On the weaselly slight-of-hand and deck stacking Orson Scott Card engages in to create Ender Wiggins, abused innocent and the greatest mass murderer the world has ever known.
Creating the Innocent Killer
Over the years I have told a number of friends that, if I had had access to a nuclear device when I was in seventh grade, there would be a huge crater in upstate New York centered on what used to be West Seneca Junior High School.
Had Orson Scott Card’s novel Ender’s Game existed then, I might have been one of its biggest fans. I would have been enraptured by the story of the innocent who is persecuted despite his innocence, perhaps even because of it. The superior child whose virtues are not recognized. The adults who fail to protect. The vicious bullies who get away with their bullying. That was the world as I saw it in seventh grade. Apparently this is a story that still appeals to many people: Ender’s Game is probably the most popular science fiction novel published in the last twenty years.
In relating Ender Wiggin’s childhood and training in Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card presents a harrowing tale of abuse. Ender’s parents and older brother, the officers running the battle school and the other children being trained there, either ignore the abuse of Ender or participate in it.
Through this abusive training Ender becomes expert at wielding violence against his enemies, and this ability ultimately makes him the savior of the human race. The novel repeatedly tells us that Ender is morally spotless; though he ultimately takes on guilt for the extermination of the alien buggers, his assuming this guilt is a gratuitous act. He is presented as a scapegoat for the acts of others. We are given to believe that the destruction Ender causes is not a result of his intentions; only the sacrifice he makes for others is. In this Card argues that the morality of an act is based solely on the intentions of the person acting.
The result is a character who exterminates an entire race and yet remains fundamentally innocent. The purpose of this paper is to examine the methods Card uses to construct this story of a guiltless genocide, to point out some contradictions inherent in this scenario, and to raise questions about the intention-based morality advocated by Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead.
. . .