Notes on Ender's Game Themes

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Ender's Game Topic Tracking: Excellence

Chapter 1

Excellence 1: Ender's excellence is quickly made clear to the reader within the first few pages of the book. Ender is in class, doodling a highly complex three dimensional image, and not paying attention. "The teacher would know, of course, that he wasn't paying attention, but she wouldn't bother him. He always knew the answer, even when she thought he wasn't paying attention." (Chapter 1, pg 5) Stilson begins to torment Ender through the medium of their computerized desks - a message marching around. Ender smiles, and muses that he was taunted using a system that he, Ender, invented.

Chapter 2

Excellence 2: Peter says to Ender, "They only authorized you because I was so promising. But I didn't pan out. You did better. They think you're better. But I don't want a better little brother, Ender." (Chapter 2, pg 12) Valentine, in protecting Ender, indicates to Peter how they are all "wonderfully bright," and Peter is simply "the biggest." (Chapter 2, pg 13)

Chapter 3

Excellence 3: Ender's life was "requisitioned" because of how excellent Peter and Valentine were as candidates. Graff tells him Battle School is horribly difficult, and Ender has to hold his tongue from saying that he wants to succeed there. He is compelled by Graff's honesty and his own ambition to be excellent.

Chapter 4

Excellence 4: Graff indicates to the launch group that only Ender has an excellent mind worth training, and he is the best of the launch. By virtue of breaking the arm of his assailant, Ender's excellence is only confirmed to Graff.

Chapter 5

Excellence 5: Ender defeats a much older student at a strategy game in the game room. His strategy confounds the older student and he wins two out of three. He feels at last comfortable that he is not in over his head and is sure that he will not become like Mick - he can excel if he chooses.

Excellence 6: Ender shows off his excellence once more by tormenting the tormentor with his superior mental skills. He hacks into the desk computer systems and sends messages as "God" and as "Bernard," enraging Bernard.

Chapter 6

Excellence 7: Ender finds a way to defeat the "impossible puzzle" of the Giant's Drink. The voices at the beginning of the chapter are scared that he will commit suicide if he keeps playing, and they hope he gives up, as almost every student has done. The fact that he defeats the unbeatable means even their own assessments of his ability to win were under the mark.

Chapter 7

Excellence 8: Ender is transferred above and beyond is launch group to an army, and left to figure out the problem. Even Alai is skeptical, but acknowledges, "You're smart, Ender, but you don't do battleroom any better than me." (Chapter 7, pg 68) It is Ender's mind that the adults want to harness, not his battleroom skills, and his mind has quickly risen to the top of the Launchie heap.

Chapter 8

Excellence 9: Dink intentionally brings Ender into Rat Army because Ender is a smart soldier. Then, in one of the earliest practice sessions, Ender is asked to explain an idea he has to attack feet-first. While others complain, Dink simply runs Ender's idea through. Dink shows that there are students who see Ender's excellence and want to harness and nurture its growth

Chapter 9

Excellence 10: Ender's sibling discuss how there excellent minds can be used for something useful-changing politics. When Peter and Valentine start to gain influence, their excellence is only confirmed.

Chapter 10

Excellence 11: Ender is given command of an army well before anyone else in history had received one. Everyone in Phoenix barracks accepted it and understood it. In addition, other armies began holding extra practices upon that announcement-they all know he is the best, he is excellent, and they want to be able to compete with him.

Excellence 12: Ender is frustrated at how he acted in his first day as commander. He felt like he was being like those commanders he criticized. He wished it could be like the extra practices he held: "No authority except excellence." (Chapter 10, pg 167)

Chapter 11

Excellence 13: Ender's army is the best, and they soundly defeat everyone they face, ending the chapter at 8-0. In fact, he is so used to being the best that he tells Dink, after the first victory, that winning is a habit. This army had the deck stacked against them by the teachers, and yet they win so soundly that the teachers try to stack the deck further. Considering that Ender's army was completely green, it is simply an indication of his excellence, as compared to his peers.

Excellence 14: Another character has risen to the point of excellence - Bean. While Ender had a comrade in Alai, and always considered Alai an equal, only Bean was taken completely into Ender's confidence. Ender sees the same qualities in Bean that the adults saw in Ender - quick wit, extremely strategic mind, small size, and confidence. Bean is given a special toon because of his excellence, and Ender carries out the type of recognition of excellence that Graff started with him.

Chapter 12

Excellence 15: Ender gets recognition from some opponents for his excellence in this chapter, but Ender does not care anymore. He has emotionally shut down and refuses to play anymore.

Chapter 14

Excellence 16: Ender is excellent and defeats every enemy in the final stage of his training. He kills the Buggers, and saves humanity. He was the perfect combination of compassion and brutality. Only he could do it, according to the adults.

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