“Valentine turned and screamed at him, screamed as if he were killing her ‘Ender is not like Peter! He is not like Peter in any way! Except that he’s smart, that’s all — in every other way a person could possibly be like Peter he is nothing nothing nothing like Peter! Nothing! “(Card 148). In the novel, Enders Game by Orson Scott Card, good and evil are compared through Ender Wiggin and his older brother, Peter. The novel examines how certain outcomes cannot be changed despite good or bad intentions, but these intentions are vital when analyzing a character.
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This novel focuses on the life of the protagonist, Andrew (Ender) Wiggin, a child genius, from the age of six to fourteen. Throughout the novel Ender struggles to follow his moral compass while being manipulated and deceived. Ender faces various antagonists in his life from Peter and other bullies at his school, to authority figures that often either ignore or try to manipulate him. His only companion is his sister, Valentine. Ender is separated from her at the age of six when he is recruited by the international fleet to defend Earth from an inevitable alien invasion. He is brought to a training school where he is deliberately isolated from the other students by the director and the instructors. He is a brilliant military strategist and is hated by other students who resent Ender or mistake his confidence for arrogance. After several years
Ender is moved to command school where he begins to play a virtual strategy game that simulates space combat. He is joined by friends from the training school who accompany him as captains in the simulation. After becoming experienced at the game, Ender and his comrades are forced to face their greatest challenge, battle scenarios created by a war hero, Mazer Rackham who seems determined to defeat Ender by making the scenarios more and more challenging. The final battle is the most unfair. Ender commands only a few ships which must fight a massive fleet of enemy ships defending a planet. Determined to fail this test, Ender attacks the planet with a molecular disruptor believing that this act of barbarity would prove Ender not fit to be a commander. The planet is destroyed, but instead of reprimanding him, the adults at the school congratulate him. Ender is confused until Mazer explains that the simulations were a deception and that he was controlling real space battles. The planet Ender destroyed was actually the aliens’ home planet. Ender realizes that he has just killed billions of aliens and passes out, waking up days later. After a few more months at command school, Ender is reunited with Valentine and leaves on a voyage to colonize an abandoned alien planet where he tries to find a way to follow his ethical code.
Ender Wiggin has two major motivations: his sense of duty and responsibility, and his moral code. Sometimes these two motivations support the same actions but other times they are opposing. This creates an internal conflict in Ender which is usually resolved with careful reasoning. The only serious changes that Ender goes through are in physical size and in spirit. Ender is much more disenchanted at the end of the novel, but he is still driven by his moral obligations. “‘We have to go. I’m almost happy here […] I’ve lived too long with pain. I won’t know who I am without it.’ So they boarded a starship and went from world to world. Wherever they stopped, he was always Andrew Wiggin, itinerant speaker for the dead, and she was always Valentine, historian errant, writing down the stories of the living while Ender spoke the stories of the dead”(323-324). Ender feels an obligation to tell the stories of the aliens who he has destroyed and, although he enjoys life on his colony, he feels that he must follow his moral compass.
One important theme that Card conveys in this novel is that good intentions do not always lead to good actions or outcomes. At the beginning of the novel Ender is considered the “good” sibling because he is much kinder and more peaceful than Peter is and he is not able to defend himself. Peter is considered “evil” because he takes out his anger on people weaker than he, such as Ender. These seemingly simple ideas of good and evil are examined and dissected by Card in order to explain to the reader the relationships between intentions and actions, and how what one can do may be totally different from what that person feels. This is evident through Ender’s actions; at the age of six, Ender is attacked at school by a bully named Stilson. Stilson is larger than Ender and, although he tries to avoid a conflict, Ender is drawn in and forced to fight. Ender fights well and eventually knocks Stilson down and proceeds to kick him thinking, “I have to win this now, and for all time, or I’ll fight it every day and it will get worse and worse”(7). This psychology leads Ender to beat Stilson brutally regardless of his ethical feelings. A similar incident occurs at the battle school when an older boy attacks Ender in the shower. Ender first tries to talk the boy out of a fight but fails. Ender has to fight, and he fights well defeating the other boy swiftly and harshly, continuing to hit him once he has been beaten. It is not until years later that Ender learns that both boys have died from their injuries. During his life, Peter never kills anybody, and actually saves millions of lives by stopping a great war and gaining power over the world. The most evil acts that Peter ever commits are bullying and the vivisection of animals for pleasure; however, Peter exhibits sociopathic behaviors while Ender is compassionate and empathetic even for his enemies and always tries to do what he believes is right. Ender’s intentions are good throughout the story, whereas Peters are often selfish or evil; because of circumstances, these intentions are often insignificant in the outcome of an action but important when judging a character. By this reasoning Ender is proven a “good” person and Peter a “bad” person regardless of their actions.
One literary device that is significant in this novel is foreshadowing. Each chapter of the book begins with a conversation between two adults who are discussing Ender. These adults are usually high ranking members of the International Fleet. Their conversation always foreshadows the events that will occur in that chapter. One example of this foreshadowing occurs in chapter 10, the chapter starts with a talk between directors of the school: “‘what we’re going to do to him isn’t all bad, you know. He gets his privacy again.’ ‘Isolation, you mean’ ‘The loneliness of power. Go call him in’” (155) Later in the chapter, Ender is Isolated by other students when he is made a “commander”. This device is effective because it adds suspense by giving the reader a hint of what will occur in the upcoming chapter, evoking his or her curiosity, and revealing to the reader how the International Fleet sees Ender and plans for him, concepts that we can’t learn from Ender.
In Enders Game by Orson Scott Card good and evil are compared through two brothers who seem to be complete opposites. Ender is considered the “good” brother and Peter the “evil” brother, however because of circumstances. Peter saves many lives by ending a war and taking control of the earth, whereas Ender kills two boys and billions of aliens. This comparison is used by Card to express the idea that a character can still be good or bad regardless of their actions as long as they remain the same morally. Peter could have easily taken the world over with war instead of peace if the circumstances had been different. Ender deeply regrets killing and often examines himself to see if he is becoming like Peter. The relationship between these brothers represents the idea that a person’s action does not always define him/her and can often be misleading.
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