Study Guide

Ender's Game Chapter 1

By Orson Scott Card

Chapter 1


  • The chapter starts with two people discussing whether this one kid is right for their program. (You’ll notice that this opening section of the chapter has a slightly different font – so you aren’t going crazy if you thought something changed.) Are they murderers or kidnappers?
  • Well, they say that they need this kid to fight off the aliens, so… they’re probably in the military. Though we suppose they could be rogue advertisers, seeking the perfect kid for some illegal photo shoot.
  • They decide to try the kid out, even though his brother and sister didn’t work out. The secret ingredient here will be… isolation. Since this kid if a bit of a joiner, they’ll keep him independent by making everyone hate him.
  • Andrew “Ender” Wiggin gets his monitor out, which makes him think the military is no longer interested in him. He also thinks that getting his monitor removed will hurt because the nurse says it won’t. And adults always lie. And since this book is named after Ender, he’s probably right.
  • Ender hopes that his brother Peter will stop threatening to kill him now that he no longer has his monitor.
  • Brother? Kill him?  Yes, you read that right.
  • Back at school, Ender gets picked on by a bully named Stilson. (Though check this out: since he’s just had surgery, Ender has trouble remembering Stilson’s name and for a moment thinks that Stilson’s name is Peter (1.48). Orson Scott Card really wants us to know that Peter is a bully.)
  • We get clues that Ender is super-smart – he learned arithmetic when he was three, and he cracked the school’s computers. Did we say clues? These are more like giant neon signs: Ender is smart.
  • We also get told that Ender is a “Third” – he’s the third of three children in a world where having more than two kids is weird. So that’s why Ender gets picked on: because his classmates have a highly-developed sense of what the overpopulation of the world means. Or possibly because they’re just a bunch of bullies and jerks.
  • But it’s not Ender’s fault that his parents had three kids – the military asked them to have another kid after bro and sis didn’t work out.
  • Stilson and some friends jump Ender after school, but Ender tricks Stilson into single combat (oh, so gallant, like a story about knights) and then beats Stilson terribly (or maybe not so much a story about knights). Ender even kicks Stilson when he’s down, even though Ender knows that’s wrong.
  • And here’s why: “I have to win this now, and for all time, or I’ll fight it every day and it will get worse and worse” (1.78).
  • By the way, Ender is only six years old. (But instead of naptime, his school apparently has beat-down time.)
  • After beating Stilson and threatening the other kids, Ender goes off and cries. Ender worries that he’s just like angry, mean Peter. And he feels awful about that. (Although, let’s be honest: Stilson probably feels worse.)

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