Nature and Nurture Question in Ender’s Game

Check out more papers on Nature Nature Versus Nurture

Nature vs. Nurture is a topic that has been extensively debated between many authors throughout different periods of time. In the novel, Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, and with regard to twins separated at birth, the way a person is nurtured defines their future and influences their thoughts and actions. The idea of nurture has a greater impact on a person’s life is demonstrated through the way that people experience compassion, ruthlessness, and isolation and manipulation.

Don't use plagiarized sources. Get your custom essay on

“Nature and Nurture Question in Ender’s Game”

Get custom essay

In the novel, Card suggests that Ender’s compassion is the reason why he maintains his sanity. This later leads him to devote his life to spreading the history of the buggers throughout the galaxies. In fact, it was the lack of compassion throughout his nurturing at the battle school that led Ender to becoming the killer he turned out to be. Card shows this lack of compassion to be the reason behind Ender’s dark emotional arousals. Although compassion works to his advantage, it ends up being a weakness in the long run when he is dealing with people that are close to him. This eventually leads to Ender becoming severely apathetic. Card proves this point through a conflict of interest between Ender and his soon to be commander Bean;

“Ender reached down and grabbed the front of his uniform and shoved him into the wall. “When I say I work a certain way, Bean, then that’s the way I work.” Bean just smiled. Ender let go of him and walked away. When he got to his room he lay down on his bed and trembled. What am I doing? My first practice sessions and I’m already bullying people the way Bonzo did. And Peter. Shoving people around. Picking on some poor little kid so the others have somebody they all hate. Sickening. Everything I hated in a commander, and I’m doing it.” (Card 129).

This goes to show that the previous commanders that Ender had been under, had greater influence on him than he might have thought. Bean reminds Ender of himself, but he has yet to show him any empathy, which is the same way he was nurtured throughout his battle school practices. The bullying aspect that Bonzo had on Ender, and the way Peter picked on Ender as a younger child is now having a negative effect on Ender in which his nuruting is truly affecting the outcome of who he is going to become. Being apathetic towards others and showing no compassion towards their weaknesses has clearly taken a toll on Ender’s perspective of others and himself.

In the article; “Ender’s Game: The Trouble with Empathy” written by The Book Wars, the author describes the effects that lack of compassion have on Ender in the long run. How he is forced to understand and have full gratitude towards his close friends and then immediately show no mercy to them during battle. Compassion is what ultimately leads Ender into becoming such a powerful leader among his peers, but the harsh reality of him becoming the brutal killer he is set to be.

“Ender quickly becomes a leader at school, he dominates in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity – but he has an inner battle to win as well, his battle with empathy. The book revolves around what it takes to make (and be?) a leader, and as we learn at the beginning of the story, Ender possesses the ideal genetic balance: intelligence, audacity, ruthlessness, charisma, imagination, and empathy. It is Ender’s empathy that is both his strength and weakness, he has a need to understand people, because once he does he knows them and can defeat them. He wants to know why his brother hates him, he wants to know why he is being picked on at school.” (The Book Wars 1).

This quote goes to prove that throughout Ender’s entire nurture, his peers bullying him at school, have had a significant effect on the outcome of his future. When Ender initially starts out in battle school he is socially awkward among his peers because he is nervous and scared. At such a young age, having to experience the types of the trauma of being bullied every single day and constantly tortured by his own brother Peter would turn anyone into a devastating monster. If no compassion is shown toward Ender, why would he show any back?

Orson Scott Card makes it clear that there is no mercy shown toward Ender even in the first few chapters of Ender’s Game. This is shown through Peter’s consistent threats to kill him, and Ender’s classmates bullying him for being an odd child. However, it is also the constant manuplatulations from the higher power, the lies, the tricks and twisted mind games placed on Ender that prove the ruthlessness of his surroundings had nurtured a common boy into an apathetic demon. It has become necessary for ruthlessness to become a part of naturality, in which merciless decisions are made for the survival of humanity against the buggers.

