Ender's Game Characters

The main characters in Ender's Game are Ender Wiggin, Peter Wiggin, Valentine Wiggin, Colonel Graff, Bonzo Madrid, Stilson, and Mazer Rackham.

  • Andrew "Ender" Wiggin is a brilliant boy trained to be Earth's greatest military leader.
  • Peter Wiggin is Ender's cruel older brother, who writes political essays under the assumed name Locke.
  • Valentine Wiggin is Ender's older sister and the only person Ender truly loves.
  • Colonel  Graff runs the Battle School and is responsible for overseeing Ender's training.
  • Mazer Rackham is the hero of the Second Invasion and Ender's mentor.
  • Bonzo Madrid and Stilson are bullies whom Ender accidentally kills in self-defense.

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Characters

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Ender Wiggin

Andrew "Ender" Wiggin is the brilliantly intelligent protagonist of Ender’s Game. A rare “third” child, Ender grows up socially isolated, with no close friends or relationships aside from his elder sister, Valentine, whom he dearly loves. Ender, who is only six at the start of the novel, exhibits a combination of the personality traits of his two older siblings: all three are intelligent, but in Ender, the kindness and sensitivity of Valentine are mixed with the ruthless brutality of his brother, Peter. Ender recognizes this streak of violence in himself and is greatly disturbed by it, though he is also intelligent enough to see that Colonel Graff and his other mentors deliberately exploit and encourage this aspect of his personality to increase his effectiveness as a warrior and a commander. 

Despite his general alienation from others, Ender possesses a keen sense of empathy, and his rare ability to truly understand what his enemy is thinking is ultimately the key to his strategic genius. However, though these traits lead to victories in battle, they also contribute greatly to Ender’s personal unhappiness, for he can only defeat an enemy after he has come to truly know and “love” them. Ender is repulsed by conflict and aggression, which he associates with Peter, and he is wracked by guilt on the occasions where he is forced to become violent to “win”—as shown after his confrontations with Stilson and Bonzo. The tension between Ender’s natural desire for peace and the violence he is forced to enact eventually comes to a head in the final battle, the aftermath of which devastates Ender to his core. As the novel closes, Ender learns to accept that though he can’t change the past, he can take ownership over his own destiny and try to make amends for the wrongs he has committed.

Peter Wiggin

Peter, who is ten years old at the beginning of the story, is Ender’s intelligent and manipulative older brother. The eldest of the three Wiggin children, Peter is a bully who enjoys torturing his siblings and those weaker than himself—particularly Ender, who is the primary object of Peter’s jealousy and resentment. Though his natural inclination is toward violence and cruelty, Peter can be remarkably polite, persuasive, and reasonable when occasion demands. Indeed, most of the adults in his life are convinced Peter is the perfect child. Peter is constantly in pursuit of power, which is his main motivation in crafting a plan with Valentine that will allow them to become political leaders and shape global affairs. In many ways, Peter is a foil for Ender, as the novel traces each brother’s individual path to power and leadership. Ironically, while the compassionate Ender saves the world by committing a terrible genocide, the cruel Peter saves the world through a gloabl peace treaty. Unlike Ender, Peter has no altruistic motivations nor any empathy for those he must destroy to succeed; however, despite this ruthlessness of character, Peter ultimately makes great contributions to humanity—if only because he calculates that doing so is the most efficient way to gain and keep power.

Valentine Wiggin

Valentine, Ender’s elder sister, is the second child of the family. Like her siblings, she is extremely smart and capable, though her gentle nature made her ineligible for Battle School. Valentine loves Ender deeply and often tries to protect him from Peter, whom they both hate. She is the person Ender is closest to in the world, though their relationship becomes far more distant when Ender leaves for Battle School, and she does not see him again for several years. Though she...

(This entire section contains 1725 words.)

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misses Ender, Valentine eventually grows closer to Peter, agreeing to his plan for global domination. In posing as the commentator “Demosthenes,” Valentine proves to be a brilliant persuasive writer, even though their plan requires her to espouse a radical political position that differs greatly from her own. Even as she spends more time with Peter, Valentine retains her disgust for Peter’s lack of compassion; however, she is also disturbed to discover that there is a small part of her that, like her older brother, enjoys power. In the end, Valentine decides to leave Earth to travel with Ender, finally escaping Peter’s influence.

