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Ender's Game

Ender's Game

by Orson Scott Card

History

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

Peter looks like Alexander the Great (2.14). The children at Battle School “act like – history” (7.10). Peter chooses the pseudonyms Locke and Demosthenes after two big historical figures (9.126). Val thinks Peter might be a little bit like Hitler (9.91). And there are a few more times when characters are compared to history and historical figures. What do all these historical shout-outs mean?

Honestly, we’re not entirely sure that all of these references together mean anything really big, but we did notice that these comparisons pop up. Here’s one thing, though: these historical comparisons do help remind us that these youngsters are actually doing something really important. After all, once she’s done helping Peter take over the world, Val starts to write a history of what just happened and what they all did. They may just be kids, but what they do will affect everyone on Earth. (And possibly some people off Earth as well.)

Now, that said, we also might want to pay attention to the particular comparison and historical references. For instance, when the military administrator says that the kids act like history, he offers two pairs: Napoleon and Wellington, Caesar and Brutus. Now, these pairs are not actually people who worked together – they were huge enemies, which reminds us of how tense the relationships are at Battle School. (Like, Bonzo and Ender are never going to be friends.) Also, when Ender thinks that Peter looks like Alexander the Great, we could connect that to his sister’s pen name of Demosthenes: in real history, Demosthenes was a big enemy of Alexander the Great. Although she ends up working with Peter, Val is never really comfortable in this role and ultimately ends up getting herself and Ender away from Peter’s power.

What else can these historical references tell us about this book?

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