Ender's Game Summary
by Orson Scott Card

Ender's Game book cover
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Ender's Game Summary

Ender's Game is a science fiction novel by Orson Scott Card about Ender Wiggin, a brilliant child prodigy and mankind's best hope for victory in a war against an alien race.

  • Ender joins Battle School, where children are trained to become military leaders in the war against an advanced alien race.
  • The children practice strategy through mock battles and simulations. Ender proves to be a skilled commander, and his teachers prepare him for high command with increasingly difficult battle simulations.
  • Ender emerges victorious from his final test but is horrified when he discovers that the "simulations" he commanded were actually real battles.

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Summary

Each of the fifteen chapters in Ender’s Game opens with a conversation in which Ender’s progress is discussed. Most of the discussions are between two unnamed individuals, who are eventually revealed to be Ender’s instructors, Colonel Graff and Major Anderson.

Ender's Game begins in an elementary school on Earth, where a six-year-old boy named Ender is having an electronic monitoring device removed from his body. This monitor, which allows government officials to evaluate his suitability for military duty, has always marked Ender out as different from the other children, and he wonders whether, without it, he may now be viewed as normal by his classmates and be able to get on better with his older brother Peter—though he has his doubts about this. The removal is painful and Ender is disoriented when he returns to class, though he still finds the lesson on multiplication absurdly simple.

Ender is a third child. This is rare in his society, as parents need special authorization from the government to have more than two children. Ender’s family, the Wiggins, have received this permission in part because their children are so brilliantly intelligent. Other children at school bully Ender and call him a “Third,” and on the day when he has his monitor removed, Ender is bullied by a bigger boy named Stilson. When they fight, the unassuming Ender kicks Stilson hard and seriously hurts him, astonishing Stilson’s friends.

Ender is also bullied at home by his elder brother, Peter, who is ten. They play war games, one of which is called “Astronauts and Buggers.” Peter insists that Ender play a Bugger, since the Buggers never win. He pushes Ender to the floor and threatens to kill him, saying that he could escape punishment by pretending it was an accident. Their sister, Valentine, quickly intervenes, saying she would expose Peter’s lies. Later that night, Peter quite uncharacteristically says he loves Ender and is sorry for the pain caused by the removal of the monitor.

The next day, Ender’s family receives a visit from Colonel Hyrum Graff, director of the prestigious Battle School. Graff informs Ender that Stilson was seriously injured in their fight and asks why Ender beat him so savagely. Ender replies that he was simply thinking ahead and wanted to discourage Stilson from ever challenging him again. After hearing his reasoning, Graff announces that Ender has shown the potential to be a leader and offers him a place at Battle School, an institution that trains gifted children for military roles. Attending Battle School will mean leaving both Ender’s family and the planet Earth, as the school is situated in outer space. Ender is initially reluctant, but Graff persuades him, saying that his skills will be needed in mankind’s war against the Buggers, an advanced alien race that almost wiped out humanity in a previous war. Ender says goodbye to his family but is only really sorry to leave his sister, Valentine, whom he loves devotedly.

En route to Battle School, Ender goes through zero gravity training in a space shuttle filled with other young recruits. Ender quickly realizes that Graff is manipulating the children to make them fight, and Graff explains that he does this to render them more aggressive and effective soldiers. At Battle School, Ender attends classes in...

(The entire section is 1,607 words.)