Ender’s Game


Orson Scott Card

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Themes and Colors
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
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Ender’s Game, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Love, Empathy, and Destruction

Halfway through Ender’s Game, Ender Wiggin tells Valentine, his sister, his views on love and hate: “In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him.” This sentence can be said to sum up the paradox of Orson Scott Card’s novel: the deadliest warrior isn’t a warrior at all. Ender is a good, kind child who sincerely loves…

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Games, Computers, and Virtual Reality

Ever since Orson Scott Card published Ender’s Game in the 1980s, he’s been praised for his book’s descriptions of “futuristic” technology. Critics point to Card’s interest in games, computers, and virtual reality and how, in the last thirty years, these things have all become increasingly important parts of life. Children develop a taste for combat by playing violent video games, journalists express their political views to millions over the Internet, and even in the military…

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Morality and Survival

At the beginning of Ender’s Game, Ender Wiggin faces a difficult choice. He’s bullied by a schoolboy named Stilson, and one afternoon, Stilson pushes Ender, and Ender decides that he has no choice except to fight back. Ender gains the upper hand in the fight, and knocks Stilson to the ground. Ender realizes that he can either walk away and expect to face Stilson tomorrow, or kick him while he’s down, effectively winning…

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It’s no surprise that Ender’s Game deals extensively with the theme of a leadership. Almost all of the characters are in the military, so their very existence depends upon leading and following orders.

Early on, Card makes it clear that leadership can only be gained over time. When Ender arrives at Battle School, he has a hard time gaining his peers’ attention, let alone their loyalty—on the contrary, he’s bullied for his youth and because…

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Childhood and Growing Up

In interviews, Orson Scott Card has argued that adults simply don’t understand children. There was never a point in his life, he’s said, during which he felt like a “child”—in other words, he never thought in the simplistic, sentimental ways that children supposedly think. It’s no surprise that the author of Ender’s Game feels this way—there’s not a single child in the novel who thinks in the “simplistic terms” Card derides. Indeed, it takes us…

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Control, Manipulation, and Authority

It’s clear from Chapter 1 of Ender’s Game that Orson Scott Card’s novel takes place at a time when the governments of the world exercise harsh control over their own citizens. There seem to be three major powers in the world: America, controlled by the powerful Strategos; Russia, controlled by the equally powerful Polemarch; and the IF, supposedly controlled by both the Polemarch and Strategos, but in actuality controlled largely by administrators like…

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