by Orson Scott Card
Ender's Game Theme of Isolation
Ender is the loneliest little boy in the whole galaxy. That’s pretty much all we need to say about the issue of isolation in Ender’s Game. But, OK, we’ll go on. He’s lonely at Battle School since he’s made fun of and has no friends. He’s even lonely at home since his parents aren’t around and his brother hates him (at least he has sis). At school, the administrators purposefully isolate Ender because they think he’ll come up with more interesting battle strategies if he has no friends. The weird thing is that it works. In Ender’s Game, we may feel bad for Ender about his isolation, but we also are reminded of the positive side to isolation.
Questions About Isolation
- In many novels about school, the big scary issue is conformity: you don’t want to fit in too well because that means losing your unique identity. This comes up in Ender’s Game because the administrators are worried that Ender will conform. Do the admins make a good case for the dangers of conformity? Or does the book make the case for conformity by noting how alone and unhappy Ender always is?
- The admins of the Battle School want to isolate Ender so he remains creative, but they also need him to be able to lead. How do they isolate him? And how do they make sure that he can lead?
- Ender is prepared to come up with creative solutions through isolation, but Val and Peter prepare themselves by collaboration. Are Val and Peter as prepared to lead as Ender is? Could the army simply have drafted Val and Peter and kept them together as a unit? Would that have worked as well as isolating Ender?
- Ender is probably the most isolated character in the book, but are other characters also isolated? How does the book show us that these characters are?