Ender’s Game isn’t just children’s fare. It raises a lot of pertinent social and corporeal issues that make you question the established order of things in the book. The actions of some of the characters are transgressions of the worst kind, all in the name of what they see as the greater good.
The American government pushes a child to the brink of madness time and time again without any remorse, making him reach the limits of his cerebral capacity till he has nothing to hold on to for comfort. It doesn’t matter to them that the individual suffers as long as the collective cause is achieved. The kicker is that these decisions aren’t being made by corporate non-entities; they’re being made by people who know full well the effects their actions will have on a child’s mind.
Soldiers being brainwashed to believe in a cause is nothing new. But not knowing who the enemy is, if there even is an enemy, and training them mindlessly till it’s the only thing they know is another story altogether. The Battle School tethers children to their cause with promise of future glory while simultaneously keeping war on Earth at bay by dangling a possibly nonexistent enemy at them. It teaches the soldiers that everything is secondary, severing all their connections to people and making them believe it’s all they live for.
Destroying an entire race without as much as a second thought or even considering it should be unfathomable to anyone. The lack of empathy the humans have for the buggers and their inability to understand them is just a sad state of affairs. The worst part is that they don’t even try to see it from the buggers’ point of view, not realizing that their first attack was because they were unaware of there being other sentient beings. Ender sees through the Queen’s mind’s eye and it helps him realize that they’re aren’t as hostile as the Command School and most people on Earth made them out to be.
The children at the Battle Station and at the Command School display a level of maturity unheard-of in most kids their age. It’s not just because they’re all child prodigies; the harsh conditions they’re put in force them to grow emotionally before their time. When they are siloed to the point where they only have themselves, they strengthen their minds and grow exponentially faster than most children have to. They can see beyond themselves, can let go of individualism and display amazing bouts of synergy that are ironically reminiscent of how the buggers operate.
The sheer amount of betrayal Ender goes through and the trauma in its wake is just staggering. He finds out that that he was lied to time and time again; from him finding out his sister’s messages to him were being intercepted, to dealing with the realization that he was responsible for the decimation of an entire race, took a massive toll on him. Coupled with how hard he was pushed by the Command School toward the end, most people would have caved under the pressure.