Ender's Game Questions and Answers
by Orson Scott Card

Ender's Game book cover
Start Your Free Trial

What lesson does Ender learn from Bonzo Madrid about being a commander?

Expert Answers info

englishprof1564 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2018

write135 answers

starTop subjects are Literature and History

From watching Bonzo Madrid, Ender learns both from what Bonzo lacks and what he does well. Bonzo's skill is in organization and discipline. When he becomes a commander, Ender incorporates an emphasis on order and hierarchy into his system with Dragon Army. However, Bonzo is also short-tempered and acts tyrannical, such as when he makes the foolish rule that Ender cannot participate in the battles in spite of his skill. Ender's approach to leadership is different in that, after a short period of drill sergeant-style behavior, he generally shows respect to his subordinates and trusts them to carry out the assignments he gives. He does not allow his emotions to overcome him or affect his relationship with his army. Ender is capable of thinking of the same person both as a model and as a warning.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

clairewait eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2010

write2,328 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and Science

What Ender learns from Bonzo is based on Bonzo's mistakes, rather than his strengths.  Ender primarily learns what not to do from Bonzo.

Here are a couple of specifics:

  1. Operate under cool anger, rather than hot anger.  Don't let your anger consume you - but use it to fuel intelligent decisions.
  2. An atmosphere of fear and threat might bring a group together, but it doesn't necessarily optimize performance.
  3. It is important to know each member of your army.
  4. Complete control isn't necessary for winning battles - in fact, it is almost unrealistic as it is too inhibiting.

On the positive side, Bonzo does do a couple of things that Ender later realizes were effective:

  1. Neat and orderly barracks minimize stress and create a comfortably controlled environment.
  2. A sense of unity (within the army) can be achieved through rehearsed group responses.  (However, this appearance of unity does not necessarily mean it exists.  If it does exist, this practice can enhance it.)

check Approved by eNotes Editorial