ender’s game

All posts tagged ender’s game

My conference paper focuses on propaganda in dystopian novels and the various ways it leads us as the audience to connect to the characters on a deeper level. I include my own definition of what propaganda can be emphasizing the point that it can be considered any form of information that is intended to create a bias or mislead the audience into believing that one side of an argument or point of view is the right one. To do this, I use the research already done by notable author and thinker Jacques Ellul. Ellul is the author of the book “Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes” which has been cited in a great number of propaganda studies since the years of its publication. In his book, Ellul describes eight different types of propaganda: political, sociological, agitation, integration, vertical, horizontal, irrational, and rational. In my presentation I focus mainly on Ellul’s category of political propaganda and how it is depicted in dystopian novels, and how it causes the audience to think. In addition, for my research purposes, I have expanded on Ellul’s classification to add the category of pure emotional propaganda which I feel is necessary when talking about propaganda shown in dystopian novels, and perhaps more easily in movies based of off dystopian novels, specifically the movies based off of The Hunger Games books written by Suzanne Collins and Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card.

In The Hunger Games, I chose to focus on the propaganda shown through the actions of Peeta and Katniss and their fake relationship. My definition of propaganda as any information used to mislead an audience comes into play here as most people wouldn’t consider the act as one of mainstream propaganda and instead would focus on the propos shot by the rebellion and the Capitol’s response in the later books/movies.

In Ender’s Game and Ender’s Shadow, both by Orson Scott Card, I choose to focus more on the mainstream propaganda shown through the elevation of Battle School as a prestigious school only for those worthy of it and the unification of the Earth (examples shown below) through vertical, horizontal, and emotional propaganda and how it affects the minds of the characters in the novels and of the audience.

Throughout my presentation I will make many references to subliminal messaging and subconscious thought, as it is of great impact to my research. As proven my many notable sources, when the brain sees something it will store information about it for later when that information is needed which oftentimes leads to feelings of déjà vu. However, in my case it makes the greatest impact through emotional propaganda, as the audience will feel various emotions ranging from sympathy to hatred depending on the propaganda in novels and movies they are exposed to, and the fact that they see or read this propaganda will help it stick in the mind and ultimately create an emotional reaction to the characters experiences in the novels or movies themselves which can lead to a stronger emotional bond to the characters themselves.

Picture Sources:





What interests me the most about society in YA dystopias is how Technology effects the interaction between a government and it’s citizens, specifically in the Ender’s Game and in today’s society.

Most YA dystopian novels feature a society with extremely advanced technology, owing, perhaps, the fact that sophisticated technology enhances the control aspects of utopian literature.

Inevitably, as time goes on we are dangerously close to attaining the technology to recreate the overbearing supervision found in books like Little Brother and  Ender’s Game. The problem with this advanced technology is that it is often used as a tool in controlling and monitoring it’s citizens rather than advancing the lives of said citizens.

Take the Ender’s Game sage for example. Gifted  children were scouted by the government in search of a child to “end “ the war with the Formics. These children with such potential were then equipped with a “monitor” that allowed the government to effectively watch everything that the child saw. By stealing Ender’s perspective, Gaff was able to manipulate his interactions with his classmates and family. This  therefore, was what  gave him  the power to  mold Ender into a weapon for the IF.

Very few people would take it upon themselves to disagree that Technology blunts human interaction. It’s depersonalizes it. Gaff was able to manipulate Ender because he had the power, the technology, and the willingness to see Ender as a tool as he had so many children before him. That ties into another question I’m interested in asking. What is to be said about the willingness of an advanced society to use children as perpetrators of the future they will inherit. Ender killed the Buggers unwillingly, unwittingly through  ignorance. He had no knowledge whatsoever of what was actually going on in the command room because they were just images on a screen.



Card, Orson Scott., and John Harris.Ender in Exile.  Tor, 2008.

Doctorow, Cory. Little Brother. Tor Books, 2008.

Card, Orson Scott, and Alan Smithee. Enders Game. Boekerij, 2013.

The most interesting things to me about reading dystopias are the storylines, their relation to the real world, and the evolution of the main character(s). Anytime I pick up a book to read, dystopian or not, the main purpose for doing so is to enjoy the book. To me, reading is a way to escape reality for a few hours and immerse myself in the universe the story takes place.

In reading Ender’s Shadow, I was able to understand more about the story behind the main supporting characters in Ender’s Game and how the characters evolved alongside Ender throughout the journey of winning the war against the Buggers. In a way, it reminded me of my own education growing up (although the stakes were a little less intense in my case). The kids earned a spot in a prestigious academy in space, and took classes that pushed their boundaries in order to further their knowledge and individual abilities similarly to my journey thus far.

This leads me to why I think I enjoy novels about people around my age. If I am able to actively perceive the events of a book happening to me today, it is easier for me to become interested in the book itself. While the characters in Ender’s Shadow are slightly younger than I am now, when I first read Ender’s Game in middle school I connected to the characters on a greater level as I was intrigued by the intellectual capacity of those kids in the books and wondered how I could reach their level of knowledge. In a way, Ender’s Game also led me to become interested in flight and aerospace engineering even though I wasn’t familiar with many concepts of space flight at the time of my first experience with Orson Scott Card’s novels.

Examples of Aerospace Engineering in the movie adaption of Orson Scott Card’s novel Ender’s Game (2013)

One thing that I have found draws more and more of my attention is the evolution of characters in a book or series that I read. From Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series to Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother novel to Card’s Ender’s Game/Shadow series, I have discovered my own increased interest in how characters think and how they handle difficult situations. This has allowed me to ask question like what would I have done or were there any alternative solutions to the problems addressed in a book?

