Ender's Game Theme of Friendship
Besides having a brother who wants to kill him, parents who feel conflicted about him, a teacher who lies to him, and an alien species that might want to destroy his planet, Ender’s big problem is that he has no friends. Actually, having no friends is probably one of Ender’s biggest problems – all of the other problems are bearable, if only Ender has a friend to help him through it. Seriously. In Ender's Game, having a crazy brother is only OK because Ender has his sister’s love and companionship. If Val wasn’t there for him, Ender might not have made it. Similarly, if Ender didn’t have Alai and Shen, then he might not have gotten through Battle School sane. Ender may be a kid who has trouble making and keeping friends, but he desperately needs them, too.
Questions About Friendship
- One reason why Ender has trouble making friends is that the administrators at Battle School purposely isolate him. Do you think Ender would make friends more easily if Graff didn’t single him out? Even before Ender gets on to the shuttle, he doesn’t quite feel like he belongs with the other kids. So, how much of Ender’s friendlessness is due to him being different? How much is due to other people?
- Do any of the characters other than Ender have difficulty making and keeping friends? Which characters are good at making friends? What do those characters teach us about friendship?
- Graff notes that Ender can have friends but not parents at Battle School (5.16). How do parents differ from friends? Are there some things that parents can do that friends cannot? What about Ender’s parents in particular? Are they very good at acting like parents?
- This may sound a little sad, but are friends totally necessary? Does Ender need real friends? Or can he get by with some memories of people who were once his buds? (Like, does he really need to feel that Val loves him or can he get by on the memory that she did?) Do friends get in the way of Ender’s other goals, like his desire to be the best at school?