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Ender's Game Free Online Study Guide/Book Notes Summary
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ENDER'S GAME BOOK SUMMARY

CONFLICT

Protagonist

“Ender” Wiggin is the protagonist, the main character, about whom the action revolves. The majority of the story is told as events occur to him, and all other characters have ties to him. While he must deal with his brother Peter, and concentrated fights with a few of the other boys (Stilson, Bernard, and Bonzo).

Antagonist

The buggers are seen as the overall antagonist-the character who stands in opposition to the protagonist. Although it is unclear why, they have fought humans in two other wars, and now humans are preparing for a third war in which they hope to defeat the buggers in order for the humans themselves to survive. However, Ender comes to see the adults as the real enemy. Graff makes sure that Ender learns that he can never count on an adult to come to his aid. Ender eventually comes to the conclusion, with the influence of Dink, that the adults are manipulating him, forcing him to become a killer.

Climax

The climax, the peak of action in a story which events have been building up to, comes when Ender uses Dr. Device on the bugger home planet. Although he expects to be reprimanded for the action, instead the adults celebrate. Then he is told that the battles have been real since he came to Command School. Thus, the buggers as an antagonist have been defeated, but the adults won, having deceived Ender into once again killing.

Outcome

The following chapters summarize what occurred afterwards, the outcome. Peter comes into power on Earth, where Ender is never allowed to return. Instead, Valentine and Ender go to the first colony on a previous bugger world, where Ender finds the hive queen and, learning that the buggers wish to live in peace, promises to find her a place to live again. Ender and Valentine then set out in search of a place.


SHORT PLOT / CHAPTER SUMMARY (Synopsis)

Ender’s Game starts out with two unnamed people talking, the one convincing the other that a boy is the one they are looking for; even if now he is malleable, they can change that by surrounding him with enemies. Then the novel switches to the story of Ender, a small six-year-old boy, who gets his monitor removed, a sign that he is no longer a candidate for a government program. This leaves him vulnerable to the school bully, Stilson, who, with his gang, surround Ender after school and begin picking on him, calling him a Third (a term for the third child born in a family, with government permission because of population restrictions). Ender realizes he must fight back, and so, when the other boys let go of him for a one-on-one fight with Stilson, Ender kicks Stilson just above the chest, taking him down. But Ender wants to end the fighting for good, so he keeps kicking Stilson, until (although Ender does not know it at the time) Stilson is dead. He warns the others, walks away, and cries because he thinks he is just like his older brother, Peter.

Back at home, Peter beats Ender up, but Valentine intervenes before it can get too bad, saying that she has evidence against him. Peter says one day he will kill Ender and although he tries to play it off, Ender and Valentine believe him. However, later that night, when Peter thinks Ender is asleep, he tells him that he is sorry about the monitor being removed, he understands, and that he loves him.

However, the next day, the arrival of a man from the International Fleet (I.F.) arrives at the house to get Ender to come to Battle School, a training school for children to fight in the war against the buggers (an alien race that has attacked humans unsuccessfully twice before). The man, Colonel Graff, says that it is Ender’s choice, that Battle School will not be easy, and that he will be away from Valentine for a long time. Ender does not want to go but eventually says he will. Ender says goodbye to his family and leaves with Colonel Graff, with Valentine crying out to him as he does.

On the launch on the way from Earth to Battle School, Ender learns how he can reorient directions in zero gravity. Because of this, Graff singles him out as the only competent one, and the other children turn against him. When one of the boys starts hitting Ender in the head, Ender grabs his arm and, because of the lack of gravity, propels him into a wall, breaking the boy’s arm. At the end of the launch, Ender is hurt because of Graff’s intentional move to make the other boys dislike Ender, but Graff tells him that he is interested in producing the best soldiers in the world, and Ender will just have to become great now. When Ender is gone though, Graff admits that he is Ender’s friend and he feels bad for what he is about to put the boy through.

At the Battle School, Ender and the other boys pick bunks and get settled in. Dap, their mother figure at the school, comes in and tells them that there is no deliberate injury allowed at Battle School, or else that person gets iced out-kicked out. Ender is isolated through dinner in the mess hall, where giant scoreboards show team standings. One of the older boys warns Ender not to end up like him, and Ender is certain that he will not, although he is missing his family and wishing he could go home. Things turn around for Ender when he is able to beat one if the older kids at a video game with techniques that had not been used before. Also, Ender is able to make friends by sending a message (something none of the other boys have figured out how to do) making fun of Bernard, the kid whose arm Ender broke and who has since formed a group like Stilson had. Bernard is furious about the message, but Dap will not do anything about it. Shen, the boy who Ender had defended by sending the message, and some other Launchies join Ender for breakfast.

