Ender's Game is a science fiction novel set in the fairly distant future, in a time when aliens have already attacked Earth twice and the population is so great that a worldwide birth limit has been imposed. While some of Ender's Game takes place in the peaceful North Carolina countryside, the greater part of the story is set in outer space, and at the very end, on an alien planet. The exotic time and place immediately heighten the sense of adventure in the story, but mainly the setting reflects the feelings of Ender Wiggen, the main character of the novel. The physical isolation of the battle and command schools parallels Ender's own feelings of isolation and helplessness. The novel is written from the omniscient point of view, although most of the story is concerned with the thoughts of Ender Wiggin, the main character of the novel. Through his eyes the mood is one of stifling helplessness mingled with a sence of urgency until after the climax when it becomes one of hope.
Ender Wiggen is the indisputable hero of the story. He is the perfect man (or boy) for the job: independent, strong willed, mentally tough, creative and mature. While Ender shares the leadership abilities of his brother Peter, he is also sensitive and good-hearted like his sister Valentine. The compassionate side of Ender is not what interests his Machiavellian military instructors, however. They manipulate Ender's talent and try to forge him into a strong, ruthless leader. Colonel Graff, the head of the battle school, is especially merciless and unscrupulous. Graff isolates Ender from his peers, drives him to the point of exhaustion, and, on several occasions, sets Ender up for situations in which he must actually kill other students in self defense.
Probably the most important secondary characters in this story are Ender's brother and sister, Peter and Valentine. Even though the both are geniuses like Ender, they represent two opposite ends of the personality spectrum. Peter is a sadistic, persuasive, and conniving human being who wants to gain control of the world while Valentine is caring, compassionate and moral even though she eventually aids Peter in his quest to rule the world. Together they create a formidable and balance team, though neither truly trusts the other. Most of the other characters in this novel are other students at the battle school. There are basically three types of students: The intolerant, malignant students who continuously attack Ender both verbally and physically, the few caring, friendly students who help Ender along the way, and the submissive, compliant younger students that Ender 0commands. The only real exception is Bean, one of Ender's subordinates who in many ways is like a younger version of Ender, and who later becomes one of Ender's squadron commanders. One other unique character is Mazer Rackham, Ender's instructor in the last part of the book, a man who single-handedly defeated the aliens in an earlier invasion. While ruthless and insensitive like Ender's other instructors, Mazer could easily be Ender in the future, just as Bean could easily be a younger version of Ender.
There are two major conflicts in Ender's Game, one internal and the other external. The main external conflict involves Ender's struggles to overcome the obstacles placed in his path by his military supervisors. To make him as strong, creative and independent as possible, the instructors isolate Ender and put him in situations that seem impossible. As soon as Ender accomplishes a task, the instructors give him an even more difficult one. The main internal conflict of the story is a direct result of the main external conflict. Ender is extremely determined to be successful at the schools, but he feels isolated and helpless, exactly how his instructors want him to feel. Ender knows that he is the only hope for leading the fight against the aliens, but because the instructors make his life so difficult, he feels that he is in a no win situation. Another obstacle for Ender in that he fears that through his military training he is becoming like Peter, the one thing that he fears the most. The thought is abhorrent to Ender, and it causes his determination to wave in several points of the book. Although the premise for the story is that ender must lead the fight against the aliens, the actual conflict is a relatively minor one, especially because at the time Ender still believes he is in training, and not really fighting the aliens. It is a vital conflict, however, because the story could not occur without the aiens as enemies. Another minor conflict concerns Valentine. She wants to be a part of Peter's plan to gain control of the world, but she does not want to work with of for Peter. This conflict is not extremely important to the story, however, even though Peter and Valentine's plot to take over the world is important.