Ender's Game

Ender's Game Summary and Analysis of Chapters 5 and 6

Chapter 5

Two voices are discussing Ender's incident on the flight. Graff seems to be one of the two, since the other commends him for allowing such a thing as a broken arm, even though Graff insists that it was an accident--it was too strong a reaction, and it made the other kid into a hero. Ender might be too isolated now. But they realize that they can do little for him, because if Ender comes to believe that anyone will ever help him out, he's "wrecked." Ender needs to know that there will never be an "easy way out," or else he will not become the commander they need for the upcoming war.

The boys arrive at Battle School, and Ender comes in last, so he gets the bottom bunk next to the door. He follows some directions on paper in order to activate his locker and "desk" (some kind of computer). Ender's locker includes the desk, outfits, and some kind of laser gun for freezing others during the battle games.

The boys are given an orientation, and a man named Dap says that he is the only person at the school who is paid to be nice to them. Dap warns them against fighting and the prospect of being "iced," that is, killed or sent home.

Bernard, the boy with the broken arm, starts to gather a gang of the larger boys of the launch group. "It was Ender against the gang again ... Peter again, but without Valentine." Ender feels homesick, but he is better than the others at hiding his feelings.

In school, the boys go through hours of classes, watch videos of the past invasions, and play in the game room--"what they lived for." Ender tends to go to the harder games to study tactics. After watching one game, Ender asks to play against one of the older boys, and Ender soon learns how to beat him. By the third game, Ender wins "quickly and efficiently." Some of the others start to use his tactics.

Bernard's group picks on Ender, but Ender starts planning a rival group. When Bernard makes fun of Shen for "shimmying his butt when he walks," Ender sends an anonymous message to everyone saying, "Cover your butt. Bernard is watching." Although the group continues to pick on Ender, everyone soon sees another message: "I love your butt. Let me kiss it. -Bernard." Dap seems to know who was responsible, but he takes no action. Thus, Bernard's "attempt to be ruler of the room was broken" and Ender became less isolated.

Chapter 6

Graff talks with someone who is apparently leading the International Fleet. Ender is being prepared to become the fleet's "battle commander," and the men are discussing his involvement in the "mind game." Ender keeps returning to the "Giant's Drink" part of the game, which is supposedly impossible to win: the giant gives a choice of two drinks, but the player always dies after choosing one. One boy named Pinual may have killed himself because of this game.

Back to the children's perspective, the chapter portrays the boys' introduction to the battleroom. Right away, Ender starts teaching himself the mechanics of the null gravity. He teaches himself to maneuver and does much better than the others, though he and Alai start to learn together. They also investigate their guns. With Bernard and Shen, in about 20 minutes they have "frozen" the practice suits of everyone else. These experiences help establish a friendship between Ender and Alai.

Ender plays the "mind game" and generally does well, but the game always returns to the Giant's drink. Although he figures out that the choice is pointless, Ender keeps returning and trying to find ways to beat the Giant, because the Giant talks about a "Fairyland" that the players can go to if they beat him. Finally, Ender kicks over the two glasses, jumps into the Giant's face, and digs into the Giant's eye. Eventually, the Giant falls over dead, and Ender reaches Fairyland. A bat flies up and notes that "nobody ever comes here." Ender worries that even in the game, he is a murderer--"Peter would be proud of me."


In Chapter 5, it is interesting that Ender feels thankful to Peter for teaching him to weep silently. If Peter has done anything to help him, it has been to make Ender into the type of person who knows how to deal with an enemy. Ender has a strong exterior and a strong ability to be independent.

Others in Ender's life tend to resolve conflicts by fighting. Stilson and Peter beat Ender up, and Ender often needs to fight back. But, as in the case of Bernard, Ender is excellent at using his brain in order to fight his battles, whether he chooses violence or not. With Bernard, he breaks the computer code in order to send messages to all the other students in class. This choice of method shows Ender's maturity. Ender's strategy rips apart Bernard's gang, ending Ender's isolation without any physical violence on his part, although Bernard's group still tends to choose violence. Ender's leadership skills are starting to show in Chapter 5.

In Chapter 6, we hear of Pinual, the one child in Battle School who killed himself. It seems that the mind game led Pinual to the breaking point, most likely at the Giant's Drink. It is also significant that despite the harshness of the training, no other students have passed their breaking point to such a degree.

In the battleroom, when Ender jumps to join Alai, he is not thinking about taking away Bernard's friend and support system--or building his own--but that is essentially what he does by bridging the gap between them. When they make the plan to shove off each other in the air, and Alai asks, "OK?" he is asking whether it is okay for them to work together. Ender's reaction is to "take Alai by the wrist and get ready to push off." These two boys, in effect, are the reason for the sudden "cure" of the "disease" that the fleet commander thinks their launch group has. Now, it is not Ender's group versus Bernard's group, but they are all combined under Alai, and Alai can offer a certain amount of social protection to Ender. Alai is quickly chosen as the chief officer for their launch group. "Now others might believe that Ender had joined [Bernard's] group, but it wasn't so. Ender had joined a new group. Alai's group. Bernard had joined it too." At this stage in their training, Alai is the "commander" of their launch group, being more the kind of person who the raw recruits will stand behind. But Ender's leadership ability is developing, and he already is choosing to train with people when he can, rather than doing it alone. In zero gravity, one even needs a partner in order to do certain maneuvers. Ender is clearly the teachers' pick for commander of the International Fleet in the bugger war, and eventually the other students will realize that he also is their pick.

The "mind game" that is introduced in this chapter is another of the games bordering on reality. While it is just a game, Ender remains engrossed in and almost obsessed with it and the need to beat it. It is not clear that the game ever ends, however; the computer can always add new scenarios. The Giant's Drink, at least in Ender's case, is designed so that he only can win by breaking the rules--he has to refuse to drink the Giant's Drink but instead attack his eye. The first time Ender broke the rules in such a "game" was against Stilson, when he chose not to follow the "rules of combat" and kicked Stilson when he was down. We will see, later on, that whenever Ender grows desperate, he breaks the everyday rules in order to win. When he breaks those rules, he is taking himself out of the normal interpersonal relationships that the rules are designed to protect. In the final battleroom battle, Ender will choose to circumvent the game's rules by performing the victory ritual before actually winning the game by freezing the opponents; finally, he will destroy the buggers by shooting the Dr. Device at their homeworld, something no one expected him to do.

Ender continues to be a very fast and very able learner. His curiosity leads him to concentrate on solving puzzles, learning how to use new items and techniques, and watching others in order to learn from their mistakes and their successes. Ender seems to be able to succeed no matter how difficult the challenge, but readers should remember that the adults are carefully manipulating the challenges he faces so that he learns quickly without being broken. After all, he remains six years old.