Category: Books

Sorting: Ender’s Game, pt 2

As promised, the conclusion of the sorting of Ender’s Game!  Initially I had wanted to put Peter and Valentine in the first post, but I figured that if I put all the heavy hitters in the first post, it wouldn’t make for a very exciting second post.  And I knew that writing Bean would be a challenge, as I’ve read Ender’s Shadow as well, but I really wanted to focus on the characters as they appeared in Ender’s Game.  I know the last post stirred up some controversy with how I sorted Bonzo, maybe this one will cause some rumblings as well?

Warning: This post contains spoilers for Ender’s Game, just like the last one.

Peter Wiggin: The eldest of the Wiggin children knows early on in his life that he wants to take over the world.  At ten he thinks the only way to do this is brute force, by hurting and intimidating those he views as threats.  He’s jealous of Ender’s success where he failed, jealous that Ender gets to go into space and save the world while he’s stuck on the ground, and he takes out his frustration on his younger siblings in cruel, malicious ways.  He acts out in school, an his parents worry for his future.  A short while after Ender leaves for Battle School, they move out to the country, hoping that being more in touch with nature will help soothe Peter’s violent personality.

While the move doesn’t quell Peter’s desire for power, as he grows he realizes that there are better ways to grab attention than by acting out.  He starts behaving himself in school, earning the teachers’ trust so that his parents will believe he’s calmed down.  Once that’s happened, he uses his sister’s intelligence, along with his own, to really shine – behind the anonymity of the internet, he steps onto the political stage.

He plays his own character, Locke, against his sister’s moniker, Demosthenes.  He instructs her to write Demosthenes as radical, so that Locke can come in as the voice of reason when they are eventually pitted against each other.  They start out small, just comments here or there, and eventually they’re both picked up by major news sites (I’m guessing that the internet changes vastly in the future; right now, I’m pretty sure if they tried this out the result would be exactly how xkcd predicts).  Just as Ender is taking down the Bugger’s home planet, war breaks out on Earth, and Peter’s voice (as Locke) is the only one that can resolve matters.  When Ender and Valentine go off to colonize the Bugger world, Peter becomes Hegemon and unites Earth under his rule.

To Peter, everything can be a tool to help him accomplish his goals.  His teachers’ admiration, his parents’ sympathies, his sister’s intelligence – he finds ways to use them all.  In the end he uses them for something productive, but he’s never acting for the greater good – it’s always to further his own interests.

Verdict: Slytherin

Valentine Wiggin: Valentine has all of Peter’s smarts, but in the place of his ambition, she has empathy.  She protects Ender from Peter, endangering herself in the process.  She misses Ender for far longer than the rest of the family, and worries about him constantly.

Her empathy, it turns out, becomes a tool for others to use against her.  Twice the Battle school administrators use her to encourage Ender to keep at his studies, knowing that only her influence can pull Ender from the bouts of depression he falls into.  Peter uses her, uses her intelligence to work his way up the political nets to achieve his own goals.  Throughout the book, we see her helping other people accomplish their own goals, but we never know what it is that she wants.  Only at the very end of the book does she do something for herself – she decides to leave Earth and join Ender in space, so she can spend time with the brother she loves instead of the brother she hates.

Valentine is extremely intelligent, but lacks the backbone required to keep herself from being used by others.  She’s able to use her intelligence in a way that ensures she benefits as well, eventually, but she’s certainly not as cunning or ambitious as Peter.

Verdict: Ravenclaw

Petra Arkanian: One of the only girls at Battle School, and the only one we as readers are exposed to, Petra is a fighter.  She constantly works hard to prove herself among boys, and strives to excel as a means to stand out.  When Ender joins her in Salamander Army, she sees herself in him – they’re both outcasts, and they both have far more potential than the rest of Salamander gives them credit for.  She takes him under her wing and teaches him everything she knows.

When Ender moves on to Rat Army, Petra still has an interest in Ender’s progress, even if she’s forbidden from actively teaching him anymore.  Once he’s promoted to commander, and she’s moved on to command her own army, she’s impressed with his ability to lead, but hates that he’s so easily able to beat her.

