Freedom and Confinement Quotes in Ender's Game
How we cite our quotes:
Now he knew what he hated so much. He had no control over his own life. They ran everything. They made all the choices. Only the game was left to him, that was all, everything else was them and their rules and plans and lessons and programs, and all he could do was go this way or that way in battle. (9.326)
This is Ender’s predicament at school: although he’s the super-best, gold-star soldier, he’s still a soldier doing what someone else wants him to do. (He identifies the game as one area where he’s free, but that’s a little silly to us – a game, after all, has rules that confine the player.) Ender isn’t free and he’s pretty depressed. Luckily, though, now he knows why he’s depressed and he can go off and deal with his feelings (through the mind game).
“Our genes won't let us decide any other way. Nature can't evolve a species that hasn't a will to survive.” (13.286)
Here’s Graff giving a slightly more clarified explanation of the first quote in this section. Or is it? In that other quote, Graff told Ender (and us) that individuals aren’t free because of pressure the species puts on us. Here, Graff locates that pressure in our genes. On one hand, there’s definitely some overlap there – genes do get passed down by the species, after all. On the other hand, aren’t genes (in some ways) what make us individuals? We could connect this with Graff’s later comment on about how his body deals with stress in different ways (over-eating, under-eating). Which brings us back to that issue: if we could get free of everything social that was confining us, might we still be confined by our selves?
Freedom. The trouble was, he didn't know what to do. (14.312)
This is Ender, on his last day in “school,” when, for the first time in a while, Mazer isn’t around to tell him where to go. So, Ender is free, but suddenly doesn’t know what to do. We’re not entirely sure what’s going on here. Could it be that Ender has just gotten so used to being shepherded that he’s lost without Mazer? As if Ender’s life were reduced just to fighting the buggers and didn’t have any other ideas? Or is something else going on? Did you feel like Ender’s reaction to freedom should make us reconsider whether “freedom” is all it’s cracked up to be?