Marionettes of the Government: How Totalitarian Governments Use their Citizens in "Ender's Game" and "1984"

Ashleigh Bowne, Olivia Neider, Nicole Willekes, Tim O'Neil

Discussion Questions

1. Should a government restrict personal freedoms in order to decrease violence and crimes?
2. Peter Jennings once said, "Whoever controls the media, controls reality." Do you agree? Do we believe the news we read and see on television?
3. The government in Ender's world plays a huge role in reproductive decisions, imposing financial penalties and social stigma on families who have more than two children but exerting pressure on specific families who show great generic potential to have a "third" like Ender, and the government in 1984 controls sexual expression through propganda. Is government ever justified in involving itself in family planning decisions? Do Card or Orwell seem to imply that governments or international alliances be allowed to have such control over individuals? Why or why not?
4. Compare Peter to another powerful government figure in history. What are some ways they're tactics/ideologies are similar? How are they different?
5. How do Winston and Ender try to find normalcy/solace in their lives? How do these activities and/or places help them in their lives? How are they the same? Different?
6. How are Winston and Ender different in their own personal goals throughout the book? Do they both want to overthrow the dysfunctional governments or do they just want to escape them?
7. Are the wars in both novels justified or are the governments hyper-defensive as they try to defend their totalitarian worlds?
8. 1984 has some interesting examples of paradox and irony through “double think”. Can you think of any examples of “double think” on our own world and how things can appear to be contradictory or false but actually reveal the truth?
9. What aspects of Ender’s and Winston’s lives are dictated by the government? How are they used by these governments? What aspects of Ender or Wilson’s character appear to be the most useful to their governments? Discuss the differences.
10. The government in Ender's Game fosters hate and fear of the Buggers just as Big Brother's government uses the two-minute hate to create hatred and fear of the "enemy" in 1984. How do the governments in these texts create such strong divisions between "us" and "them" for their citizens?
11. How do the characters in the two novels use language to distinguish status?
12. Although both novels take place in technology-oriented settings, they both involve brief scenes in natural settings. How do the protagonists act differently in these setting as opposed to their regular environments?

Class Activities

Activity #1: Creative Writing about Ender's Game and 1984:
Students will be asked to write a two pages on the following topic:
Option #1: What if Ender awoke one day in Winston's world? Where would he live in this world of 1984? Where would he work? What would Winston's government do with him? OR: Option #2: What if Winston awoke one day in Ender's world? Address the same issues that you would with option #1.
This paper may be written in the form of an essay, a journal, a memoir, fan fiction, a blog, or any other creative way of writing that you would like to structure it. Incorporate at least two quotes from either of the two novels in your work.
Students will get one day in class to work on the project and the rest will be assigned. A day for peer revision should also be allowed. Students should share these with a writing workshop group before turning them in.
The emphasis in the assessment of this assignment will be on the students' comprehension of the character's personality, and also on the students' abililty to have the character react beyond the setting of their original story.

‍‍‍‍Activity #2‍‍‍‍: Graphic Novels
Using the graphic novels from our resource section, students will be asked read the first chapter/issue of both novels and then answer the following questions in small groups. Each small group will be asked to present their findings in front of the class in a brief oral presentation.

What features do the graphic representations of Winston and Ender share with your own percieved image of the characters? If possible justify your reasoning with examples from the text version of the novels.
How do the different ways the graphic novels use text effect the way the story is told?
The reader is not privy to Ender's thoughts in the graphic novel, but the 1984 graphic novel is almost translated verbatum. Why do you think the artists/writers made these decisions?
How does the difference in focus between the two representations change what we have discussed about the government's involvement in these character's lives?
Activity #3: Creative Crafts
Students will be assigned groups and be asked to complete the following for in-class presentations:
Students will be assigned to complete a project by choosing three of the following options: audio, visual, text, video, or images.
They will use one of the following technology resources to create their project: Glogster, Prezi, PowerPoint, or MightyBell.
They may choose to use any/all of the following technology resources to help them gather materials/information for their projects: GoogleArt, StockPhoto, Youtube, or even the original text (i.e. quotes from either novel)
They will choose one of the following thematic focuses: Distorting Government, Characterization, or Language of Power.
They must use at least 2 quotes from each novel that supports their focus in their projects.
Students will present their projects in class in a "show-and-tell" setting.

Original Multimedia.

Ender and Winston: Pawns Tipping the Balance

Additional Resources

1984 Discussion Questions
This is a homework assignment filled with discussion questions of 1984 centering around the government. I found it to be useful specifically to create discussion questions that can be used for both 1984 and Ender's Game.

2.1984 Discussion Questions
This link leads to discussion questions for Ender's Game somewhat centered around government created for a book club. I found it to be useful specifically to create discussion questions that can be used for both 1984 and Ender's Game.

3.Ender's Ansible
This is an online resource dedicated to news and discussion about Ender's Game. This would be great to get students involved in with the online forums and discussion boards. There are also pages of "Battle School Slang," Ender's Game memes, inspired music, fan art, and much more.

4. A Glance at Orwell as an Author/ 1984
This link includes great resources for studying 1984 with your students and research into the context that Orwell wrote this novel in and also the reception that it got upon entering the market after Orwell wrote it. Resources such as pictures of where Orwell wrote the novel, images of the original manuscripts, and reveiws of the novel from that time period are included.

5.Lesson Plans for 1984
This link has multiple lesson plans designed for a study of 1984. Great resource for discussion questions about 1984 which relate to the students' own world.

6. Role Playing
This is an interactive role play game (actually designed by Professor Rozema) that gives the students characters within 3 societal groups: the thought police, the brotherhood, or workers in Victory Square and has them interact with one another within the confines and rules of Big Brother’s government.

7. Ender's Game: Graphic Novel
This article allows you access to a graphic novel edition of Ender’s Game. This could be a great companion to reading the novel to help students visualize the world Card has created.

8. Science Fiction Magazine
This is an online science fiction/fantasy magazine created by Orson Scott Card. It might be interesting to have students study other science fiction submissions and look for similar themes between them all. That could help in tying in a writing prompt or project as well.

9. Imgur Album: Ender's Game
I uploaded some different version of the Ender's Game cover (and a movie poster) to an imgur album. I thought I could be interesting to see how different artists represented Ender over time and how there isn't one correct way to interpret something from a text. Also different aspects could be analyzed, like why Ender has his back to the viewer on some and how the comic features 3 characters instead of just Ender and how one of the covers doesn't have any people at all.

10. Newspeak Dictionary
A wiki full of newspeak terms and definitions. I thought it was cool to see them all spelled out in one place. Perhaps we could have students make their own term or rework something like a poem or one of their own past journal entries with newspeak.

11. Graphic Novel: 1984
A graphic novelization of the first couple chapters of 1984.