At a Glance

  • Andrew "Ender" Wiggin, a brilliant boy trained to be Earth's greatest military leader.
  • Peter Wiggin, Ender's cruel older brother, who writes political essays under the assumed name Locke in a bid for power.
  • Valentine Wiggin, Ender's sister, who writes essays with Peter until she leaves Earth to be with Ender.
  • Colonel Hyrum Graff of the International Fleet, who convinces Ender to enroll in Battle School.
  • The Buggers, an alien insect race whom Ender obliterates in battle.
  • Launchies, the new students in Battle School.
  • Bonzo Madrid and Stilson, two bullies whom Ender accidentally kills in self-defense.
  • Mazer Rackham, the hero of the Second Invasion, who becomes Ender's mentor.

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(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

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.

Valentine, too, is an innocent. She loves Ender unreservedly, and both loves and fears Peter. Her relationship with her brothers is conspicuously the middle-child type. Valentine is the peacemaker, appeasing Peter and protecting Ender. She sees Peter's political scheming as an intellectual game that can and should be won. She goes along with Peter's schemes in the mistaken belief that she can help Peter to power and at the same time prevent him from becoming the new Hitler. Together with Peter, she naively helps build a web of lies and deceit that result in Peter's getting to power. In the end, Valentine, too, becomes a penitent. She begins her atonement by preventing Ender's return to Earth to keep him from...

(The entire section is 628 words.)