In the final battle, it’s clear that Ender still trusts and relies on Petra’s judgement, and she works herself sick to make sure she doesn’t let him down – literally.  She’s the first to collapse from exhaustion, due to Ender putting more pressure on her than anyone else.  She’s devastated that she let him down, and tries her best to make up for it.

Petra is extremely driven and is desperate to prove that she’s not only just as good as, but even better than most of the boys at Battle school.  She’s smart and an excellent teacher for Ender, and it’s clear that her influence left a strong impression on Ender, with how much he relied on her during the final battle with the Buggers.  She’s hardworking and loyal, and fights for what she believes in.

Verdict: Hufflepuff, though she could do well in Gryffindor as well.

Bean: We only see Bean for a small portion of the book, but he leaves quite an impression.  His intelligence makes up for his small stature, and Ender sees a lot of himself in the young soldier.  However, Bean is different than Ender – he’s got nerve.

Right away, with no experience, Bean confronts Ender and says he wants to be a toon leader.  Ender tells him to prove himself, and he does.  Bean constantly comes up with new ideas to help Dragon army, finding new tools and coming up with new tactics to combat the increasingly unbalanced battles.  Ender comes to rely on Bean’s brilliance, and gives him a specialized toon to command.  Ender continues to rely on Bean through the Bugger battles, and Bean never lets him down.

Bean presents an interesting problem.  Knowing his early childhood as I do from  Ender’s Shadow, I know how he scraped and fought to survive to be old enough to get to Battle School.  But as I said before, I’m only looking at him as he is portrayed in Ender’s Game.  And while I think he could fit easily into two houses, in this book, one outweighs the other.

Verdict: Ravenclaw, with very strong Slytherin leanings.

Stay tuned next week for a guest post from Geardrops, sorting the members of the Batman universe!


Sorting: Ender’s Game

courtesy of hatrack.comWhen my dear friend Geardrops asked me to help out with her fantastic new Sci-Fi/Fantasy Fan blog, The Fansible, I was reminded how much I adore Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game.  And while reminiscing on this fabulous sci-fi story, I was struck by its similarities to Harry Potter – a kid, chosen for his unique abilities, is thrust into a specialized school in a very foreign world.  Both of these heroes are trained to fight a terrifying enemy that devastated their worlds long before they could even comprehend what was happening, and both ultimately have connections with their enemies that define who they are.  And since Ender’s Game focuses so heavily on school-age kids, why not sort them into their respective Hogwarts houses?

Warning: The following contains spoilers for Ender’s Game.  If you haven’t read it and don’t wish to be spoiled, read no further!

Ender Wiggin: Our hero has something of an unfortunate life, and even at 6 years old, things don’t look great for him.  Born the third child of a family living  in a world of 2-children-per-family population control, his short childhood is wrought with constant teasing and hatred for his existence.  His older brother is jealous of his success (more on him later), and his peers mock him for his family’s blatant rule breaking, even if it was government-sanctioned.  The government had asked his parents to have a third child, when their first two children proved amazingly talented yet not quite suitable for their needs to ward off an imminent alien threat, thus deciding his entire life for him if he turned out to be suitable to lead the Interntional Fleet.  He excels in school and mostly tries to keep his head down, though he refuses to back down from a fight and instead works out, logically, that if he beats up the bully hard enough, it’ll stop any future fights before they begin.  His strategy works, but in the end, there’s no need for it.  He’s selected for the task the IF has at hand, and is shipped off to battle school.

If Battle School is a place where Ender hopes he can escape the tyranny of his brother and the mocking of his peers and possibly have the chance at a normal childhood, he’s sorely mistaken.  Alienated from his launch group right at the start, the teachers use his isolation to draw out his talents.  He works very hard to learn all that he can, and earns the respect and friendship of at least some of his classmates before he is promoted – quite early – into an army.

