by Orson Scott Card
Isolation Quotes in Ender's Game
How we cite our quotes: (Chapter.Paragraph)
“Too willing to submerge himself in someone else’s will. […] So what do we do? Surround him with enemies all the time?” (1.4-6)
Well, that might sound like a terrible idea – hey, we have this kid, let’s surround him with enemies! – but that’s pretty much what they do. And this is in the very first chapter of the book. From the very beginning, we have the connection between Ender and isolation.
“Isolate him enough that he remains creative – otherwise he’ll adopt the system here and we’ll lose him. At the same time, we need to make sure he keeps a strong ability to lead.” (4.1)
This is both the administrators’ plan and their problem: they need someone who will be creative and find new solutions for old problems – so they isolate Ender. Yet they still need him to be able to deal with people and lead them. If they isolate Ender totally, good-bye social skills. In some ways, this captures the double-edged sword that is isolation: it has its upside (yay, creativity) and its downside (boo, lack of social skills and empathy). As we’ll see some more, this issue is tightly connected to Ender’s education/manipulation.
If Graff was setting him up, there’d be no help unless he helped himself. (4.62)
First, Graff wants Ender isolated from the kids so he doesn’t pick up their thought processes (which, yes, is a little strange, since these kids are supposed to be the super geniuses of the world – not bad folks to copy). Second, he also wants Ender isolated from the adults so Ender doesn’t rely on them. This comes up a bunch of times in the novel. For instance, Graff later says that Ender can’t have anyone who he looks up to as parents (5.16) and that Ender can’t expect help out during the war itself (5.5).