For example, in Ender’s Shadow, Bean (the main character of the book) is given the chance to take control of the entire fleet during the final battle, but he does not do so as he believes in Ender. While reading this I thought to myself what I would have done. Would I have taken control of the situation, left Ender in control, or come up with an alternative such as taking control of half of the fleet? After thinking about this and how the characters have grown and created bonds throughout the book it is relatively easy for me to understand why the author wrote the book the way he did, and by asking these what if questions to myself, it allows me to become more involved in the story itself, and makes the reading experience that much more enjoyable.









Propaganda serves as a method by the government to control the flow of information to its people. It is so prevalent in dystopian societies because such governments are entirely dependent upon their complete control of their citizens. By managing the flow of information, they can shape people’s views and opinions favorably for that government.

In Ender’s Game, Propaganda is the tool of  the International Fleet, a far-reaching government instituted with cooperation from all countries for one purpose: The Protection of Mankind. Eighty years ago, the people of earth were caught off-guard against a dangerous foe, now known as the “Formics” or Buggers due to their exoskeletal appearance. The Formics were an advanced alien race, and even though Earth managed to defeat them, humans now live in fear that one day the Formics will return. Before, the Earth was on the verge of a Third World War but suddenly they all had one rallying cry that every human could share. “Never Again.”



In the Hunger Games, President Snow says “The only thing stronger than fear is hope.” Like the Capitol, The International Fleet knows this too well. As long as there is a greater enemy, the Formics, then the earth is one nation and the International Fleet is in total control. The Propaganda posters loudly declare that the Formics are their one true Enemy and they must be defeated at all costs while fostering hope that some “hero” will end the threat. Any sympathy for the Formics is crushed. They are the enemy.

It’s somewhat important to recall that the last time the Formics attacked was 80 years ago. But the International Fleet has had 80 years to convince people that they’re coming back. It’s that one unifying thread that keeps them together, the survival of humanity.

Most often, Propaganda is viewed as the tool of the weak and a largely negative thing. In most cases, it usually is. However, the International Fleet had one purpose: to keep mankind alive against a dangerous threat. Who was to know that this thread was also itself. The Formic Wars were the only thing that kept the world together. The external threat forces a pause on Earth politics so that Human Kind could survive. And when the Formics were ultimately slaughtered by Ender, the world fell back into war, proving that they needed a reason to look over their should so they had no time to look upon their neighbors. It’s not to say that propaganda is positive, only that bias is a necessary thing to hold together a Nation.



Ender’s Game Trailer. www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=19&v=0MOqoRSWHCs.

Card, Orson Scott, and Alan Smithee. Enders Game. Boekerij, 2013.

Card, Orson Scott., and John Harris. Ender in Exile.  Tor, 2008.

“Los Angeles Times.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, herocomplex.latimes.com/movies/enders-game-new-propaganda-posters-appeal-to-honor-fear/#/0.

The main purpose for propaganda from what I have read and seen from the Hunger Games series, the Ender’s Game/Ender’s Shadow series, and real life issues is to benefit a group of people in order to control how everyone else sees them and their enemies or counterparts. The entire concept of propaganda, young adult fiction or real life, is to make one side of an argument almost glorified or at least make it seem like the sensible and rational choice for the general public while at the same time almost criminalizing the opposing point of view. This has been the case for real life topics such as historical propaganda from the Abolitionist movement to World War Two and even to issues about food and personal health today as shown below.

There are also many examples of propaganda in modern dystopian novels. In the Hunger Games, the Capitol uses propaganda to show that the entire concept of having a yearly Hunger Games is deserved and right in the first two novels, and in the last novel it switches in order to prevent people from joining the rebellion and keeping Capitol support unwavering. The main purpose for both of these propaganda series is in order to keep the Capitol strong and in a position of power and authority; however, they do differ drastically in the message they send. The use of propaganda in the first two books helps the Capitol show how much the districts depend on them and how the districts are deserving of the punishments they receive (the games themselves) while the propaganda in the last book is more centered on keeping the support for the Capitol strong and crushing all hope of a rebellion before it actually takes place and once it does to stop it by any means necessary (including hijacking Peeta’s brain which I personally think makes this a horror novel). Some examples of fan art are shown below with each one demonstrating a different stage in the books or targeting different audiences of the Capitol’s propaganda campaign.

Shifting over to the Ender’s Game and Ender’s Shadow series by Orson Scott Card, The IF (International Fleet) which is in charge of all military action on the future Earth uses propaganda for a multitude of purposes vastly different from the Capitol’s in the Hunger Games. While they both seek unity, the reasons for unity are at a stark contrast. In Ender’s Game the IF seeks to unify Earth’s population against the Buggers (an otherworldly threat) and to raise public opinion that the Buggers are a horrible race worthy of being wiped from the universe. The propaganda also works in order to alter the minds of the young recruits it receives that are sent to Battle School in addition to the general public. By not showing the full battle of the second formic war and its sudden conclusion, Mazer Rackham becomes a public figure, a great general the kids look up to, and a hero needed to unify the world at the time. In addition, by withholding information about the Buggers making no attempts to travel back to Earth for a third time it allows them to trick the public into supporting a preemptive strike on the Buggers’ home world. Some examples of all of these scenarios are shown below, and range from movie promos to fan art.

In conclusion, propaganda plays a key role in dystopian novels. It allows the group in power to shape the minds of their followers in order to keep everyone in check and assure that things will remain in good conditions for those who stand the most to lose or those who control the most. While propaganda may come in many different forms the goal is always to convince an audience to glorify one side of an argument and make that audience actively agree with the opinion of those in power.