The first time they enter the battleroom, where the armies fit in battles in zero gravity, the Launchies have some difficulty learning how to move about. Ender and Alai are the first to figure out how to use their guns to freeze people, and, with Bernard and Shen, they freeze everyone else. Alai thus becomes Ender’s best friend and the leader of the Launchies in Bernard’s place. Ender is meanwhile obsessed with a fantasy game, in which he has become stuck at a point when a Giant gives him a choice between two drinks and no matter which he chooses, he dies. Ender, becoming frustrated, attacks the Giant by digging out his eyes. Although with the Giant is thus dead, Ender gets to Fairyland, he is so distraught over killing in what was supposed to just be a game, that he does not bother exploring.

Ender is suddenly transferred to the Salamander Army, which upsets him because he was happy with the Launchies. Alai tells him they will always be friends regardless of the transfer, and he kisses Ender on the cheek, with the word “Salaam”. Ender does not understand, but knows it is a sacred moment. He leaves, and plays the fantasy game, in which he is able to make it to a tower room at “The End of the World”. Before he can play much farther, he is called to Salamander Army barracks. Ender is small in comparison to the others and becomes friends with Petra, the other outcast in the group because she is a girl. She offers to give Ender practice in the mornings, because it is clear that his commander, Bonzo Madrid, does not want him and will not let him practice with the army. Ender also begins practicing with the Launchies again in order to get better, despite Bonzo’s disapproval. During battles though, Ender follows Bonzo’s orders and does nothing, until he is able to turn a battle from a defeat to a draw. He is then traded to Rat Army, but not before Bonzo beats him up as a reprimand for disobeying him, which leads Ender to take a personal combat course.

It turns out that Dink Meeker, one of the toon commanders in Rat Army had requested Ender. He trains Ender and makes him a part of the toon. After practice one day though, Ender stays back and watches Dink, who floats about in zero gravity for awhile. He tells Ender that it is prevent himself from going crazy, which Battle School can do to children; they are not like the children back home. Dink does not even think the bugger war is real, but rather a ploy to keep things on Earth united. While Ender does not believe him, it does make him question things more. His additional practices with the Launchies continue but some of the older boys begin picking on them. When it turns into a fight in zero gravity, the other Launchies are able to escape and Ender fights his way out. The teachers do nothing in response but the other commanders send some of their soldiers to protect them during practice and encourage Ender to continue. Aside from that fight, Ender also becomes disturbed at the fantasy game, which shows him a picture of Peter when he looks in the mirror.

Back on Earth, the actual Peter seems to be doing better, enjoying school and getting along with others, since the family moved. Valentine knows better, having seen squirrel body in the woods that Peter had pinned and watched while it died. He has also been using his spare time to monitor Russian troop movements and is convinced that the Earth will go to war once the bugger threat is gone. He wants Valentine to help him come up with identities on the nets so that they can write to influence the public mind and be taken seriously, since then no one would know they are children. In this way, he can prevent the war from escalating. He even admits to his own fear of becoming as cruel and evil as Valentine thinks he is, and, while she is not sure if he means it or not, she is sure that she is more powerful than him, so she agrees. They take on the identities of Locke and Demosthenes, and each writes the column that is in opposition to their actual views. The columns gradually gain in popularity.

Ender is unhappy at Battle School, because he has respect but not friendship, and feels despair when he cannot beat the fantasy game. Colonel Graff therefore talks to Valentine, asking for her help in making Ender happy again. He wants her to write a letter, and this one will be given to Ender, unlike all the previous ones she had written. Although she is hesitant, she does so. When Ender gets it, he cries because it means that even his memory of Valentine has been destroyed. He returns to the fantasy game, in which the snake turns into Valentine, and he walks out of the tower room with her. Graff is pleased with Ender’s mental recovery but Valentine is upset over selling out her brother.

Ender is put in charge of his own army, a new one called Dragon Army, with mostly untrained soldiers. Ender is determined to make them good, but in doing so, soon finds himself treating his best soldier, Bean, the same way Graff had treated him. Along with other new rules, Ender is also no longer able to practice with his old Launchie friends and now things between himself and Alai are more distant as they have become competitors.

