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I'm doing a research paper on you as an author. I have read many of your books including Ender's Game and Songmaster. I was wondering whether you were attempting to make a statement about children, and the effects of being pushed too hard (growing up before they are ready). I was just wondering whether you were making some kind of statement.

-- Submitted by Ellena Fickett

OSC REPLIES: - April 26, 2000

I wasn't "making a statement," I was telling a story -- but it was a story about children being pushed too hard into adult roles. I've seen it many times, in the lives of friends and of ancestors who live on in family lore: When a child takes on adult responsibility too early, it deprives the child of vital stages of development. Often such children, when they grow up, are torn between the need to be responsible and the yearning to have the irresponsibility and freedom of adolescence, which is an important stage of life. I am impatient with the way that children are constantly the victims of our national moods and the guinea pigs of our experiments. Right now my kindergartner is being given homework, for heaven's sake, and has to make up any work she misses because of illness or family trips. This is kindergarten! Have these adults lost their minds? But ... in the effort to "improve" education, "more homework" has become the mantra, with the result that at every grade level children are being given homework to excessive degrees, merely to make up for the REAL problems, which include parental noninvolvement, lack of discipline in the schools, bad or distracted teaching, and poor course design -- among others. Children are also the primary victims of our national experiment with quick-and-easy divorce and meaningless marriages -- all children, not just the children of divorced parents. The irony is that any culture that intends to survive into the next generation must be very good and winning the allegiance of the next generation to that culture -- but we seem bent on making our children hate the culture in which they were raised. It doesn't bode well for the future of the American community.

But is that my "statement" in Ender's Game? No. It's my statement here in this answer to your question. In Ender's Game, I was simply exploring a believable (to me) situation in which sending children to war is believed to be necessary for the survival of the human species, and what the costs of such a situation might be on some of the key characters involved. I was following where the story led. It is only afterward that I can find "statements" that might validly be made about the story. And those statements are only valid to the degree that I was following my unconscious beliefs in the process of writing the story rather than trying to bend the story to fit my conscious beliefs. But now we're getting perilously close to the realm of philosophy ...

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