In Battle School, much of the focus is on the mock battles the armies participate in in null gravity.  Ender had been promoted early in his career, before he’d really grasped how to do anything in null gravity, into the Salamander Army, commanded by Bonzo Madrid.  Bonzo believes Ender’s presence is an insult to his command, and forbids him from actively participating in any fights – he’ll be there, as all members of the armies must be present, but he’s forbidden from firing his weapon.  But Ender is determined to learn.  Petra, one of his fellow Salamanders, offers to teach him how to shoot, and on his own initiative he gathers a group of his old friends from his launch group and practices with them in their free time.  And, above all else, he learns.  He watches how Bonzo commands, and takes note of his weaknesses and how he can improve.  In his last battle with Salamander army, as Ender’s the only Salamander who hasn’t been disabled, he’s able to single-handedly turn the loss into a draw.  Bonzo, instead of being grateful for Ender’s help, is furious that he disobeyed his orders.

Ender is transferred to Rat Army, where he’s put under the direction of Dink Meeker.  It’s here that he really begins to blossom, as Dink appreciates his brilliance and better guides him in the battles.  He absorbs the information like a sponge, and quickly proves himself to be the most adept soldier in the school.

Shortly after, Ender is assigned his own army, Dragon Army, and it’s here where things really start to go downhill for Ender.  His army is made up of new launchies and unmemorable veterans, but Ender is able to do amazing things with them.  After just four weeks of training – far less than most armies get – he’s given his first battle, and he wins.  The next day, a new battle, and he wins again.  This continues, on and on – the school administrators come up with every way possible to stack the cards against Ender, but his brilliance outwits them every time.  His record-breaking career angers his old commander, Bonzo, and Bonzo tries to kill him one day after a battle.  That same day, when Ender has already endured one battle and had to fight, literally, for his life, he’s forced into another battle against two armies.  He wins by outsmarting the computer that runs the battles, and decides to finally take a stand against the school and refuses to fight any more battles.  His decision is unnecessary.

Ender’s shipped off to Command School, where he learns the intricacies of commanding a fleet in far off sections of the galaxy with what he believes is an advanced computer simulator.  His teacher now is the legendary Mazer Rackham, the commander that previously won the war against the alien invasion.  He’s isolated even more now, but is overjoyed to learn that in his more involved exercises, his most trusted soldiers and friends from Battle School are now in command of sections of his fleet.  He learns how the enemy thinks; he understands their tactics and uses his armies wisely, but he is pushed very hard, and in turn pushes his friends very hard, and they’re all strained by the pressure.  He progresses through battles, winning every time, until what he is told is his “final exam,” where he’s faced with the alien homeworld.  Now, not caring what the adults will think of him, he ultimately sacrifices his entire fleet to destroy the planet and all surrounding enemies.  Only then, once the battle is complete, does Mazer inform him that it was a real battle, and he really destroyed the alien homeworld and the billions of aliens living there.

Ender is extremely intelligent, with a constant thirst to not only learn everything possible, but the why and the how and all the theory behind everything he can.  He gets into the mind of his enemy and exploits their weaknesses – he does this when he’s young and viciously attacks a bully who picked on him not expecting a fight, and when he’s older facing Bonzo, knowing that Bonzo’s Spanish honor will even the playing field.  He constantly looks at new ways to see things and do things and refuses to do anything that’s considered right or traditional unless he himself comes to the conclusion that it’s the best way to do things.  He’s naive and trusting until the point where it’s too late, he’s already been used as a pawn for someone else’s chess game.  He shows bravery when he knows it’s the smartest thing to do, but never truly chooses it on his own.  He’s malleable and thus easily believes things if they can be shown to be the most logical, but is often led astray by people who would choose to use his intelligence for their own means.