Colonel Graff makes a point in which Ender’s superiority amongst the others comes from his ability to overcome obstacles in simulations and complete them successfully. It is also in battle school in which Ender is faced with decisions to completely obliterate his closest friends in combat, which eventually leads to an outstanding amount of drama between him and his surroundings. Although Ender’s success in battle comes with a positive reputation, a severe negative outcome affects him significantly more than the reputation which he acquired. Card provides a perfect example after Ender has just finished beating his best friend Petra, of the Phoenix army, in an intense battle;

“There were many who hated him. Hated him for being young, for being excellent, for having made their victories look paltry and weak. Ender saw it first in their faces when he passed them in the corridors; then he began to notice that some boys would get up in a group and move to another table if he sat near then in the commanders’ mess; and there began to be elbows that accidentally jostled him in the game room, feet that got entangled with his when he walked into and out of the gym, spittle, and wads of wet paper that struck him from behind as he jogged through the corridors. They couldn’t beat him in the battle room, and knew it — so instead they would attack him where it was safe, where he was not a giant but just a little boy. Ender despised them, but secretly, so secretly that he didn’t even know it himself, he feared them. It was just such little torments that Peter had always used, and Ender was beginning to feel far too much at home.” (Card 144-145).

This quote goes to show the ruthlessness of the battle school. No matter how successful you may be, the others will hate you for being yourself. Ender is traumatized and deals with constant manipulation from Major Anderson and Colonel Graff while also dealing with the bullies and having no friends in school. The others know that Ender is superior to them, and cannot attack him in battle because they know they would suffer tremendous loss, so instead, they beat him to the ground and torment him at his weakest. “They couldn’t beat him in the battle room, and knew it — so instead they would attack him where it was safe, where he was not a giant but just a little boy.” This only goes to show the severity and anxiety that Ender endures throughout his stay at battle school. He has no friends and is constantly bullied for anything that he does whether it is right or wrong, and he has to always suffer the consequences of his actions whether negative or positive. If anything he does is bad, why would he dare care about anybody else’s feelings? Ender gives up hope for life before ending the entire bugger civilization because he is depressed from all of the torture from his surroundings. He is shown no mercy, and is nurtured to show none back.

In an article written by Gavin Hood called “Gavin Hood’s ‘Ender’s Game’: Intelligence, ruthlessness, and empathy”, the author talks about the psychological effects and the toll that the ruthlessness of his surroundings has had on Ender. He explains how Peter, his brother, and how his actions have caused him great trouble in dealing with situations in which he ends up showing no mercy. He goes into greater depth about how the IF and the commanders nurtured Ender only into what they wanted him to be, and they showed absolutely no mercy for his own personal emotions or thoughts.

“This is crucial in the long run as far as Ender’s decisions for his own future are concerned. What interests me here, in particular, is the strange psychological ambivalence of the central character — being caught between those abilities some of which enable him to become the supreme commander of Earth forces even at a very young age. These are exceptional intelligence and the ability to be ruthless in combat, for the sake of “conclusive” victory, on the one hand, and his ability to show empathic identification with his adversaries, on the other. With the kind of power that comes with “post-nuclear” capability at Ender’s fingertips, it is not difficult to anticipate events that will cause him extreme psychological discomfort.” (Gavin Hood 4).

In the novel, the reasoning behind keeping Ender secluded from his family while at battle school is clearly stated. He is the promised one. His leadership and critical thinking abilities impress Colonel Graff, Major Anderson, and his manipulated teachers so much so to the point where they use and manipulate him into becoming the most significant leaders of the genocide. Card demonstrates this in the novel, in which Ender has become aware with the fact that Graff had forged a letter to look like it was written by his sister Valentine, trying to persuade him to keep moving forward in his training.

“He had no control over his own life. They ran everything. They made all the choices. Only the game was left to him, that was all, everything else was them and their rules and plans and lessons and programs, and all he could do was go this way or that way in battle. The one real thing, the one precious real thing was his memory of Valentine, the person who loved him before he ever played a game, who loved him whether there was a bugger war or not, and they had taken her and put her on their side. She was one of them now.” (Card 117).

This quote goes to show that the manipulation of trying to persuade Ender into thinking that Valentine had actually wrote this only disturbed Ender even more, and made for greater isolation. “The one real thing, the one precious real thing was his memory of Valentine… and they had taken her and put her on their side. She was one of them now.” Ender has become fully aware of the isolation and manipulation that the higher powers created. This is only the beginning to a psychological breakdown in which Ender will be nurtured into the killer they have always wanted him to be.

