Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Ender Redux

The lovely and talented John Kessel (I hope he doesn't mind me calling him that) dropped in to this entry to note that his essay "Creating the Innocent Killer: Ender's Game, Intention, and Morality" is now online. Really, he says it much better than I could. Kessel blurbs the essay as an explanation of "why this novel is not good for your moral and emotional health." I couldn't agree more. One of my deepest reservations about the book is the fact that at the age the book seems targeted for, I was a lonely and alienated young man with a lot of rage against teachers and classmates whom I felt victimized by. In my opinion Ender's Game nurtures and justifies such rage rather than exploring and exorcising it. Kessel talks about all of this, and I came away from the essay feeling even more strongly that the underlying idea of this novel is unhealthy and perhaps even dangerous--the idea that any action, no matter how heinous, is justifiable if it is undertaken by a person who is fundamentally good, acting for the greater good. The problem, of course, is that there are as many definitions of good as there are people. Whose definition takes precedence?

When we discussed the novel in class I was both frustrated and amazed at the positive responses of my fellow Master's students; none of them seemed bothered by Card's moral copouts, and I wasn't up to the task of communicating my misgivings about the book. I wish I'd had this essay to point to then. Check it out.


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