A War Of Gifts: An Ender Story. Orson Scott Card, 2007. Tom Doherty Associates, LLC New York. 126 pages.

Reading has always had a positive and comforting effect over me because the stories of other people’s’ lives help me get some understanding of some of the painful and senseless things that have happened during my life.   My abusive parents were obviously deranged and I still feel angry, disgusted, and scared when I think of them, but Card’s story gave me some insight into their violent and destructive minds.
 
Six year old Zeck’s father Brother Morgan is a physically abusive religious zealot. As the head minister of The Church of Pure Christ, Brother Morgan feels it is his sacred duty as a father to chasten and “purify” his son. So he regularly beats Zeck until he bleeds-all in the name of God.
 
Brother Morgan’s violence reminds me of my father. As a child it felt as if I were being stalked and hunted by him when he was not giving me a fun horsie back ride. I wanted his love and attention, yet I knew a part of him was evil, full of hate and rage.
Both of my parents actually tried to destroy me and it has always been confusing to remember the the good things about them along with the bad. I am constantly learning (and probably always will be) how to see the world differently from the dark scary place they deliberately convinced me it was.
A War Of Gifts is set somewhere far in the future when the earth is being attacked by the alien ant-like Formics. If you read Ender’s Game, you know what I’m talking about. If not, I know it’s kind of out there but bear with me for a bit.
 
The U.S. goverment recognized Zeck as having superior intelligence and a innate sense of decency. Man-made modifications to DNA had been put into place to hopefully create someone who could figure out how to stop the Formics and thus save the earth. Anyway, Zeck is removed from his parents’ custody by conscription and sent to the Battle School where he meets Ender Wiggin.

At the Battle School he refuses to participate in war training because of his pacifist religion, and further alienates himself from his schoolmates by reporting their prohibited practice of Santa Claus traditions. No one wants to associate with Zeck and he is all alone. Even the instructors don’t like him.

Wiggin, another extremely bright and insightful child, attempts to help Zeck by making him face what he already knows but is afraid to think about-his father’s inability to control his own rage. Zeck reacts to truth of his mixture of fear of love and love for his father by physically attacking Ender with rage: “It was what Father must have felt, purifying him. The smaller body, helpless, complete subject to his will. It filled a certain kind of man with rage that had to tear into its prey. That had to inflict pain, break the skin, draw blood and tears and screaming from the victim” (112).

As for me, my parents told me they were abusing me because I was born for just that; as if I were some kind of receptacle to empty their negative emotions into.

Blaming the victim has always been a very effective and simple strategy. It is difficult for children to understand because they need parents to be loving and trustworthy. My mother fed and clothed me, sent me to school and sexually abused me.

The truth was Zeck and his mother hid Zeck’s ability to remember everything he read because they were afraid his father would say that his talent came from the devil (13-14). It is probable if Brother Morgan had known about his son’s extraordinary abilities, he would have beat Zeck even more because this father was full of fear.

Zeck felt that his father loved him and he tried to believe and follow his father’s teachings, but he also knew he could not completely trust his father (19). Zeck is confused because what he intellectually knew and what he felt did not match.

I don’t know what all my parents’ issues were. They were probably both sexually abused. I sensed a tremendous amount of misery and hopelessness in them. There was also some mental health and alcohol issues. This book spoke to all of my parts by helping me to understand that what happened had nothing to do with me and like me my parents were human.

 

In this book Zeck was only eight years old when he began to figure out his father’s lies. Brother Morgan acted like a monster, but was a man.

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