describes them as crimes; offenses that someone should be punished for because they’re pure evil. Even though there’s millions telling him what he did was right, even though his most trusted family member is urging him to believe his actions were for the better, he still can’t bring himself to accept their viewpoint. It doesn’t matter what Ender is told and who’s telling him, he can never be okay with what he’s done, even if it wasn’t intentional.

‘Ender’s Game’ brings you into a world of a battle school dedicated to training children to defeat galactic aliens almost completely against their will. It introduces Ender Wiggin, a boy who is to become the sacred commander who puts an end to their world’s war, not by choice. He’s taunted by the adults around him; they rid him of his emotions and torment him with inevitable fights that result in Ender killing someone. Going through the several years necessary of battle school and later being taken to command school requires nothing more than being harshly manipulated by your mentors.

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Review of Orson Scott Card’s ‘Ender’s Game’. (2022, August 25). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 25, 2023, from
“Review of Orson Scott Card’s ‘Ender’s Game’.” Edubirdie, 25 Aug. 2022,
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