Both Raen and Ender's childhoods are, in Chodorow's words, "unresolved" and "ambivalent. Their tumultuous childhoods, I argue, prepare each of them for their eventual communion with an alien Mother. Raen in Serpent's Reach is fifteen years old when the rival sect of Kontrin kills her entire family at the beginning of the novel 7. But Kontrins, thanks to technology they have borrowed from the Majat hives, are practically immortal or, at least, immune from diseases. The eldest in their community is over years old The fifteen-year-old Raen, therefore, is still mocked as a child for her "precocious cleverness" Since she is still essentially preadolescent, the assassinations of her mother and father possess an added significance.
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As I indicated earlier, the significance of the mother figure in this culture is undermined by the fact that azi nurses raise the children. But azi nurses, like all azi, die when they reach forty years-old. This fact, as a result, only reinforces Raen's "unresolved" and "ambivalent" attitudes toward mothering.
Often the azi nurses die while the children are still young. Raen's "real" mother explains: "It's part of growing up…. We all love them when we're young. When one loses one's nurse, one begins to learn what we are, and what they are; and that's a valuable lesson, Raen. Learn to enjoy, and to say goodbye" Raen's mother states explicitly in that explanation that the nurses, the mothers in this cultures, are "they," others, aliens. When Raen eventually meets her alien Mother, therefore, she is already longing for it and is already ready to accept it.
After Ender leaves his parents at the beginning of Ender's Game , he never sees them again. In fact, he never has a desire to see them At one point, when two unnamed officials in the military are discussing Ender's training, one of them worries sarcastically about Ender's isolation: "You're right.
That would be terrible, if he believed he had a friend. It's parents he can't have" Ender spends all of his preadolescent life in the battle school. Other than the battle training and his schoolwork, the only other edifying part of Ender's life is an animated computer game he plays on his portable desk. The computer continually creates new scenarios—puzzles and obstacles—through which the character that Ender controls must pass.
In many ways, this world within a world is reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland. For example, Ender's character approaches a well with a sign saying "Drink, Traveler" In any case, this game is explicitly regressive.
Once Ender's character reaches a very advanced level, Ender discovers that "in the game he had become a child, though usually his figure in the games was adult" Ender discovers at the very end of the trilogy that it was through this computer game that the hive Queen was able to first communicate with him, although he was not aware of it. As a result, the military, while separating Ender from his earthly family, unintentionally encourages and prepares him to meet his alien Mother.
Unlike Raen, however, Ender is distant—emotionally and physically—from this alien Mother for the duration of the first novel in the trilogy. Before Ender was born, the hive culture—which everyone on earth simply refers to as the "buggers"—had already "invaded" Earth twice. I place "invaded" in quotation marks because the buggers would not have tried to kill the humans if they had thought that they were an intelligent species.
The military grooms Ender to be the commander of a fleet of starships that are going to invade the bugger's homeworld. Ender, like everyone else on earth, treats the buggers as his ultimate enemy, even though he experiences a few moments of doubt. At the end of the first novel, Ender destroys the entire hive culture by daring to go straight for its heart—the Queen. He kills the Queen without ever seeing her face-to-face. The military leaders had told Ender that he was only running a simulation, a dry run of the invasion, but, in reality, the fate of the world was riding on his every command and maneuver.
Ender, in this sense, did not recognize the alien Mother. The child assumes that the image of the Mother is part of her or him and not a separate entity 6. And it points toward my later discussion of how the military and the government in Ender's Game create the alien Other. Ender realizes at this point that, although he is heralded as the savior of the world back on earth, he has really committed xenocide, the elimination of an entire species. Of course, Ender did not destroy the entire species. In his subsequent travels, he discovers an egg which the last Queen has left for him to find which contains the larvae needed to continue the hive culture.
He writes a story in the voice of the Queen and anonymously signs it "Speaker for the Dead. Ender eventually plants the egg at the end in the second book of the trilogy and, by the third book, it has flourished into a civilization. In the last book, he is finally able to establish a loving relationship with the Queen, the alien Mother. In contrast, Raen in Serpent's Reach establishes her relationship with the alien Mother immediately.
