Study Guide

Ender's Game Community

By Orson Scott Card

Community

Chapter 2
Peter and Valentine Wiggin

“Ender, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I know how it feels, I’m sorry, I’m your brother, I love you.” (2.76)

OK, we’re kind of being big old softies here: instead of quoting the times when Peter fights or threatens Ender, we’ve pulled this one quote where Peter expresses some warmth towards Ender. But that’s just it – this is almost the only time that Peter does this. The rest of the time, Peter reminds Ender that he doesn’t want a little brother. The funny twist here is that Peter says he knows how it feels, so there’s actually is a very important shared feeling between them.

Chapter 5
Mick

"Listen, little guy. I'm doing you a favor. Make friends. Be a leader. Kiss butts if you've got to, but if the other guys despise you – you know what I mean?" (5.74)

This is Mick’s terrible advice to Ender. But there’s one thing that Mick gets right, which is that at the Battle School, you need to have a team – you need some friends to watch your back. (This is shown to be the case especially in the zero-gravity battleroom, where you need to have someone to push off against.) After all the talk about isolation and how it will help Ender be creative, it’s useful to hear someone forcefully make the opposite argument: Ender will need people.

Chapter 10

Alai was already gone. Ender felt as if part of himself had been taken away, an inward prop that was holding up his courage and confidence. (10.185)

We like to think about this quote in terms of community because it really shows the cost involved in not having (or losing) one – especially if someone joins another community. In this quote, Ender has gotten control over Dragon Army, and that screws up his relationship with his old friends. So he’s losing one social group pretty much just because he gained another. (Which we’re sure never happens in real-life schools. Right?)

Chapter 11

They were always trying to arouse pride in human accomplishments and loathing of the buggers, but Ender began to wonder how humanity had won at all. Human ships were sluggish; fleets responded to new circumstances unbearably slowly, while the bugger fleet seemed to act in perfect unity, responding to each challenge instantly. (11.112)

This quote shows us a few forms of belonging. On one hand, there are the buggers, with their total commitment to the community. (In this case, we’re thinking of the fleet/hive as a community – although you could argue that the fleet/hive is really just one organism.) On the other hand, there’s the feeling that the videos of the bugger wars are trying to give the viewer – a sense of community for the entire human species. Does that work on Ender? Is there some way to make an entire species feel like one big, happy family?

After that, if he had asked them to follow him to the moon without space suits, they would have done it. (11.103)

Ender has just told Dragon Army that they can deal with anything – even with the administrators’ unfair schedules. This could be seen to be flattery, or maybe it’s just telling the truth. (After all, Dragon Army can handle anything as long as Ender’s in charge.) We’ve pulled this quote for how it seems to place Ender in a community (he’s totally trusted) but also puts him somewhat outside of it. After all, the way he wins over his army is almost like the way Dap wins over the Launchies (see 5.33) – and that’s clearly a case in which someone is standing outside (or above) the community. This issue will also come up between Ender and his friends: when you’re a commander, you’re not really just one of the guys.

Chapter 12

He wanted to go back home, back to the Battle School, the only place in the universe where he belonged. (12.251)

After all the torture that Ender endures at Battle School, it's surprising to hear him think this about that place. Sure, being in zero gravity is cool, but being isolated and attacked by bullies is the dictionary definition of <em>not</em> cool. So why does Ender suddenly feel like the Battle School is the place he belongs? Is it just an issue of the physical environment? (After all, Ender is used to the weird gravity of the Battle School, which is pretty different from Earth.) Or is Ender missing something of the social community as well? Does he miss living in a place where people share some feelings and hobby? Is that enough to form a community?

Chapter 13
Colonel Hyrum Graff

"If the other fellow can't tell you his story, you can never be sure he isn't trying to kill you." (13.282)

In this section, we’ve been thinking about several possible roots for communities. Maybe you can form a community with people who share your hobbies. Or maybe you can only form one with people who treat you as an equal. In this quote, Graff offers maybe the most basic requirement for a community: the people in it are able to communicate with each other. That makes the buggers’ telepathy perhaps the ultimate form of community; instead of having to talk about what they’re feeling or thinking, they simply transmit the feeling or thought: “What one thinks, another can also think; what one remembers, another can also remember” (13.280).

“Our genes won't let us decide any other way. Nature can't evolve a species that hasn't a will to survive. Individuals might be bred to sacrifice themselves, but the race as a whole can never decide to cease to exist.” (13.286)

This is Graff’s theory of the species and the individual. What’s important, according to Graff, is that genes live on. Again we get a notion of something like a community – here we have individuals sacrificing themselves for the species, which those individuals can never know in a direct way. Seriously: can you meet all humans? You’d have to have a lot of free time. Yet, even without meeting everyone in the species, Graff seems to think that the species makes some demands on the individual. This sounds a little bit like a community. As you can see, this book covers many different kinds of communities, from the small (the family) to the large (the species).

Graff reached out and touched his hand across the aisle. Ender stiffened in surprise, and Graff soon withdrew, but for a moment Ender was struck with the startling thought that perhaps Graff felt some affection for him. (13.206)

While Ender mostly thinks about his failure to form a community with other kids and his family, there’s this one set of relationships that he doesn’t think about so much: his relations with the teachers of the Battle School. Or, rather, when he <em>does</em> think about the teachers, he considers them the enemy. But here Graff’s mask slips slightly and we see his affection for Ender. (It helps that Graff has told others that he’s Ender’s friend and he thinks Ender is a great kid.) Ender and Graff will never be very close, but there’s a sense of a possible relationship here – which Ender is not entirely comfortable with.

Chapter 14

For the first time, Ender had found a living mind he could admire. (14.82)

This is Ender’s thought on meeting Mazer Rackham – here’s a guy he can really relate to, since they’re both super geniuses and outcasts. If we were making a score sheet and counting points for each idea of community in this book – and we are – then this would be another point scored for the idea that you can only form a community with someone who’s your equal.