by Orson Scott Card
Ender's Game Theme of Freedom and Confinement
Here’s a fun game: count the number of ways that Ender gets confined in this book. Actually, that’s not a fun game at all because the subject is just sad. But you can still impress your friends by noting how many different ways Ender (and other characters) has his freedom limited. There are the big ways that get a lot of attention in Ender’s Game, like school (you have to do what the teacher tells you), and the army (you have to obey orders). But then there are other ways that are harder to spot. For instance, there’s familial love (Ender goes to school to protect Valentine) or even DNA (humans built to survive, says Graff). In this book, there are so many instances of confinement that it’s hard to say that we’re free at all.
Questions About Freedom and Confinement
- While Ender is the focus of the book, are the other characters similarly confined? Does their confinement differ? Is Ender ever confining others?
- How are freedom and confinement demonstrated in the novel? In other words, how do you know when Ender is confined? Is this hinted at, or symbolized, or does Card just come out and say it?
- At the end, Graff says, “I am a creature of chemicals” (15.3). That’s his explanation for why he gained and lost a lot of weight in this book. Are “chemicals” a way that Graff is confined?
- Ender often feels confined by the choices of others. For instance, when a bully attacks, he has to protect himself (and ends up killing a few bullies along the way). Is that another way he’s confined? Or is he missing some other possibility? Is confinement often what happens when a character misses some other possibility?