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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Discussions About Orson Scott Card » Ender's Game - sleeping in the nude!?

Author Topic: Ender's Game - sleeping in the nude!?
Member # 9522

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So I am re-reading Ender's Game for the first time in ten years, and also reading the comics at the same time and noticing how they obviously toned down the comics for a younger audience.

But one thing struck me as weird (pedo-creepy) and I question why it is in the story in the first place. Some of the kids in Battle School are sleeping in the nude. Now why is OSC even suggesting such an image in the story? He mentions this on two occasion (maybe three).

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Member # 7625

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I need bigger eyeroll smileys for this.

[Roll Eyes] [Roll Eyes] [Roll Eyes]

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Member # 10512

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maybe it gets really hot in battle school.

I'm a CIT at a summer camp now, and it's pretty normal here (usually with boxers though) cause the extreme warm weather.

I guess that seems more weird to some people than others.

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The Black Pearl
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It compounds the atmosphere of how different a term of battle school is in contrast to normal children. I imagine those suits are uncomfortable and battle school students GO COMMANDO apparently.
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Member # 89

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It's a behavior we normally associate with adults. As such, it goes along with all the other ways in which the Battle school child soldiers are adultlike beyond their years.

(Seriously, if they were at home, their mothers would make them wear their pajamas.)

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Blayne Bradley

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It`s realistic for military personel to `lose` so to speak our traditional sense of modesty or shame about being naked among fellow soldiers, since obviously in combat situation when you need to take a whiz, or a bath in a river and some such modesty gets in the way of combat effectiveness.

So this is the enevitable result, neither encouraged (cuz of regulations, theyre still students) or discouraged (because its a good sign of acclimination).

As a former Reservist we had shower stalls that were fairly private but there was a definate sense that `yeah, we`re going easy on you` and that in a proper full time force deployment this is a luxory we wouldnt have.

But thats canada, finland and other european nations its alot tougher and Battleschool being ostensibly an international institution... I can easily see tougher norms from «china and former eastern bloc countries being the norm.

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I'm going to have to agree with Blayne. My husband's military and it's a lot easier to sleep in just boxers - in the event of an emergency, its faster to throw on the uniform if you don't have to take off clothes first to do it. It's not encouraged or discouraged, but it's just the norm.
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Member # 7549

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Two acts of severe violence among children and you are worried about casual non-sexual references about them sleeping in the nude? This is the attitude that bothers me most in our culture. Violence ok, nudity not ok. Kiefer Sutherland can commit severe acts of torture on 24, but a single brief bare breast in a Super Bowl causes massive government fines and complaint.

(Note, I personally have no problem with either in Ender's Game, its the priorities that people have that bother me.)

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Member # 9522

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Stephan - Nudity among adults is fine IMO, in fact I totally agree with you on the backwardness of the total acceptance of extreme violence in TV/movies/music etc. but god forbid if we see a nipple (e.g., Janet), I just found it weird that Orson needed to add that fact to the story. And more than once. Why do I need to know they were in the nude?

I will have to assume since I am not a parent the idea of seeing young kids running around naked is different. But the idea of nude male and female 6-13 year olds running around a battle school that adults are monitoring via camera is creepy.

Blayne/hunt2005 - No problem, the military are adults and again, I have no problem with adult nudity or even sex.

Anyhow, I will have to accept Yozhik's explanation since it makes to most sense.

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New Member
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While not presuming to speak to Mr. Card’s motivations, here are a few observations about the use of the battle school ‘sleep uniform’ as used to progress the Ender stories as well as some flagrant speculation on my part.

The battle school ‘sleep uniform’ was not really surprising, based on the fact that the children didn’t even have socks. When Ender first approached Ali in the battle room and they become friends they talk about this fact. The implication that I personally took from this was that it followed an underlying theme. In battle school life, the game was everything. Students had a flash suit and either an army uniform or a launchy jump suit. Nothing else mattered. Nothing else was issued.

The idea of being in skin in the barracks was also used to illustrate the ineptitude of Bonzo Madrid as a commander later in the book. Ender reflects to himself that the Bonzo’s policy of not allowing skin near Petra is foolish and divisive, setting her apart from the rest of the army.

Casual nudity in the barracks was then used again to underline the difference between the buttoned down and polished image that Bonzo tried to project and the lax and disorganized leadership of Rose the Nose. Rose first appears on a bed, in his skin, in the army barracks like any common solder.

Mr. Card also used nudity outside the barracks on several occasions to add depth to the story. The three that come to mind are the boys forced to run down the hall because they could not dress fast enough, Dink stripping off his flash suit to let the crazy seep out of him in the battle room, and Ender’s helplessness in the shower during his final showdown with Bonzo.

Finally, the fact that most of the children slept nude ended up being useful to the story line in Ender’s Shadow when Bean figured out that the clothes were used to track the students.

I personally didn’t find anything creepy, malicious or inappropriate in any of these uses. While I admit that I have taken a bit of liberty in assigning motive for their use, I know that in my eyes they each contributed to building a real and thoroughly developed world for Ender to live in.

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Member # 12377

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To be honest, I would suspect anyone making an issue out of this about being a closet case. You know the old saying.
"Methinks sir doth protest too much"

PC has already gone way too far over the top; as a child I can remember Noddy and BigEars sharing a bed; now they have to live in separate houses, just in case!!

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Member # 11736

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What did a student "own" his desk, a uniform or two and his flash suit. All of which were stock (except for poor little Bean) not having jammies was a part of the psychosis put upon the kids, clothes dont matter and neither does nudity.In Battle School the only thing to be embarrassed about is defeat and stupidity, which in the context were the same thing.
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Member # 9499

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I would also like to add that the kids were taken up there when they were about seven. My experience around little kids shows that if society isn't constantly drilling into them the need for clothes, they have no natural sense of modesty. My 6-year-old son and 7-year old cousin would both be more than happy to strip down and change into their swimsuits in the middle of the backyard, in front of each other and everyone else. It's a constant fight to get them to recognize what is and is not appropriate. Hence, if you take a bunch of 7-year-old kids away from society, into a place where they share communal showers anyway, it's not really unusual that clothes would cease to be a priority for them unless an adult was standing over them forcing the issue. As they aged, with no one telling them nudity was wrong, there would be no reason to change their pattern.
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