Ender’s Game

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The Hive-Queen Pupa Symbol Analysis

The Hive-Queen Pupa Symbol Icon

Throughout Ender’s Game, Ender acts as an agent of destruction: the IF grooms him to be a perfect commander, capable of leading soldiers to glorious victory against any enemy, no matter how deadly. This culminates in the penultimate chapter of the book, in which Ender seemingly destroys the entire Bugger species in a large battle. In the final chapter, however, we discover that the Buggers have left behind a single hive-queen pupa, which they want Ender to care for. Ender, overcome with self-loathing at having exterminated an entire species, agrees to find a new home for the pupa. In a sense, the pupa—as small, smooth, and innocent as a newborn baby—symbolizes Ender’s rebirth as a force for peace, not war. Just as the Buggers will be reborn in a new planet, so Ender gets a miraculous “second chance” at being a good person.

The Hive-Queen Pupa Quotes in Ender’s Game

The Ender’s Game quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Hive-Queen Pupa. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Love, Empathy, and Destruction Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Tor edition of Ender’s Game published in 2008.
Chapter 15 Quotes

And always Ender carried with him a dry white cocoon, looking for a world where the hive-queen could awaken and thrive in peace. He looked a long time.

Related Characters: Andrew “Ender” Wiggin
Related Symbols: The Hive-Queen Pupa
Page Number: 324
Explanation and Analysis:

At the end of the novel, Ender makes a surprising discovery: a single Bugger cocoon, containing a new Queen fertile enough to repopulate the entire Bugger race. Ender learns that the Buggers have chosen him to repopulate their species—although he defeated them in battle, they've also sensed his love, compassion, and understanding. Ender goes out into outer space, looking for a place where the Buggers can live in peace.

Card doesn't describe (until later novels in the series) exactly how Ender goes about finding a new home for the Buggers. But the key sentence in the passage is, "He looked a long time." The past-tense might suggest that Ender's quest to repopulate the Bugger species eventually came to an end. But more importantly, Card makes it clear that it takes Ender a "long time" to find a home for the Buggers. Ender is atoning for his sins: punishing himself by working hard to help the Buggers. There's a kind of spiritual justice in the fact that Ender spends years carrying the cocoon: he's trying to balance out the years during which he was trained to kill the Buggers. In the end, however, Ender's good deeds (seemingly) outweigh his past sins.

Card's optimistic (and, it's sometimes suggested, highly religious) ending proves that Ender is a good man, not a monster. He has the potential to do evil—as all human beings do—but because he's also been blessed with the ability to love and work hard, he can overcome any evil he's done in the past.

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The Hive-Queen Pupa Symbol Timeline in Ender’s Game

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Hive-Queen Pupa appears in Ender’s Game. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 15: Speaker for the Dead
Love, Empathy, and Destruction Theme Icon
Games, Computers, and Virtual Reality Theme Icon
Morality and Survival Theme Icon
Leadership Theme Icon
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
Control, Manipulation, and Authority Theme Icon
...in which he once saw Peter’s face. Behind the mirror, Ender finds a large silky pupa. Ender intuits that this is the pupa of a queen bugger, ready to lay thousands... (full context)
Love, Empathy, and Destruction Theme Icon
Games, Computers, and Virtual Reality Theme Icon
Leadership Theme Icon
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
In the coming days, Ender takes care of the pupa. He also writes a book, collaborating with the Bugger queen herself. The book describes the... (full context)
Love, Empathy, and Destruction Theme Icon
Leadership Theme Icon
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
Control, Manipulation, and Authority Theme Icon
...introduces himself as Andrew Wiggin, speak for the dead. Throughout their journeys, Ender carries his pupa and looks for a new home where the hive-queen can live in peace. The book... (full context)