Verdict: Ravenclaw

Alai:  Alai is Ender’s first real friend in Battle School.  Starting out as the best friend of Ender’s nemesis in their launch group, Alai befriends Ender when they are the first launchies to grasp the concept of movement in null gravity.  Alai is well-liked by the entire launch group, and his acceptance of Ender helps soothe some of the hard feelings instilled by the administrators in an attempt to isolate Ender.  It’s with Alai that Ender begins his free-time battle practices, and he can bounce ideas – sometimes literally – off of Alai.  The two challenge and push each other to be better while remaining close friends.

In Ender’s time at Command School, Alai is one of the commanders he leads to battle against the Buggers.  While they are all pushed to the very limits of their endurance, Alai tries his best to calm Ender by cracking jokes from their early days at Battle School.  He, along with many of the other commanders under Ender’s leadership, stays by Ender’s side while he is recovering from the final battle and is the first person Ender speaks to upon waking.

Alai is one of the few characters in this book that could fit into a number of the houses.  He’s nearly as smart as Ender himself, smarter than the majority of the students at Battle School.  Yet he’s not afraid to break the status quo, and doesn’t buckle to peer pressure during a time when he could have been easily swayed by his friends’ prejudices against Ender.  His position in his launch group is perhaps the most telling about his personality – he’s liked and respected by everyone, and is accepting of those that others would shun.  He’s fiercely loyal to Ender and trusts his command implicitly.

Verdict: Hufflepuff, with strong Ravenclaw leanings.

Bonzo Madrid: Ender’s first commander is a product of honor and justice.  He firmly believes in the order in which things are done, and his world is turned upside down by this smudge of a launchie that replaces one of his soldiers far earlier than most students get promoted into armies.  But he refuses to be beaten by this obstacle, and swears that his army will be successful despite Ender’s presence.

Unfortunately for Bonzo, he’s really not prepared for Ender’s persistance.

First, Ender embarrasses him in front of his army by defying his order to not practice with his launch group during free time.  And then Ender embarrasses him in front of the rest of the school by unintenionally having the best ratings of all the soldiers even though he’s never fired a shot in a battle – in fact, Ender’s pristine rating is due to Bonzo’s order that he not participate in the battles.  But perhaps the worst thing Ender does is disobey his order – and turns a certain loss into a draw.

When Ender becomes a commander himself, tensions only increase with Bonzo.  He soundly beats Bonzo’s army when they should have had a head start, and Bonzo misinterprets Ender’s disdain with the administration as mockery of Salamander Army.  Dishonored time and time again by Ender, Bonzo plots to kill him.

Bonzo, along with a number of other students that dislike Ender, corner him in the shower and demand that Ender stop doing so well at the battles, that it’s not fair that Ender win all the time.  They advance on him, and Ender comments that Bonzo’s father would be so proud that it took him and six others to beat up a kid smaller than him – and Ender’s taunt works.  Bonzo tells his companions to hang back, that he’ll take on Ender himself.  But Ender’s too small, too quick, and too smart, and this confrontation leads to disastrous results for Bonzo.

Bonzo would rather lose, or die, with honor, than live with shame.

Verdict: Gryffindor

Dink Meeker: Ender’s toon leader in Rat Army is the first person to make Ender see that the games in school aren’t about the armies fighting against each other, but about the administration working against the students.  It’s a lesson Ender learns the hard way when he takes command, but at the time Ender can’t understand why Dink has refused the multiple offers to command an army.  He’s intelligent and teaches Ender everything he knows, and he’s a far better leader than their actual commander, Rose de Nose.

Dink is full of conspiracy theories.  In addition to thinking that the battles between armies are just a means of pitting the students against each other, he believes that there is no more alien threat, and that the IF is just trying to train up the best and brightest for an eventual war back on Earth.  However, he believes in Ender’s military ability and strives to nurture it as much as he can.    In the final battle he loyally follows Ender’s command.

Verdict: Gryffindor, though for very different reasons than Bonzo.  He stands up for the things he believes in, but is flexible enough to see that, while he may not have been 100% correct in his ideas, there is still a greater good worth fighting for and a champion to believe in.  So, Gryffindor, with a healthy dose of Hufflepuff.

Tune in on Thursday for more Ender’s Game sorting!