As one gets older he gains knowledge, but what does he lose? In the novel Enders Game by Orson Scott, children are a symbol of hope. As people age, innocence is lost to intelligence, and naivety to caution. The world of adventure in a child’s eyes is viewed cynically by adults, who simply miss a child’s ability to love, appreciate life, and the ability to make choices without considering every possibility of consequence. As a child one is very innocent and as one gets older, he begins to lose his innocence, replacing it with knowledge. society claims that this is the right thing to do, but is it really? What do we lose in the process?
Children have the ability to love without reason, but need a reason to hate, however adults are the exact opposite. On a daily basis, we see adults who hate without reason, but look for reasons to love. While Ender explains the reason of his self hatred to Valentine, Ender states “In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that moment | also love him” (238). Ender has a gift which allows him to understand others, unfortunately his gift is more of a burden than a blessing. When Ender understands his enemy he destroys them, whether it would be physically or mentally. However, as he is defeating his enemy he feels great empathy towards them and therefore hurts himself in the process. Ender does not want to hurt anybody, but repeatedly find himself in a situation where he has no choice. At the end of the story, Ender understands that the damage he has caused to the buggers is irreversible. With the help of Valentine Ender sets out on a journey to try and make up for what he has done. “I think it’s impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves” (238-239) Ender possesses a gift that most people simply do not.
Unlike adults, children have an instinct to love others, even when it seems unreasonable. Ender claims that it is impossible for him to understand someone and not love them, even if it is his enemy. Adults would see loving your enemy as odd, irrational or cynical, but for young Ender it seems irrational not love. As we age we stop looking for the best in people and instead focus on their flaws, this image of a person often turns to hate. On the other hand children see the best in people, children can understand all of one’s flaws and still love him. As a child one has a far greater appreciation for life, once you start to age you begin to lose this appreciation. Adults tend to find themselves in situations where killing is a reasonable solution to their problem. While Ender was back on earth for a short vacation he had a conversation with cornel Graff about the buggers. Ender claimed that [the bugger wars were misunderstandings simply because buggers and humans could not communicate. The buggers haven’t attacked humans for over 50 years and perhaps believed that the war was over. Attacking the bugger planet would only guarantee another war). Ender could not understand why taking such a risk was necessary, why not trust that the buggers had made a mistake and are simply unable to communicate? Cornel Graff responded with a lesson, as he believed that what Ender had said was ridiculous. “…Killing is the first thing we learned. And a good thing we did, or we’d be dead and the tigers would own the earth” (241). Cornel Graff justified exterminating the buggers as a safety measure for the Cornel Graff’s belief is that only one of the races could survive, and it was going to be the humans.
On the other hand, Ender valued the bugger’s lives despite the terrible crimes the buggers had commited in the past. In Society we witness children valuing life far more than adults on a daily basis. As children we loved to play with bugs and butterfly’s but as one age he begins to be terrified of them and even kills them. Although this does not seem like a big deal to many adults, children see an innocent creature dying without reason. Children make choices without considering all possible consequences; they have a great ability to trust others. On the other hand, adults find it difficult to trust another being. This is one of the most important traits that children lose as they grow older. Unlike children who depend on others for help, adults simply push others away and try to do everything themselves. For most of the book the adults purposely leave Ender in isolation, I believe that although they knew that Ender was a brilliant child and a great future commander, the adults simply could not bear the thought of truly leaving their fates in the hands of a child. “This is best for Ender, too. We’re bringing him to his full potential” (174).
Therefore the adults intervened and did everything in their power to manipulate Ender and his emotions to make him a better soldier. As many of the children in the Enders Game had already discovered, the manipulation was ruining their lives, although they were still children physically, they were far from it emotionally, they were soldiers. “But shouldn’t they still act like children? They aren’t normal” (66) The adults say “But shouldn’t they still act like children? They aren’t normal” (66) The adults began to realize that they were breaking the kids only towards the end of the book, they truly believed that they were doing what was right. The author makes the affect on Ender evident when Ender falls through the slide in the dream world game. Ender falling through the slide symbolized the childhood that Ender never had and was no longer allowed to have. The adults believe that they were doing what was best for Ender, as a result Ender broke down several times.
On the other hand the children on Enders team simply trusted in Ender, and gave him their support. “The enemy gate is down” (293). Bean used this phrase to motivate Ender and remind him that he did not have to follow the rules, he simply had to reinvent them. This reminder motivated Ender to make a bold move which in turn won the humans the war. While the adults considered the possibility of Ender losing the war as a problem which needed to be solved, Enders team trusted Ender to make the right decisions on his own. In the novel Enders Game children are not only a symbol of hope, they are also earths saviors. The reason that children could do what adults could not was their innocence. As one ages his personality changes, one of the most significant changes is losing your innocence and replacing it with knowledge. This transition is unavoidable, we consider the transition “growing up” and it is viewed by many as a positive change. But, is giving up the ability to love, appreciate life, making choices without considering every possibility of consequence and most importantly trusting others, worth this transition into “adulthood”?