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Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

How many times does someone say that the enemy’s gate is down in Ender’s Game? Oh, maybe, nine times or so. (Here are a few of them: 7.255, 7.277, 7.281, 10.57, and 14.352.) Well, we could say that the phrase just appears a lot and that’s that. But we think there’s something bigger behind the phrase: an interest in perspective. That is, one of the big issues in this book is point of view.

For instance, check this out: what’s the first line in the book? “I’ve watched through his eyes” (1.1). Wow. That pretty much proves it, right? We could just stop there. But, no, we’ll go on.

One of the big issues with Ender is that he can see the world as his enemies see it. This causes him all sorts of problems because then he sympathizes with his enemies. Ender has this super power so much that he can almost empathize with the buggers before he’s even met any: when he puts on the bugger mask in Chapter 2, he realizes that, to them, this mask is a face and they must see the world differently than we humans do. Sounds like an issue of point of view to us.

Actually, Ender’s siblings seem to have this power also, which is how they’re able to manipulate people: Peter understands what people fear and Val understands what people want. This ability also helps Val to get more into the role of Demosthenes because she can see things through this “character’s” eyes (13.39), though she doesn’t always want to.

Point of view is really related to identity. Or at least, that’s what it seems like when Ender tries to figure out the center of the bugger fleet: he eventually notices that “the eyes of the fleet” are the same as “the I of the fleet” (14.122). And the ending of the book comes when Ender starts to understand how the buggers see the world – which they can tell him because they’ve seen how he sees it (through his memories and dreams).

In other words, maybe Graff is right. Graff notes that peace can be made when you can tell the other person your side of the story – when you can make the aliens see things from your perspective. We think that’s good advice even if aliens aren’t involved.

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