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ENDER'S GAME STUDY GUIDE
SYMBOLISM / MOTIFS / IMAGERY / SYMBOLS
Although it is only with Ender for the first part of the novel, at that point it has come to represent safety and assurance that nothing bad will happen to him. It is constant adult supervision of his life. The removal of the monitor means that he is on his own and that no one will come to his aid, regardless of how serious the danger is to himself or others.
The squirrel that Peter tortures in the woods is a symbol for Peter himself-his cruelty, combined with a desire to control and manipulate those around him. Peter, as evident from his appearance in the mirror in the fantasy game as well as Enderís talk with Valentine on the lake in North Carolina, symbolizes to Ender several things. First of all, he is an enemy that Ender cannot defeat. But he is also what Ender fears to become; he consistently compares himself to Peter to warn himself against going too far.
Ender becomes obsessed with winning the fantasy game, which is designed to develop a meaning between the child and the computer. Enderís murder of the Giant is one example of how, when faced with limited options, he wants to keep going and will strike out in any way possible. Furthermore, the scenes in the tower room symbolize Enderís more evil actions; for example, his departure with Valentine from the room to the cheering of the people with Peterís face, roughly parallels their leaving from Eros, where all the people praised Enderís destruction of the buggers.
Previously a bugger world, the place symbolizes for Ender the death of the buggers, as well as the future. Ender had said that he loves his enemy at the time he kills them; Eros is the mythological figure of love and it is while here that he is fighting them. Eros also foreshadows the human spread over bugger worlds, which the hive queen welcomes as she forgives mankind. Also, Enderís long period of sleep amidst the bugger-built tunnels and rooms parallels the hive queenís dormant state on what will become Enderís World.
As the first time Ender kills, or even fights for that matter, Stilson is a reoccurring figure in Enderís mind. To him, Stilson represents the lesson of fighting once, and taking it as far as it must go to make sure he does not need to fight again. Stilson also haunts Enderís dreams since, even though he was not told, a part of Ender knows that he killed Stilson. Therefore, he is also a symbol of the murders of which Ender was the unwilling committer.
The references made to historical figures, both by Colonel Graff and by the children themselves, symbolizes the extent of the childrenís power and capabilities. It also makes them seem less child-like, but rather with a degree of aloofness and superiority that is associated with those large figures in the past. Locke and Demosthenes, the pen names that Peter and Valentine take on, symbolize Peter and Valentine to a certain extent. Although they start off representing the childís opposite view, in taking on the identity, each comes to adopt the other perspective themselves. Peter becomes the one to put forth a compromise for peace, reflecting Lockeís reasonable views while Valentine understands Demosthenesí need to avoid those in power in order to prevent repercussions.
Enderís army, Dragon, is associated with fire, showing a connection between the Salamander and Phoenix armies, both of which he served in previously. The dragon is a symbol for Ender because of its complex nature; it can capture both Enderís intelligence and violence. Salamanders are known for their ability to regenerate limbs. This could metaphorically be applied in any number of ways. For instance, the army itself lost a toon leader when Ender was promoted into it, but Ender grows in his ability and proves himself valuable. Another way would be that Ender is cut off from his old group, as he was starting to fit into it, and now must grow as a soldier.
In general, the games symbolize reality. Ender must wear a bugger mask when he plays with Peter, foreshadowing how he will come to understand and sympathize with the buggers. At Battle School, the games consume the childrenís lives, so much so that they stop acting like children on Earth and assume the role of commanders. The fantasy game reveals much of the inner turmoil in Enderís life. Finally, the games he plays at Command School turn out to be real, so that the image he sees actually does mean the destruction of the buggers.Table of Contents | Message Board | Downloadable/Printable Version