Dragon Army is put into an early and rigorous series of battles, all of which they win, which does not help maintain Ender’s previous friendships. He begins watching old videos of the bugger wars in order to learn from their techniques. He also asks Bean to create a small group and have them try out everything Bean can think of, even if it seems stupid. One of the things they discover is that by using a thin wire, they are able to change directions quickly in midair, a technique that they are able to use in battle.

Returning from practice, Ender notices a number of boys in the halls acting suspicious. Petra and Dink both warn him that he is in danger; Bonzo has a grudge against him and intends to hurt him. Ender does not think too much about it, trusting the teachers to keep him safe. Meanwhile, Dragon Army keeps winning battles, having become a united and skilled army. Tired after yet another battle, Ender goes to the gym and starts to shower, not realizing that he is alone. Bonzo and a group of other boys corner him in the shower, but, once again, Ender is able to talk Bonzo into a one-on-one fight. Dink arrives and tries to prevent the fight but the other boys hold him back.

Ender and Bonzo fight, until Ender is able to bring his head up into Bonzo’s face and then kick him in the crotch. Bonzo falls (dead), and while the medical staff and his friends rush in, Dink leads Ender away. Ender now realizes that no one will ever come to his aid, and then he cries because he did not want to hurt Bonzo. He is so upset over the fight that when his army is given instructions later that day to fight against two armies at once, he sends his soldiers over to the gate to perform the victory ceremony without bothering to fight. He thus wins, but no longer cares about the game. As he lays in his room, Bean comes to tell him that the leaders of the Dragon Army have all been given positions in other armies. Ender soon receives news of his own advancement; he has graduated and will be sent to Command School.

Before going to Command School, Graff and Ender spend some time at a lakefront house in North Carolina where Ender can relax. Graff brings Valentine out to see him in hopes that she can help with Ender’s mental recovery. Ender tells her that he is tired of the manipulation and does not want to kill anymore because in the moment he defeats an enemy, he loves them. Valentine, however, tells him that she is concerned about herself, and she wants Ender to protect her from the buggers as she used to protect him from Peter. Ender decides to return, having now also learned to love Earth. On the trip out to Command School, he talks with Graff about the buggers, of which little is known, but both agree that they want to be the ones to survive.

Command School is on a former bugger world, Eros, and its design makes Ender uncomfortable. He is given a teacher-Mazer Rackham, the commander who had been victorious against the buggers in a previous war. He shows Ender more of the bugger way of fighting, as well as about Dr. Device, a weapon that destabilizes things to the size of dirt particles. Instead of the Battle Room, Ender runs through scenarios on a simulator. As he becomes more skilled, squadron leaders (which turn out to be his friends from Battle School) are added, whom he can communicate with. Although he is not allowed to ever see them, he learns their strengths and weaknesses, and how to command them. The pressure builds, with increasingly more difficult battles, causing Ender to have restless nights, pass out during practice, and eat little. Finally he is told it is his last day, with the battle being his final examination. The screen shows a bugger force that completely outnumbers his human fleet. Ender then stops caring about the rules and sees a way out, to prevent himself from becoming a commander. He maneuvers so that he can use the device on the planet, completely destroying it and wiping out the bugger fleet. Although he expects to be reprimanded for this action, the adults around him are instead cheering. Mazer Rackham explains to him that since he got to Command School, the battles had been real, and now the buggers are gone. Ender leaves the room and sleeps, furious at having been tricked into being a killer.

He sleeps through the fighting on Earth, which is ended by a Locke Proposal, put forth by Peter. When he does awake, he sees his friends, but one by one they return to Earth, and he does not. Graff becomes the new Minister of Colonization, ending the population limitation laws and sending out people to colonize former bugger colonies. This brings Valentine to Eros, where she tells Ender that she has made sure he can never return to Earth so that Peter will not be able to use him. Instead, she talks him into coming with her to the first new colony, with Ender serving as governor.

On that colony, Ender discovers a landscape built by the buggers to imitate the fantasy game. It is their way of communicating with him, in order to lead him to their still-surviving hive queen, who explains how the buggers regret the misunderstanding with the humans. Ender promises to find them a world where they can once again live. He also starts a kind of religion, as a Speaker for the Dead, telling the true story of the buggers, Peter, and others when they die.

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