Ender's Game is one of the most well-known science fiction novels of all time and offers a futuristic setting that provides much allegorical content. Orson Scott Card makes a number of allusions throughout the novel, some of which may require explanation. Students should be familiarized with historic events and figures, including the Warsaw Pact, John Locke, Demosthenes, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Julius Caesar. Students can discuss the significance of these allusions as they come up in the reading.

Ender's Game can be analyzed on a number of levels, from family dynamics and peer relations to the ethics of war. The futuristic setting can also be compared to contemporary life. Students can keep character charts in order to keep track of Ender's siblings, peers, and instructors and their relationships to him and each other. Peter and Valentine's activities on the information networks also provide an interesting discussion point on political blogs and how they influence public opinion. After finishing the novel, you can have a class discussion on government and military ethics, especially regarding manipulation and propaganda, Ender's attempt to redeem himself, and how the ending relates to contemporary views toward imperialism.

Summary of Ender's Game

Key Facts

  • Publication Date: 1985
  • Length: 384 pages
  • Lexile Measure: 780
  • Recommended Grade Band: 6-8
  • Nebula Award Winner (1985)
  • Hugo Award Winner (1986)

Ender Wiggin, a child genius, is recruited by General Graff to join the Battle School and protect the world from insect-like aliens, called buggers. Ender leaves behind his loving sister, Valentine, and sociopathic brother, Peter. Once in Battle School, Ender excels at his training, which causes many of his peers to resent him. When Ender graduates to Command School, he engages in increasingly difficult games against the buggers, only to discover that the buggers and the supposedly simulated battles are not as they seemed.

Content Warning: Ender's Game contains some profanity and violence.

What Your Students Will Love About Ender's Game

  • The young, relatable protagonist
  • The simple, easy-to-read writing style of Orson Scott Card

Potential Student Struggles With Ender's Game

  • The amount of warfare and militaristic language in the story
  • Understanding all the historical allusions

Learning Objectives for Ender's Game

  • Infer information about characters and events when the information is not explicitly stated.
  • Discuss the significance of historical people and events, such as Demosthenes, John Locke, and the Warsaw Pact.
  • Discuss the isolation of the gifted child as it pertains to Ender and his peers.
  • Explain how Ender redeems himself.
  • Recognize and explain the danger of governmental or military control over Ender's life.
  • Comment on the relationships Ender has with his peers.
  • Discuss the irony in Graff's behavior toward Ender.

Literary Elements in Ender's Game

  • Allusion
  • Foreshadowing
  • Imagery
  • Irony
  • Metaphor
  • Symbol
  • And more!

Major Themes in Ender's Game

Games — The novel continually uses the metaphor of war being a game, which Ender plays without realizing the consequences.

Related Works:

HumanityEnder's Game looks at the human condition and loss of innocence with growing up as Ender matures and learns how to fight and kill in battle.

Related Works:

Friends and Enemies — In the novel, it is never completely clear which characters are friends and which are enemies.

Related Works:

Other Resources for Ender's Game

Order Ender's Game Resources from Prestwick House

Resource Format
Ender's Game Paperback Student Edition
Ender's Game Teaching Unit Reproducible Downloadable 30-Book Set
Ender's Game Activity Pack Reproducible Downloadable 30-Book Set
Ender's Game Response Journal Reproducible Downloadable 30-Book Set
Ender's Game Complete Teacher's Kit Reproducible Downloadable 30-Book Set

This free guide was originally posted in May 2015. It has been updated as of February 2021.