The End of Ender

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"It's not my idea of freedom to go live in the house of the people that I killed."

-From page 312 of Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game

 

This thought of Ender's is completely revealing, probably one of the most revealing in the novel.  The reader is constantly informed along with Ender that the buggers had no free thoughts, that only the queens could think, reason, and cause the populous to act.  After Ender kills the entire species of buggers without knowing it, he is seriously depressed, even though all this time everyone told him that they were brainless, they were not like people, only the queens could think, and he would just be killing a few intelligent beings to save millions.  However, Ender still calls them "people" here, and he is not just referring to the queens.  He is referring to every bugger he killed.  He knows that humanity is not always right in their actions or their thoughts because of all of his experiences at the Battle School and on Earth, so he thinks that they could also be wrong about the buggers.  Regardless of the buggers' intelligence levels, Ender sees them as people, an entire species that he has mercilessly destroyed.  Yet he hopes for redemption.  He moves on to the colony with Mazer and Valentine, becomes governor, and begins looking for a new site for another colony from Earth when he discovers the reason why he was able to see them in this light.  His thoughts were somehow connected to the buggers the whole entire time.  They knew exactly what was going on and what would happen to them, and even how it would happen.  Why would the queen bugger allow him to destroy them then?  And more interestingly, why would she leave the only chance of her species' survival in the hands of the boy who destroyed them in the first place?  Because she knew Ender and he knew them.  I'm sure the answer is much clearer in the following novels; however Card is still able to end this novel in such a way as to provide the perfect balance of answers and questions. 

 I believe that this thought of Ender's proves that he is not desensitized to killing.  If Ender did not care about the buggers at all, why would he want to repopulate their planets with humans, why would he want to learn from them, and most of all, why would he want their species to be recreated?  Card writes the following on page 298:

"'We had to have a commander with so much empathy that he would think like the buggers, understand them and anticipate them.  So much compassion that he could win the love of his underlings and work with them like a perfect machine, as perfect as the buggers.  But somebody with that much compassion could never be the killer we needed.  Could never go into battle willing to win at all costs.  If you knew, you couldn't do it. If you were the kind of person who would do it even if you knew, you could never have understood the buggers well enough.' 

'And it had to be a child, Ender,' said Mazer.  'You were faster than me.  Better than me.  I was too old and cautious.  Any decent person who knows what warfare is can never go into battle with a whole heart.  But you didn't know.  We made sure you didn't know.  You were reckless and brilliant and young.  It's what you were born for.'"

Graff and Mazer's descriptions of Ender here are perfect.  These comments display that without a doubt Ender is not completely desensitized by his actions because deep down even he knows that they were not really his actions but the actions of those around him that caused the destruction of the buggers and the humans he directed.  After the years of isolation, after the unknown killings he committed, and after the psychological program they put him through, Ender can still feel and care.  Someone who is desensitized by killing would not even care a little bit.  Even Ender's rational ultra-human thought processes do not allow him to ignore his moral feelings, which is why the novel ends with Ender planning to repopulate a world with buggers instead of with Ender going back to Earth to lead a 3rd world war or create a military dictatorship for his brother. 

I love that this is not the end for Ender.  Even if Card had not continued with the series, the book would still have a final ending for me.  The reader doesn't see Ender succumbing to the horrors he was taught, but instead is able to hope for and even act for peace. 

 

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