Colonel Graff

Colonel Hyrum Graff is the administrator of the Battle School and perhaps the most prominent adult authority figure in the book. In many ways, Colonel Graff is exactly the sort of man Ender is afraid of becoming: he is intelligent and shrewd, with a high degree of empathy, but he places all his abilities and efforts at the service of the International Fleet. His devotion to winning the war overshadows his humanity, and he is fully prepared to manipulate his cadets into becoming ruthless killing machines, though he is intelligent enough to understand the strategic value of empathy and is wary of destroying it for practical reasons. In Ender’s Game, Colonel Graff serves as a representative of the adult world, which asks Ender and his peers to sacrifice their innocence, happiness, and humanity for the sake of mankind’s survival. Graff is willing to make a similar sacrifice, as shown through his relationship with Ender. Despite his genuine affection for Ender, Graff manipulates and exploits him—fully aware of the devastating toll his tactics take on Ender—ultimately justifying his actions on the grounds of public interest and military necessity.

Major Anderson

Major Anderson functions primarily as a foil to Colonel Graff, his immediate superior at Battle School. Most chapters begin with a discussion between the two officers, in which Anderson argues that while he agrees with Graff’s aims regarding Ender, he thinks his methods are too harsh. Anderson is particularly worried about Ender’s fragile mental state, and often cautions that Ender may crack under the strain. Anderson does not quite have the courage of his convictions, however, and generally ends up acquiescing to Graff’s schemes, which include devising unfair and challenging Battle Room scenarios for Ender. In the end, Major Anderson defends Graff’s controversial decisions when Graff is court-martialed after the war.

Mazer Rackham

Mazer Rackham is introduced to Ender when he reaches Command School on Eros, but there are several earlier references to him as a legendary hero, celebrated for his daring and unexpected defeat of the Buggers in the last war. His values and objectives are similar to those of Colonel Graff, and he refuses to show Ender any sympathy during his harsh training, though he secretly cares about him. Like Graff, Mazer Rackham is prepared to sacrifice anything and everything to win the war, insisting to Ender that “humanity does not ask us to be happy. It merely asks us to be brilliant on its behalf.” 

Bonzo Madrid

Bonzo Madrid is a successful and charismatic cadet at Battle School and the commander of the Salamander Army. His arrogance and refusal to explain his decisions leads him to clash with Ender, whose youth and obvious brilliance he resents. It quickly becomes evident that Bozo is deeply proud, and his bitterness over Ender’s successes lead him to attack Ender outside of the school-sanctioned battles. Instructors at the school are aware of Bonzo’s murderous intentions toward Ender but refuse to intervene, determined to force Ender to resolve it on his own. When Bonzo finally attacks Ender, Ender gains the upper hand and unintentionally kills Bonzo.

Alai

A member of Ender’s launch group, Alai is loyal and honest and becomes Ender’s closest friend at Battle School. The two frequently practice together, but Ender’s special abilities and, later, his leadership role prevent him and Alai from ever being entirely unreserved in their friendship. Alai acts as one of Ender’s commanders in the final battle and has great respect for Ender, though this is not always clear to Ender himself.

Petra Arkanian

Petra is a cadet in the Salamander Army, and one of only a handful of girls in Battle School. This leads her to make extra effort to prove herself as good as all the male soldiers, and she is revealed to be a clever tactician and exceptionally skilled shooter. Petra is tough and strong but never exhibits the sadistic tendencies and violence of Bonzo Madrid. She is loyal and supportive to Ender, becoming one of his most trusted commanders.

Bean

Bean is a young soldier in the Dragon Army under Ender’s command. He is very similar to Ender in his intelligence and capacity for empathy. Ender is sometimes hard on Bean but believes this is for his own good, mirroring Colonel Graff’s treatment of Ender. Bean serves as one of Ender’s commanders in the final battle.

Rose

Rose is the commander of Rat Army, where Ender is traded by Bonzo. He half-heartedly attempts to bully Ender and issues arbitrary orders in much the same way as Bonzo Madrid, but as a weak and lazy leader, he fails to command respect from his army.

Dink Meeker

Dink is Ender’s immediate superior in the Rat Army. He is cold and offhand in his manner but gives Ender helpful advice and does not bully him, which makes him one of the kinder boys. Though he is talented, he is less competitive than most of the Battle School cadets and has actually refused promotions to lead his own army, insisting that he does not approve of the way in which the Battle School manipulates its students into becoming cold-blooded killers. Dink eventually assists Ender in the final battle.

Bernard

Bernard is one of several characters throughout the novel who unsuccessfully attempt to bully Ender. He resembles Peter Wiggin and Bonzo Madrid in his cruelty, though he is not as intelligent as either. Bernard is part of the same launch group as Ender, and after Ender breaks his arm and embarasses him on the shuttle ride to Battle School, Bernard resentfully tries to alienate him from the rest of the group.

Shen

Shen is friendlier and more sensitive than most of the cadets at Battle School, but his perceived weakness makes him a target for Bernard’s bullying. Ender becomes his friend partly out of a sense of solidarity but also because he recognizes Shen’s good nature. Shen eventually becomes one of the commanders under Ender.