Ender’s Game: Displays of Genocide Essay Example
Some of the most popular books and movies include genocide. Whether it is zombies, vampires, or aliens, people love hearing about the slaughtering of an invasive race with bravery and honor. They love seeing the “good guys” go through hardships and obstacles to come out victorious and beat the “bad guys”. The novel “Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card, is set in the future, where the citizens of Earth are in an ongoing war with the insectoid aliens, known as the “Buggers”.
During their first encounter with this new species, Earth won out of sheer luck, for they had no suitable intergalactic weapons, the second attack was wary, and now the military and government are preparing for a third and final chance to get rid of their competitors from outer space. However, in order to win the final battle, a military genius was needed. They believe Andrew “Ender” Wiggin was the perfect mix of his brother’s ferocity and his sister’s compassion. He joined battle school, where he was not only brutally treated by his fellow army members and teachers, but also learned skill and strategy thanks to practice games.
As the novel concluded, we learned that the final test which Ender took was actually the Third Invasion. Ender had massacred the entire Bugger race. Earth had won. Scott Card set the book up in a way which makes Ender's numerous accomplishments seem like a noble act of heroism, but by looking deeper into Ender Wiggin’s mindset and thoughts, we can uncover that this was as much of a crime as it was a victory. It was genocide. Throughout different parts in the book, Orson Scott Card portrays human tendency toward genocide using the conflict between the humans and the Buggers.
When Ender found that his final test was actually the ultimate battle, he realized that the Earth was finally free of its enemy, but he was to be blamed for the xenocide of millions. When we hear of situations including genocide, we immediately think we would never do anything like that. We believe it is inhumane to even think about mass murder just because others are different from us. However, this is not the case of Ender’s Game. When Ender annihilated the whole race of the Buggers, it was celebrated. This is mostly because Ender's battles were justified. We learn in the novel that Ender was oblivious to the fact that he was fighting a real war. When he was sending armies out to space and blasting the Buggers to smithereens, he believed it was all part of the game. Colonel Graff stated:
" You had to be a weapon, Ender. Like a gun, like the Little Doctor, functioning perfectly but not knowing what you were aimed at. We aimed for you. We're responsible. If there was something wrong, we did it."(Card 230)
We can infer by this quote that one of the reasons the International Fleet purposely chose a child and did not tell him what he was doing was to make sure his deeds seemed justified and he is not morally culpable. Scott Card carefully constructed the plot, to make genocide seem as if no one is responsible for it, and everyone remains innocent. Card takes even more advantage of the children when he uses their innocence by not telling the children what they are doing. One of the men in the battle room enthused, “You made the hard choice boy. End them or end us." Ender did not know he was making this choice, which made him an ignorant innocent.
Not specifically genocide, but the broad theme of killing is used multiple times in the text. Often, it is used in situations where killing is a form of “self-defence”. The society created in the novel strongly believed that the reason they should kill the buggers is because if they don't, these aliens will kill them. They believe they are defending themselves. We learn at the end of the novel that all the killing and genocide was unnecessary, for the buggers were never trying to harm humans, just communicate with them. Colonel Graff once told Ender:
“If one of us has to be destroyed, let's make damn sure we're the ones alive at the end. Our genes won't let us decide any other way.”(Card 196)
The mindset that if the buggers are going to harm them in any way, they would destroy the buggers, is one set into the minds of the society created by fear. Fear of pain, loss, and threat all played major roles in causing humans to be “thick headed” in their reasoning. Their paranoia soared to a whole new level, where they refuse to believe there is a different option. During the story, Ender had argued that they should try to understand the buggers before attacking them, but his theory was quickly shot down. During the first two invasions, Earth was on the verge of losing. Ever since then, we can theorize that they have been living in fear, waiting for the third invasion. This caused them to believe that in order to get rid of the problem, they must wipe it out completely.
The repetitive theme of killing is also conveyed through Ender’s personal journey. Many times during the course of the novel, Ender had to resort to threats or violence to stop people such as bullies. Stilson and Bonzo, for example, were characters which Ender eventually killed. By analyzing Ender’s thoughts, we know he did not want to kill them. He was not a merciless killer. While fighting against a bully by the name of Stiltson, Ender continued to fight even though his competitor was down. He "wanted to win all the next ones, too, right then, so [the bullies] would leave me alone."
The same thing happened with the fight against Bonzo in the showers. The most prominent reason that Ender would choose to think like this is due to how everyone around him is stuck in the mindset that when presented with violence, you should use violence. The deep desire for Ender to not have to go through any more pain led him to make irrational decisions. The worst part is these irrational decisions cause Ender to be celebrated, not punished. He is only a kid after all. During one point in the novel, Ender’s mother remarks :
"Putting the Stilson boy in the hospital? What would you have done if Andrew had killed him, given him a medal?"(Card 42)
Even though Ender clearly had made a wrong choice, Graff looked upon it as a success. This is one example of the many times in the story where killing or a near death experience is taken lightly. Scott Card not only talks about a society which accepts killing and genocide, but also includes how it plays a role in human’s mindset.
All in all, Ender's game conveys genocide in many different ways, such as using innocence to cover up the crime, labeling it as "self defence", and adding it to the personal lives of main characters. It portrays human tendency towards genocide and killing in numerous parts of the novel. “Ender’s Game” may take place in a science fiction world, but the way the characters act, and what they do, are just as what would happen in real life. If this is true, then stopping and analyzing different aspects of the moral and philosophical minds of humans can uncover many secrets.