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QUESTION:

I am writing an analysis essay for Ender's Game for my High School English class. After reading many reviews and interviews, I put together some ideas that somehow worked. You have said that history is usually doomed to repeat itself, as well as that you have been influenced by American history. In my American History class we just finished studying World War II, and as I thought about both, some things began to click. My thesis is that Ender is symbolic of American involvement in WWII. Obviously, you did not write Ender's Game with that in mind, however you have said that much of your writing is influenced by subconscious ideas. Although the idea is not perfect, many parallels are there. For example, the fact that Ender's life is controlled from his birth parallels American foreign policy, in which America was almost controlled by European events. Ender's growth and development through the story-learning to use his resources for war-parallels the industrial development of the United States. Mazer's victory-a turning point in the bugger war, could be paralleled to the key victory, caused by only 12 lost bombers, at Midway. The buggers could be the Japanese, and therefore, the invasion could be paralleled to island hopping. Finally, the final bomb dropped on the bugger world could symbolize the atom bombing of Hiroshima. These are just a few of the possible parallels between the story and American history. Am I completely wrong? Do you think that the story could not be interpreted in this way, or that it was unintentional and should not be interpreted in this way? Or is it possible that, at least subconsciously, you were making these parallels in your book to learned history?

-- Submitted by Mike

OSC REPLIES: - September 30, 2002

The parallels with the campaign in the Pacific are interesting. Technically, the "island-hopping" strategy was to bypass islands and leave Japanese forces stranded there, unable to be resupplied while Americans did not waste any of their own men or materials in trying to take the island. This is not at all what the overall human strategy in the Hive Queen war was: There, they had to destroy EVERY enemy fleet, regardless of cost. None could be bypassed. Still, the Hiroshima/Nagasaki bombs might be viewed as a parallel. However, even though they were aimed at industrial cities, these bombs were still meant as a demonstration, not a final, nation destroying bomb. The real equivalent might have been to drop A-bombs simultaneously on all Japanese cities at once, effectively wiping out the Japanese nation and people all at once. Which we did not do, and one hopes would not have done.

The main reason that the wars cannot be seen as parallel is that in WWII, we held a slight technological and military-intelligence edge over the enemy. In the war with the Hive Queens, humans were definitely technologically inferior. Our one devastating weapon was based partly on technology we learned from them. If we were going to use it, we had to use it to effect a complete victory - otherwise, they would quickly return with such a weapon to use against us - and we were confined to only one planet ourselves.

My military thinking in my fiction is based on the situations I posit at the time. Patterns of history repeat themselves, because human behaviors remain constant as to principles of strategy and tactics. However, none of my stories is meant to be a "disguised" treatment of a real world event. If I want to write about WWII, I'll write about WWII <grin>.

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