From plot debriefs to key motifs, Thug Notes’ Ender’s Game Summary & Analysis has you covered with themes, symbols, important quotes, and more.
Ender’s Game (1985) | Written by: Orson Scott Card | Published by: Tor Science Fiction
Thug Notes Summary & Analysis
What’s good my well-read ballas? This week we rememberin: Don’t hate the playa, hate the GAME- with Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card.
It’s the future and you best believe dem humans got their intergalactic travel game CLUTCH-status. Only prollem is: a crew of nasty aliens called buggers, who been tusslin’ over turf with humans fo’ way too long. Humanity ain’t got the numbers they got, so they all tweakin’ that the next time they go toe to toe with the buggers, it’ll be their last. So to get the jump on dem creepers, da military hit the streets lookin’ for special genius-kids to take their military strategy game next-level.
The book follow da military’s best hope: six year old Andrew Wiggin, or Ender to his boys. Brutha may be a lil’ G, but he is WICKED smart. So when some punk-ass bitch named Stilson roll up with his gang tryna throw down, Ender make sho’ dat fool don’t neva’ come trippin to his face again: he actually KILLS Stilson, even tho, at the time, he didn’t know he jacked him up so raw. Good thing too, at his core, Ender a sensitive lil’ homie with a heart of gold.
Back at home, Ender always gettin’ picked on by his violent-ass 10 year old bro Peter. Ender’s 8 year old sister Valentine, tho, is way mo’ chill, and she stick up fo’ Ender on the reg.
When word comes dat lil’ Ender knows how to bang out like a champ, a Colonel named Graff drop by and invite his ass to Battle School- where he gonna learn to fight da buggers. Peter pissed as hell that Ender got chosen instead of him.
Up at battle school, it don’t take long fo’ errybody to realize dat Ender the smartest hood up in thurr fo sho- and cuz o dat, Graff actually tryna’ keep Ender from makin’ legit friends, cuz he think da only way Ender can get to the top of his game is if he flyin’ solo. When he ain’t wreckin’ shop in The Battle Room and trainin’ other kids, Ender plays the “mind game”- a computer program dat analyzes kid’s psychology. None of dem kids can get past a part of da game called “The Giants Game” where a brutha gotta pick between two cups o’ drank, one of which gonna kill em. Afta’ Ender gets merced by dat killa’ sizzurp fo’ da millionth time, he straps up again: Instead of sippin,’ he knocks over dat joose and burrows a damn hole in the giant’s EYE. DAMN. Thing is, Ender cain’t stand doin sh** like that cuz it remind him of his brother Peter. Dude even say “This was supposed to be a game…. I’m a murderer, even when I play.” (65)
Ender gets promoted in and transferred to other armies left n right, and eventually callin’ the shots as commander of his own army. Along da way, Ender makin’ all kinds of enemies who jealous of his mad gangsta skillz. When one of his haters- some boy named Bonzo who way older and bigger than Ender, tries to boot up in the shower, Ender do what he always do: he make DAMN sho’ dat Bonzo ain’t eva’ gonna try and scrap wit’ him again. ENDER ICES DAT FOOL TOO- but jus’ like last time, he don’t even know it til’ later.
10 years old now, Ender real tired of all his teachers’ sh** at the Battle School: errytime he get close to somebody, or shows dat he got all da games SOWED UP, the rules change and Ender goes back to grindin all day erry day. Eventually, Ender has HAD it and wanna jus’ peace da fu** out. So Graff takes Ender back to earth so that Valentine can give him a pep talk.
While Ender been whoopin’ ass in space, Valentine and Peter been busy too: see, it turns out that Val and Pete got brains as big as Ender. Da only reason they didn’t get picked by Graff is cuz Val too nice, and Peter too insane in the membrane, always killin’ sh**. Even though they jus’ lil kids, Pete and Val know that people all ova’ da world ain’t jus’ ready fo’ war with the Buggers; nah, blood- they also gonna beef wit’ eachotha. Val and Pete realize dat humanity ain’t gonna last unless somebody with brains runnin’ the show- so they get up on dat futuristic Facebook and start gettin’ mad street cred talkin’ politics.
