Anderson admits to Graff that all the colonel’s plans have worked; Ender has been content since receiving Valentine’s letter. However, this is not to be so for much longer. It is now time to make Ender a commander and see how he handles the rigged scenarios that they have been designing to make the battles even more difficult for him.
Ender is shown to the quarters he will now have, as commander of the Dragon Army, a name that was discontinued after past Dragon Armies consistently lost. Ender is also given his own hook, which is a device that allows commanders to move about as they wish in the zero gravity of the practice rooms. Although he had thought this device would come in handy previously, he now realizes that he does not need it because, unlike the other commanders that have become dependent on it, Ender’s practices have enabled him to control his movements with ease even without it.
Although this could conceivably give him an edge, he soon learns that his army will not. Looking around the barracks, he can tell many of his soldiers are from Launch groups, with no experience at all. The veterans that he has been given are those soldiers who had unremarkable performances and no leadership experience in their previous armies. Ender is not allowed to trade any of them, but must train them, and just learn to deal with the difficult ones.
Ender starts off as commander by having all the newest boys take bunks at the front of the room and then had them go to practice, despite that some of them were not done getting dressed. Once they were outside the battleroom, they were able to finish clothing themselves, while others ran exercises. Then they all went through the door that opened into the middle of the room, propelling themselves across the room using the handholds. When Ender saw that one kid was too small to be able to reach the handholds on the ceiling, he tells him he can use the side ones, but the kid refuses with an attitude.
Once they are all lined up on the far wall, Ender corrects their orientation. “Down” is not the same as it was in the corridor, but rather the direction of the enemy’s gate. As he has them practice this change in view, Ender figures out who is picking up on things and who is not. Bean, the boy who did not use the side handholds, is the quickest learner. Though he maintains his rebellious attitude, it is he who is able to apply the new orientation and understand the implications of being frozen. Ender demonstrates the latter by freezing both still and moving soldiers. The theory is that if a soldier is moving when he gets shot and frozen, his continued trajectory works to get in the way of the enemy, instead of blocking his own army’s movement.
Ender also shows his army how keeping their feet toward the enemy and, when at a distance, spinning, can make it more difficult for an enemy to freeze them. He has them practice these techniques, with the added difficulties of learning how to manage bumping into each other and doing multiple things at once.
Throughout the practice, Ender picks Bean out to answer questions, singling him out as the only one who knows what he is doing. Afterwards, while Ender is thinking about how quickly he will need to have his new army trained, Bean confronts him. Ender tells him that he is helping Bean earn the other boys’ respect. But, convinced that he can be the best, Bean wants to be a toon leader, which Ender promises him as soon as Bean proves he knows what he is doing and others will follow him. When Bean says that if Ender sticks to that promise, he will be a toon leader in a month, Ender pushes him into a wall, annoyed that what he said has been questioned.
Thinking about it later, Ender regrets bullying Bean, both physically and mentally. However, it also makes him come to the realization that Graff had done the same thing to him, and that it had made him a better soldier than he would have been otherwise. Ender privately makes a promise that he will watch Bean and be his friend, a very similar promise to the one that Graff made about Ender, although Ender does not know it.
The rules are once again changed so that now only those in the same army can practice together in the battlerooms, even during freetime. This effectively ends Ender’s open practice sessions, to be replaced by each army now holding their own. Anderson tells him he must learn to get by without Alai and Shen, and, despite having a good practice session with his own army during their allotted time in the battleroom, Ender misses Alai and the others.
Afterwards, while Ender is in the gameroom, Alai comes over and the two joke around about beating each other in battle. With the realization that such a thing could, and probably will, occur, Alai tells Ender that “salaam”-which he explains means peace-was not meant to be. Alai leaves, but Ender still keeps the memory of when Alai first spoke salaam and kissed him. Although he fears that his friend has parted with him for good, that things will never be the same between them, he will not cry. Since he read Valentine’s letter and the memory of her was tarnished, he will not let anything affect him so deeply. And he is set on defeating his enemy, the teachers.
As mentioned previously, Ender’s army is associated with fire, showing a connection between the Salamander and Phoenix armies, both of which he served in previously. One also cannot overlook the fact that Ender saw a dragon in the mirror in the tower room. Because dragons as mythological creatures have a wide range of attributes associated with them-cunning, danger, even good luck-it is hard to pick just one aspect that shows its connection with Ender. Instead, the dragon was probably picked as a symbol for Ender because of its complex nature; it can capture both Ender’s intelligence and violence. Additionally, there is an old weapon called a dragon, so the name also reflects Ender’s involvement in battles.
Cite this page:
McCauley, Kelly. "TheBestNotes on Ender's Game".
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