by Orson Scott Card
Ender's Game Theme of Identity
Very often, we would classify a book about young kids growing up as a “coming-of-age” story. And very often that sort of story would have the characters asking questions about their identity – that is, as they grow up, they’d ask themselves, “Who am I?” (Not in an amnesia way, but in a “They say I’m just a kid, but who am I really?” sort of way.) Now, we don’t think Ender’s Game is really a coming-of-age story. For one thing, people usually change in a coming-of-age story, but the Ender at the beginning (who breaks the unwritten rules of combat and kicks Stilson to death) is not all that different from the Ender at the end (who breaks the unwritten rules of war and destroys the bugger homeworld). So when we say that Ender’s Game has a theme of identity, we mean it has a very particular set of questions. It’s not so much “Who am I?” In Ender’s Game, the identity question is “Am I a vicious killer like Peter?”
Questions About Identity
- We'll ask that question for Ender: Is Ender a vicious killer like Peter?
- Ender and Val are the two characters that seem to worry about their identity most in this book, but are there other characters that worry about who they are? Do you think Peter worries about his identity?
- Ender guesses that the government wanted someone who was half Peter and half Val (3.116). Do you think that’s a good description of Ender’s character? What is it about Val that the government wants? Do they get it in Ender?
- Ender doesn’t want to identify with Peter, and yet he sometimes does some things that are pretty Peter-ish. How does Ender avoid identifying with Peter? How does Ender avoid feeling guilty about the violence he’s involved in?
- Does Ender’s identity change much over the course of this book?