Monday, February 18, 2008

The Adolescent Military Genius versus the Friendly Neighborhood Vampires: An Analysis of Orson Scott Card and his Influence on Twilight. (Part II)

(This is the continuation of a previous post. See here.)

It would be a mistake to confuse a society with a group of friends. While the societies that populate Orson Scott Card’s novels are often quite small and might be passed off as a group of friends, it is not friendship that binds them. Often the societies in Orson Scott Card’s novels are built by people thrown together against their will. They do not necessarily like each and often never come to like each other. Despite this fact, there is a bound that does form between characters. Card’s plots tend to revolve around the issue of his characters, despite the fact that there may not be any great friendship between them, attempting to build a society together. For their societies to succeed Card’s characters must confront the question of what are they willing to sacrifice for it, ultimately for people whom they owe nothing to and have no logical reason to care for.

The relationships that Ender builds are very different than what you find in Harry Potter. As Dumbledore points out, Harry’s strength comes from his love for his friends, Ron and Hermione. Harry, Ron and Hermione are a group because they like and care for each other. Their bonds to each other came out of their own free will. The contrast to Harry is Lord Voldemort who, while he has followers and people who worship him as a God and are even willing to die for him, has no friends. Voldemort is completely self sufficient, loves nothing and has no need for anyone’s love. This, ultimately, is Voldemort’s undoing.

Ender has a lot in common with Lord Voldemort. He is set up from the very beginning as a loner. The people who run the Battle School, purposely isolate him, surround him with people who are hostile to him and, in one case, would go so far as to try to kill him. When Ender succeeds at forming bonds with people he is immediately taken away to another group. Because of this Ender is forced to turn completely inward. The only person he can rely on is himself; he has no friends. Ender’s victory over the Battle School system is that, despite his in inability to form friendships, he does build relationships, many of which prove capable of overcoming the limitations of time and space.

What Card’s societies can be are families. Families, particularly in the world of Orson Scott Card, are groups of people thrown together, with complete disregard for compatibility or love. Despite this, family members do form bounds of loyalty with each other, even with family members that they dislike and continue to dislike.

This connection between societies and families is brought home by the fact that the one close emotional bound that Ender maintains over his years at the Battle School is with his sister Valentine on earth. She reunites with him after the battle with the Buggers and goes with him into exile. In the later books Ender marries a woman named Novinha and becomes a step-father to her children. In addition Ender has a daughter of sorts, a computer entity named Jane. These characters, and in a more abstract way the various residents of Lusitania, become a new society for Ender to deal with. Card purposely blurs the line between society and family to the point that they become extensions of each other.

Considering Card’s emphasis on societies/families, it is not a coincidence that Card is an outspoken fan of the television show Firefly. In Card’s review of the Firefly film, Serenity, he commented that:

On that ship [Serenity] we had an interlocking community with a history, rather like what has been a-building with Lost and what was developed over the years with Friends. … The key to this kind of movie is that you create a community that the audience wishes they belonged to, with a leader that even audience members who don't follow anybody would willingly follow. That will be the key to Ender's Game if the movie is ever successfully made; and it is the key to Serenity.

Firefly and Lost for that matter are stories about people thrown together by chance. These people do not necessarily like each other and they may even hate each other, yet they are forced to come together as a common group.


Whitney said...

Dear Benzion --

First off, thank you for telling me about 'Til we have faces. I had no idea -- definitely will pick this up.

Secondly, thank you for commenting on my blog again. I am a huge Orson Scott Card fan. I saw him in the airport this February in Salt Lake City -- he had sandals on. I gushingly told him how much I loved his books, and that I've read nearly all of them.

I've put you in my google feedreader, and look forward to reading your posts on Card and Meyer more closely.

Reconsidering my Stephenie Meyer commentary thanks to you.

My best,

Whitney Johnson

Izgad said...

Thank you.
That is most kind of you. While the point of writing a blog seems to be to be told how you are a disgrace and should be ashamed of yourself, I sure prefer your kind of comment.
All the best.