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A Review of Ender's Game: Ender Wiggin and Bullying

Updated on February 17, 2014
WVitanyi profile image

William has written five books, on topics ranging from technological fiction to office humor, and is the owner of Bayla Publishing.

Ender's Game: The Plot

The survival of the human species is threatened by a potential third and final assault by an ant-like alien species from a distant planet. Although a massive fleet of star ships is constructed to meet the anticipated attack, an even greater need is for someone to command them.

Gifted Children as Commanders

Command at the interstellar combat level demands a special combination of strategic thinking, spatial awareness, and creativity that is found but rarely in humans. In fact, the search for the "One" focuses on gifted young children, who are guided through a series of training games that take place in a specially designed Battle Room. The children learn to apply the rules of their future combat environment in these gravity-free simulators, while the International Fleet seeks its grand master.

Ender is Bullied Early in Life

Andrew "Ender" Wiggin is a six-year-old boy at the start of the story. Both of his siblings, a brother and a sister, are tested for command duty, and show promise, but ultimately are not accepted. In a world where it is not permitted to have more than two children, an exception is granted so that Ender can be born.

This relegates Ender to the status of "Third", which comes with its share of derision and bullying, especially from his brother, who is a tyrant towards Ender. This is in stark contrast to his sister, Valentine, who loves Ender dearly. In fact, it was she who gave him his nickname, a botched pronunciation of “Andrew”. To him, she is the world.

Ender’s Strategy

For a child, Ender possesses an uncanny strategic vision, as evidenced by an early encounter with an older boy at school. When teased by the boy and his gang, Ender surprises him with a kick to the chest, which knocks him down. In a calculated move, Ender then proceeds to viciously kick the semi-conscious boy while he lies helpless on the ground. He explains his actions later:

"Knocking him down won the first fight. I wanted to win all the next ones, too, so they'd leave me alone."

Escaping Bullying?

This is a powerful thought for a bullied six-year-old. It is an adult thought, and a very strategic one, and it decides his fate. Such natural strategic comprehension will be required to defend the species. Ender is offered an opportunity to go to Battle School, which he accepts, not least because it will get him away from the bullying of school and his brother.

A Global Effort

In the story, the military-industrial complex is now at the forefront of the effort to preserve the species, following a devastating series of attacks by the "Bugs". Global political infighting temporarily takes a back seat as the greater threat asserts itself, but the planned "defense" of the planet, dependent upon the military messiah yet to be identified, is subject to another agenda. As with any great yarn, not is all as it seems.

Overcoming Bullies

The search for the "One" is dependent upon the games, which are carefully orchestrated in the high-tech Battle Rooms. As Ender progresses from six-year-old Battle School recruit to platoon leader to Command School, he endures just as much bullying as he would have had he remained on Earth. Perhaps that is part of his life lesson, that bullies are found everywhere. He tends to deal with each of them the same way, overcoming them with brute force and superior cunning, the very skills that will be needed to defeat the Bugs.

Mazer Rackham

For his final exam at Command School, at the ripe old age of eleven, Ender is put to the ultimate test as he takes on a simulation prepared by the legendary Mazer Rackham, hero of the war against the Bugs. Commanders watch his progress with only one question: will his training and innate abilities be enough to prevail over the Bugs?

Bullying: A National Crisis

I read this book about a year before the movie based on it was announced. At the time, I felt it was the best science fiction story I had read in years. When the movie came out I was not surprised, but hopefully it does the book justice. There is enormous potential here, not just for outstanding special effects, but because there is such a powerful personal drama behind the main character. The issue of bullying has garnered substantial national attention in recent years, and such behavior, and the victim’s response to it, is a central theme of “Ender’s Game”.

Defending the Bullied

As Ender shows, bullies tend to back down when confronted with equal or superior force and cunning, but Ender is exceptional, and is highly independent. In fact, it is his exceptionality that draws attention from bullies, and his individual nature that leads him to take action, even in the face of long odds. Perhaps the lesson here is less for the bullied, and more for those who witness it. If someone is bullied, bully the bully. Bring force to bear. Defend the victim, whatever it takes. Make it stop, because bullying is terrorism on an individual level.

Ender’s Game Compelling

“Ender’s Game” is a compelling science fiction tale, a life lesson, and a dramatic story of interpersonal relationships, not to mention inter-species intrigue, with an ending that will surprise you. For those who have been bullied, Ender Wiggin will be a figure to relate to, and his victories all the sweeter.

Ender's Game: Movie Review

It is a rare thing when a great book is followed by a movie that comes close to doing it justice, both in quality and adherence to story line. Ender's Game the movie does both.

The book is so good that equaling it would be an unreasonable expectation, but to come close is an accomplishment.There were a couple areas that could have been more explicitly covered, such as the aliens' thought process upon realizing that humans are sentient, and the technology (ansible) that allowed humans to communicate instantly over cosmic distances. Nevertheless, both the effects and the narrative were quite true to the story.

The music was low-key, but it worked well in setting a somber tone. The acting was good, with Harrison Ford and Asa Butterfield both offering a solid performance. Even knowing how it all was going to play out, I still enjoyed the unfolding drama. Special effects were good, but I would have liked to see more of the training battle room.

I strongly recommend that you read the book, then watch the movie. Both are worth it.


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    • WVitanyi profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Edinboro, Pennsylvania

      Thanks for the comment, Teaches. I'm looking forward to it as well. Harrison Ford seems well-cast.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      5 years ago

      I do want to view this film as I have heard from others that it is a very good watch. Thanks for the review, I will now see the film with better interpretation.

    • carlajbehr profile image

      Carla J Swick 

      5 years ago from NW PA

      This is a very thorough and well-written review - in fact, it makes me want to read the book and/or see the movie myself and I'm not even a sci-fi fan. It is excellent how you brought the review full circle by covering the very relevant topic of bullying. Very, very well done!

    • DATALOAD profile image


      5 years ago from Michigan

      This looks really interesting. Thanks for the complete review.


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