In Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game, how do you know Ender lacks faith in adults and has negative feelings for them?

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kipling2448 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Orson Scott Card’s science fiction novel Ender’s Game, there is no doubt that Ender distrusts adults, and there is no question, based upon text early in the novel, that his attitude is fully justified.  In the novel’s opening, six-year-old Andrew “Ender” Wiggins is about to undergo a surgical procedure to have a monitor removed from the back of his neck.  Informed by the medical professional attending him that the procedure is painless, Ender is skeptical of that claim.  As described in the following passage, Card provides early indications that adults cannot be trusted:

“The monitor lady smiled very nicely and tousled his hair and said, ‘Andrew, I suppose by now you're just absolutely sick of having that horrid monitor. Well, I have good news for you. That monitor is going to come out today. We're going to just take it right out, and it won't hurt a bit.’

“Ender nodded. It was a lie, of course, that it wouldn't hurt a bit. But since adults always said it when it was going to hurt, he could count on that statement as an accurate prediction of the future. Sometimes lies were more dependable than the truth.”

Ender’s cynicism regarding adults is further reinforced at Battle School, when Petra, the sole female member of his team, or “jeesh,” instructs the newcomer on the obstacles he will henceforth face:

“Ender understood more than she said. Manipulation of gravity was one thing; deception by the officers was another; but the most important message was this: the adults are the enemy, not the other armies. They do not tell us the truth.”

Skepticism regarding adults is well-founded.  Ender’s recruitment into the military is no accident; it was planned well-in-advance by the grown-ups who control society.  Colonel Graff, in discussing his plans to recruit Ender, which will involve removing him from his family, discusses the potential obstacle in his way – Ender’s loving sister Valentine:

"Obviously. But the connection is there Ender Wiggin must believe that no matter what happens, no adult will ever, ever step in to help him in any way. He must believe, to the core of his soul, that he can only do what he and the other children work out for themselves. If he does not believe that, then he will never reach the peak of his abilities."

"The sister is our weak link. He really loves her."

"I know. She can undo it all, from the start. He won't wont to leave her."

"So, what are you going to do?"

"Persuade him that he wants to come with us more than he wants to stay with her."

"How will you do that?"

"I'll lie to him."

"And if that doesn't work?"

"Then I'll tell the truth. We're allowed to do that in emergencies. We can't plan for everything, you know."

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