Like most science fiction characters, Ender, Valentine, Peter, and the various military men who make up the cast of Ender's Game are types rather than fully drawn characters. Ender and Valentine are "innocents," innately good human beings who are victimized because of their goodness. At the end of the bugger war, Graff, Ender's military "keeper," explains that they needed someone of Ender's type: "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." He says that had Ender been the type who liked and understood war, it would never have worked. The former commander, Mazer Rackham adds, "It had to be a child." And Ender is a child, like all the other exploited children at the Battle School. They are "taught" by playing games, violent and dangerous games, but games nonetheless. Like all children, they want to win, and their military handlers encourage this childishly amoral desire. Ender wins the Bugger War by winning what he supposes are video games. When the reality of what he has done is explained to him, it nearly overcomes him. He withdraws to a darkened room and a drug-induced sleep, as do the other exploited child-commanders who served under him during the "games." Ultimately, Ender metamorphoses into another type, the penitent, as he roams the galaxy as a "speaker for the dead" atoning for his innocent genocide.
Even from an early age, Andrew "Ender" Wiggin knows he is different from all the children around him. He is the third child in his family, something rarely permitted in his overpopulated country. At six years old, he still wears the monitor the government has implanted to assess whether he is a good candidate for the International Fleet's Battle School. Only children whom the Fleet considers geniuses are so monitored. Because Ender is not just different but also smarter than his peers, he inspires their jealousy and harassment. To survive, he must learn to deal with a series of bullies, beginning with his older brother Peter and continuing with his schoolmate Stilson, his fellow Launchy Bernard, and finally the Battle School commander Bonzo. While he can outwit them one-on-one, when faced with a group he has to resort to physical force. To not just win but to prevent future attacks, Ender ruthlessly assaults and defeats these enemies. It is a lesson the military wants him to learn. As Ender thinks after fighting Bonzo: "Peter might be scum, but Peter had been right, always right; the power to cause pain is the only power that matters, the power to kill and destroy, because if you can't kill then you are always subject to those who can, and nothing and no one will ever save you."
Ender is not like Peter, however, although this is his constant fear. Peter had been too merciless and cruel to enter Battle School, while his sister Valentine had been too...
Ender's older brother, Peter, scares him to death. He is sneaky and manipulative and delights in threatening his younger siblings. Peter is particularly hostile towards Ender, jealous that the I.F. considers Ender superior after his own intelligence was unrecognized. (The Fleet eliminated Peter from their roster of Battle School candidates because of his sadistic nature.) At school, Peter torments other children by finding "what they most feared and [making] sure they faced it often." Peter's cruelty is disguised by his dark and handsome appearance and his ability to hide his actions. After Ender leaves home, Peter learns to act like adults expect him to. Valentine knows he has not really changed, however, for she sees evidence he has been torturing small animals. As he matures, however, Peter learns to be in total control of himself; he only acts out of self-interest, not anger or passion.
Peter understands how to use people's fears to get them to do what he wants. At first he uses this power to bully others, but then he learns to use it to influence people. Although manipulative, Peter is highly intelligent and ambitious. He tells Valentine that having control is "the most important thing to me, it's my greatest gift, I can see where the weak points are, I can see how to get in and use them." At twelve years old he knows that he wants to have control of "something worth ruling," and envisions himself as the person who can save mankind from...
A member of Ender's Launchy group, Alai is originally Bernard's best friend. Alai comes to appredate Ender's many talents and becomes leader of a group that includes both Bernard's m-group and Ender's outcasts. When Ender gets assigned to Salamander Army, Alai reveals his true friendship in a hug and a whispered "Salaam." "Whatever it meant to Alai, Ender knew that it was sacred; that he had uncovered himself for Ender, as Ender's mother had done, when he was very young." Alai's voice is the first Ender hears when he is finally allowed to work with others at Command School.
Major Anderson assists Colonel Graff in commanding the Battle School. Anderson runs the "games," and is upset when Graff disturbs their rules in order to develop Ender's potential. After Ender's fight with Bonzo, Major Anderson is promoted to colonel and takes over command of the Battle School. After the war, it is implied he will become commissioner of a football league.
The only girl and the best shooter in Salamander Army, Petra possesses enough courage to stand up to Bonzo. She befriends Ender and teaches him her sharpshooting skills. She later commands Phoenix Army while Ender is a member. She is a very good soldier, but cracks under the pressure of the Command School battles anyway. Her collapse reminds Ender he must remember the limitations of his commanders: "As he eased the pressure on them, he increased the pressure on himself."
Bean, the smallest soldier in Ender's Dragon Army, gets Ender's attention immediately by demonstrating his quick adaptation to instructions in the Battle Room. Not only is Bean smart, he is cocky and rebellious. Recognizing Bean's leadership potential, Ender treats Bean the same way Graff treated Ender—to toughen Bean and force him to separate from the others. Ender recognizes this, however, and thinks of Bean, "When the time is right you'll find that I'm your friend, and you are the soldier you want to be." Bean becomes one of Ender's best soldiers and leads one of his best platoons. Ender later reveals some of his worries to Bean and entrusts him with a special squad of Dragon Army. Bean joins Ender in the final game.
Ender first meets Bernard, a fellow Battle School candidate from France, on the shuttle transport. Bernard targets Ender for punishment because Graff has spoken so highly of him. Bernard attacks Ender on the shuttle, but Ender has adjusted more quickly to the null-gravity conditions. As a result, Ender accidentally breaks Bernard's arm in reaction to Bernard's blows. Bernard and his sadistic friends quickly become Ender's enemies at Battle School. Ender fights back using the computer, and later Bernard becomes one of Alai's group. His resentment continues, however, and he is present during the confrontation with Bonzo in the showers.
"Buggers" is the name humans have given to the insect-like organisms who have twice attacked the Earth. While they evolved on another planet, they could easily have developed on Earth, having a genetic makeup similar to that of Earth insects. They look like Earth insects but have internal skeletons. During the Second Invasion, Mazer Rackham discovered the key to defeating them was to destroy their queen. Their starships represent great technological know-how, but there is no evidence that they use any communication devices. They seem to be able to communicate with each other telepathically. Ender discovers this is...