Ender finally gets his sh** together, but don’t go back to the Battle School: da military decide da clock is tickin wit da bggers, so they send his ass to Command School, even though he ain’t even close to 16 yet.
There, Ender meet a dude with some major swagger- Rackham, the OG general dat whooped the Buggers back in the day. Afta’ some choice words from the big dawg, Ender goes in to a new simulator where he commanding a posse of his own. Fo’ days, Ender fights battle after battle, some of em seem straight up impossible! But in the end, Ender keeps it real and always finish numba’ one- even destroying the entire Bugger planet. Erryone on the base all geeked at the win and Rackham tell Ender: “That wasn’t no simulation bro. You just killed all the buggers fo’ real.” OH NO YOU DIDN’T!
Ender feelin’ so sh**ty for committin’ genocide dat he passes da fu** out, goin in and out of consciousness while humanity go and make an ass of itself: RIGHT after takin’ care of the buggers, peeps worldwide are at eachother’s throats. FO REAL? But guess who come out on top: Peter, Ender’s brother. Scary ass family, mayne.
When erryone realize Ender too dangerous to allow back on Earth, E-dawg and Valentine throw up the deuce and start helpin’ colonize empty bugger worlds. Along the way, Ender actually finds the pupa of a queen bugger, ready to hatch a hundred thousand lil buggers. Turns out, da buggers been readin’ his mind fo’ years. So does he smoke dat ho? Nuh-uh playa. Ender better than that. He and Valentine snatch her up and keep on cruising, hopin’ to find a place where the hive queen can set up shop in peace.
This book right here might be called Ender’s GAME, but Ender sho as hell ain’t playin. Him, Peter and Valentine got PHAT brains that make em some real badasses. Their swole abilities in line with one of the dankest themes of da book: the power to understand others. Peter digs up people’s fears and uses it against them, Valentine figgers out what people love about themselves and flatters em’, and Ender got the ability to look deep in to em, and think like them. Card actually wavin’ dat symbol in our faces on page 11, where we got Ender tryin’ on a bugger mask and wonderin’ what Buggers think bout humans. Fo’ Ender, this power it’s both a blessing and a curse.
On one hand, he able to use it to smack up his enemies like a G. Like Ender say:
“Every time, I’ve won because I could understand the way my enemy thought. From what they did. I could tell what they thought I was doing, how they wanted the battle to take shape.” (238)
Ain’t all gravy though, Errytime Ender mops the floor wit’ somebody, he kills a little piece of himself:
“In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him…. And then, in that very moment when I love them… I destroy them. I make it impossible for them to ever hurt me again.” (238)
So when Ender learn that he wiped out a whole colony, you best BELIEVE dat messed him up.
And speakin’ of messed up, dat mind game is all kinda whacked- or at least, what it shows us is. Not only does the mind game bring together the themes of Ender’s guilt, and games, but it also reppin’ dat ain’t NUTHIN gonna stop Ender from doin’ what he gotta do. And in Ender’s case, we see over and over dat in order for him to become top-dawg, he’s gotta straight up kill children.
Not only does Ender kill kids in the mind game and also outside it: Stilson, Bonzo, an even his own childhood… Not to mention a million lil’ bugger kids.
Through the Giant’s Drink again, past the wolf-children, reliving the terrible deaths, the constant murders; he heard a voice whispering in the forest, You had to kill the children to get to the End of the World.” (300)
So can we blame Ender fo’ bein’ a killin’ machine? Or do Graff, Racham, and all da other peeps that made Ender what he is have to ride the beef? Sho, at the end of the book, da court finds Ender not guilty for Bonzo and Stilson’s deaths, sayin’ he acted in self defense. But don’t forget what Rackham say to Ender about the buggers:
Don’t start apologizing for them, Ender. Just because they didn’t know they were killing human beings doesn’t mean they weren’t killing human beings.” (270)
I guess dat Ender thought like da buggers even mo’ than he could have imagined. Yo thanks for keepin’ it real with me today, peace.