In the article “TWO SIDES OF HUMAN NATURE IN ENDER’S GAME,” written by Betty H. Kim, the author informs the reader on her point of view in which the manipulation of Enders teachers and surroundings is the representation of nurturing someone into becoming a stone cold killer. Betty H. Kim implies, “On the surface, this battle school is run by strict regulations and discipline; however, as the book progresses it becomes clear that all rules are subject to manipulation by the “teachers”—a group that is comprised of adults like Graff and Anderson. Through constant monitoring and computerized calculations, these teachers push Ender as far as their statistical predictions will allow them to. Consequently, values such as fairness and compassion are all thrown out the window; as Ender nears the end of his training, he becomes fully aware of the sly manipulations that the teachers enforce—games are set up disadvantageously and he is consistently isolated from the few people that he connects with.” (Betty H. Kim 1). Through this acquisition, it can be distinctly indicated that the manipulation of his surroundings consequently force Ender to completely rule out happiness from his life due to the intense isolation.

Bobby Shafran, David Kellman and Eddy Galland were separated at birth. They are the subjects of the new documentary “Three Identical Strangers,” in which they observe the story of three brothers meeting each other by fate, but discover a dark truth to the reasoning of their separation. The documentary was directed by Tim Wardle, and won a nominee in the Best Documentary category at the 72nd British Academy, along with several other “Best Documentary” awards after its release.

To summarize the film, it was a chilling experience. The reality of how common twins are separated at birth for psychological studies is astonishing. Since their births, they were bound to be studied by a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst by the name of Dr. Peter B. Neubauer, who wanted to solve the truths behind nature vs. nurture in identical twin siblings. He worked relentlessly to make sure the three were separated at birth for study by placing them each in the same adoptive Jewish agencies and told their soon to be step-parents that they were only a single child with no siblings, which was entirely false. They manipulated the system and decided to use the brothers as guinea pigs for research. After having met each other by fate at a local community college, Bobby, Eddy, and David were united by the vitality of their stories that were introduced on every news header in the United States at the time. They set the pilgrimage for groups to become viral. Although at a glimpse their identical personalities and physical critiques were intriguing, they each had a different upbringing from their stepparents that would eventually affect them tremendously in the long run. Throughout the entirety of their childhood they were constantly filmed and tested as lab rats in unique and mentally tortuous twisted games. They were forced to do activities that they did not understand and were robbed from having a fun and delightful childhood as most of their peers experienced. With having separated the twins, 19 years went by until they met each other by fate, but their mental capabilities were profoundly in dark areas. Depressed, confused, and traumatized the three brothers grew upon in early childhood. Having separated the twins and being reunited only made the pain worse, they were in distraught that they were found to be apart of studies and how they were separated from one another and were not able to share similar experiences with one another throughout childhood.

Overall I believe that Three Identical Strangers, and Ender’s game have a lot in common. Each of the young men, who were put through harsh nurture in early childhood faced severe trauma from the experiences. This goes to show that Orson Scott Card is portraying this as a real life situation, in which children are separated, and lied to, and get played into sick and twisted psychological mind games with them. The documentary of Three Identical Strangers warns us about the hardships of being separated from an identical twin at an early age, such as Ender and how he was separated from his family and used as a guinea pig in testing him to be the next great commander. In conclusion, this world-wide problem needs more attention. The documentary and Ender’s game is giving its reader only a small glimpse into the psychological toll that a harsh nurture can have on the future outcome of a person. If we don’t acknowledge the problem, more innocent children will be manipulated and turned into apathetic demons.

Works Cited

“Ender’s Game: The Trouble with Empathy.” The Book Wars, 18 Nov. 2013,

“Gavin Hood’s ‘Ender’s Game’: Intelligence, Ruthlessness and Empathy.” Brilliant Writing Skills by Authors from South Africa,

Kim, Betty H. “INTL 1802G S01: Reading Global: International Relations through Fiction.” INTL 1802G S01 Reading Global International Relations through Fiction,

Wardle, Tim, director. Three Identical Strangers. Three Identical Strangers, Neon, 2018.            

Did you like this example?

Cite this page

Nature and Nurture Question in Ender's Game. (2020, Apr 02). Retrieved December 8, 2022 , from

Save time with Studydriver!

Get in touch with our top writers for a non-plagiarized essays written to satisfy your needs

Get custom essay

Stuck on ideas? Struggling with a concept?

A professional writer will make a clear, mistake-free paper for you!

Get help with your assigment
Leave your email and we will send a sample to you.
Stop wasting your time searching for samples!
You can find a skilled professional who can write any paper for you.
Get unique paper

I'm Chatbot Amy :)

I can help you save hours on your homework. Let's start by finding a writer.

Find Writer