Ender vs. Katniss: Let the Games Begin

Ender Wiggen vs. Katniss Everdeen

When I recently read Ender’s Game, I really wanted to root for him. He is the protagonist, after all! And so many people seem to really idolize him and the book. But perhaps he’s a creation of his time: we have a lot more YA heroes to look up to now!

In that spirit, here’s a head-to-head comparison of Ender Wiggen in Ender’s Game with Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games.*
*Note: Just to make it fair, and because I’ve only read one of Orson Scott Card’s books, we’ll hold this to JUST the first book in each series. Also, this is books only.
Name Ender Wiggen Katniss Everdeen
Problem: Problem—Picked as a child to defeat the alien bugger race, because adults say so Has to fight to the death in an arena, because adults say so
Special Talent Being smart Skill with a Bow&Arrow
Character Flaws Accidentally harming others Being generally unlikeable
Age 6-13 16
Setting Future Earth/The Battle School/space Future United States (in the form of Panem)/The Arena
Parents Essentially check out of his life forever. Father deceased; mother mentally absent.
Sister Valentine Prim
Younger Friend Bean Rue
Semi-Friendly Adult Tutor Colonel Graff Haymitch
Adult Who Kinda Cares Mazer Rackem Effie Trinket
“Friends” Alai, Petra, Dink, Shen, Bean Peeta, Rue, Gale, Cinna
People to Fight All the other kids Almost all the other kids, except Rue and Peeta
The Twist Despite thinking he’s been in training, Ender has actually been fighting the buggers…and defeated them. Katniss exploits the system of the Hunger Games to keep, for the first time, two players alive, by defying The Capitol and risking her own life.

Who Wins?

Honestly, when I was reading Ender’s Game, I figured I’d do a post like this, and the “twist ending” would be that Katniss and Ender would instead decide they are so similar that they should just be BFFs, and together they would take down the adults.

But then… the end of Ender’s Game. Ender just keeps letting himself be manipulated, even when he’s an old man! He never really seems to act on his own, in that whole book, so I can only assume that if Ender Wiggen were placed in the Hunger Games with Peeta in that final pivotal moment, he would have killed Peeta because the Gamemakers said so and then felt sad about it.

If placed in Ender’s circumstances, I feel like Katniss would constantly try to rebel against the teachers at Battle School, and would ultimately lead a student rebellion, leading to peace with the distant bugger race.

For that reason, in a direct one-to-one contest, I’ve gotta give it squarely to Katniss Everdeen.

What do you think? Who’s the stronger protagonist?

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9 Comments

Filed under Reading

9 responses to “Ender vs. Katniss: Let the Games Begin

  1. Having not yet read either book but having seen both films I tend to agree with your assessment. Along with letting himself be manipulated, Ender struck me as the more passive of the two. Sure, Katniss is also forced into some decisions, but she makes more choices than is made for her, including her repeated choice to sacrifice herself for others. One could argue Ender never gets the opportunity to make those kinds of choices, and certainly their differing situations have a big influence, but Katniss still wins out for me as well.

    • Yeah, Katniss definitely has a hand in her own destiny…even when she’s being manipulated. Ender’ big move when he discovers he’s been manipulated? Take a nap through a war? …huh? Not impressive.

  2. We should consider that Ender is younger than Katniss so that does play a part in it. Ender is mostly brains than brawns. He may lack the confidence and courage to become more independent. Because of his experience he ended up being more subservient.
    Katniss experience emotional and mental trauma when she was around his age. Honestly I cannot think of one instance that she did something selfish for her benefit. Never once she mention her own hopes, purpose, and dreams in life. That was decided for her but she didn’t want it and only played along to stay alive or protect those she loves.

    • All true, though Ender is sort of attempted to be described as more mature because he is smart (arguable, though). Which character do you think would win?

      • Ender is more like Beetee. He has the intelligence and without the right equipment can out maneuver his enemies but he needs protect since he’s not a fighter. Beetee won his game by electrocuting 6 people but that was planned and it all had to be exact otherwise he dies. Ender would win if he’s in technologically environment and everything has be timely.
        Katniss is a fighter and hunter. She’s deadly with a bow but reasonably good with other weapons. She takes her time before moving forward unless she’s distracted (e.g. Peeta). Honestly she could won her alone but she was put into more danger because of Peeta’s injury. She wouldn’t easily fall for Ender’s tricks. If in nature environment hands down it’s Katniss!

      • Ender seems like quite the “accidental” fighter, but your reasoning makes sense!

      • Yeah it’s not always brawn or brains but a mix of both and where you are at given opportunity. Katniss won’t kill him because of his age but Ender is one to consider. But honestly if he was in hunger games he has to be like Beetee with the right environment and weaponry otherwise he’s a goner. Katniss is adaptable as we saw in the quell. Her only issue is close-range combat which is why she need Peeta’s strength. Small girl like her going against a big muscular guy close up. The odds are not in her favor!

  3. I tend to agree. This is a neat chart though. I’d like to see one with Katniss and Tris from Veronica Roth’s Divergent series though I think Katniss would win there too.

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