She joins forces with the Queen in order to exact revenge on the killers of her family. Each of these protagonists—in their initial encounters with the Queen of the hive—act out the "gender differentiation" which, according to Chodorow and Dinnerstein, occurs at the end of the pre-Oedipal scene.
A boy realizes, at that point with the help of the third figure, the father , that he is different from the mother. This difference, nevertheless, is difficult to reconcile with the innate feelings of connection during the pre-Oedipal period. Chodorow offers this explanation:. Because women mother, the sense of maleness in men differs from the sense of femaleness in women. Maleness is more conflictual and more problematic. Underlying, or built into, core male gender identity is an early, non-verbal, unconscious, almost somatic sense of primary oneness with the mother, an underlying sense of female ness that continually, usually unnoticeably, but sometimes insistently, challenges and undermines the sense of maleness….
A boy must learn his gender identity as being not-female, or not-mother. Ender, a mere cog in the military machine at the beginning of the story, adopts the military's attitude toward the hive culture and its Queen.
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The military's attitude emphasizes the differences between the humans and hive cultures, instead of the potential connections between them. Ender, despite his allegiance to the military, eventually feels torn between this military mindset and his vague, but growing attachment to his alien Mother. Within Chodorow's psychoanalytic framework, Ender is caught between his need to assert his "maleness" and his innate feeling of connection with his mother. Looking back on these years, Ender comments: "We thought they wanted to kill us.
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We were wrong, but we had no way to know that…. Except that I knew better. I knew my enemy. That's how I beat her, the hive queen, I knew her so well that I loved her, or maybe I loved her so well that I knew her. I didn't want to fight her anymore. I wanted to quit. I wanted to go home. So I blew up her planet" Speaker for the Dead Dinnerstein comments that a boy's "main task is to find balance between two contrasting varieties of love, one that provides primitive emotional sustenance, and another that promises … to offer membership in the wider community where prowess is displayed….
His old tie to this mother starts at this point to be felt as an obstacle" Dinnerstein in her chapters on "The Dirty Goddess" and "The Ruling of the World" explicitly connects a boy's need for differentiation from the mother with men's later misogyny and abuse of the female body. Ender, by fulfilling his military assignment, unwittingly participates in his patriarchal society's systematic physical devaluing and ultimate disregard of women. Although the military in Ender's Game misleads Ender and most civilians into dehumanizing the hive culture, the military hierarchy, as earlier examples have indicated, does possess a preliminary understanding of "merged" consciousness of the hive and the dominant maternal presence of the Queen.
Despite this knowledge, however, the military leader still portrays the hive as "buggers," as a distant and irreconcilably different alien force. When the military invades the hive world with Ender in command , they have not been provoked. In fact, by this time, the hive has realized that the humans are an intelligent species and do not want a war. Nevertheless, the military needs an alien.
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She experiences a continuation of the two-person re lationship of infancy" Reproduction 96—see also Dinnerstein As my earlier analysis indicated, Raen aligns herself with the "blue-hive" immediately after the death of her family. She becomes another member of that hive and treats the Queen as Mother. It is built upon, and does not contradict, her primary sense of oneness and identification with her mother…. They do not define themselves as 'notmen' or 'not-male' but as 'I, who am female'" Feminism Raen, I have yet to mention, is also a queen.
Before her family dies, she was in line to become the next leader of the Kontrin in the Reach. The Queen of the blue-hive feels a continuity with her because of this fact. The hive Mother keeps repeating: "Queen….
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Feed Kethiuy's young queen. Heal her. She is not threat to me. She is important to the hive" Unlike Ender, Raen is able to fall back easily into a pre-Oedipal attachment to Mother. This residual pre-Oedipal attachment, however, still causes problems for women and Raen, in particular. Chodorow states: "The pre-Oedipal attachment of daughter to mother continues to be concerned with early mother-infant relational issues.
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It sustains the mother-infant exclusivity and the intensity, ambivalence, and boundary confusion of the child still pre-occupied with issues of dependence and individuation" Reproduction Chodorow and Dinnerstein speak elsewhere of this "boundary confusion" in women; they explain it in terms of the inability of women to possess an independent identity in their relationships Reproduction ; Dinnerstein When Raen is escaping from the rival Kontrin who are invading her home, she is not sure where to go at first. She realizes that no ordinary human place will offer her refuge from the wide arm of her enemies.