Ender's Game: Novel Summary: Chapter 12 - Chapter 13
Summary of Chapter 12: Bonzo
General Pace visits Colonel Graff because the teacher Dap has filed a report about the dangerous situation in the school. He demands that Ender be protected, since he is their military hope for the future. Graff is angry at the interference and says he knows what he is doing. Pace reminds him there is a conspiracy among the students, especially in Bonzo’s group, to beat up Ender Wiggin, who has provoked Bonzo. Graff says he will do nothing about it because Ender will be in charge of a whole fleet one day, and he can take care of himself. He must never believe that adults will interfere. Ender knows Bonzo plans to kill him. Pace threatens to have Graff court-martialled if anything goes wrong.
Dragon Army has had a battle every day for four weeks. They are exhausted but proud and close. Petra stops Ender in the hallway and warns him some boys are trying to kill him. Dink sends him a message to never be alone. Ender’s toon leaders escort him everywhere. Ender believes the teachers will intervene. The battles get harder as the teachers make them more and more unfair, easier for the opponent and harder for Ender’s army. One day when he goes to the bathroom alone, he hears Bonzo and his boys come in. There are seven, including Bernard. Ender taunts Bonzo that he cannot defend his honor unless he agrees to single combat. Bonzo agrees.
Both have taken defense classes, and Bonzo is bigger, but Ender is superior in his strategy. He knows, as he did with Stilson, he has to win quickly and permanently so the others will leave him alone. Dink Meeker comes to the door and tries to stop the fight, pleading Ender is too important to hurt. This inflames Bonzo’s pride, so Ender tries to stop the fight by asking for mercy and showing he is afraid, in order to save Bonzo’s face. Bonzo is out of control and hits Ender, who knocks the other boy down and hurts him until he does not move. Dink leads Ender away. Ender begins to cry, saying he did not want to hurt Bonzo.
He gets a battle notice that now he must fight two armies at once. The battle is stacked in the enemy’s favor. Ender uses some surprise tactics to confuse the armies, then directly sends his soldiers to take the enemy’s door without further battle to end the game abruptly. Ender says he has once more beat Anderson, who comes out of the teacher door and denies he is the enemy. Ender says he will no longer play the game. All the boys understand his point that the teachers are manipulating the rules and shout Ender’s name in praise.
Bean tells Ender he has been transferred to Rabbit Army. Bean himself will be the new commander. Half the commanders have suddenly been graduated. Bonzo was sent home. Graff and Anderson come to tell Ender he is being transferred. He is going to Command School. Major Anderson has become a colonel and will run the Battle School, and Graff is being reassigned. On the shuttle Ender learns he is getting a short leave on Earth before going to Command School.
The chapter ends with a conversation between Colonel Anderson and Major Imbu who remain behind at the Battle School. They wonder if Graff has been arrested. General Pace was on the shuttle with Graff and Ender. Graff has to report to the Polemarch. There is a fourth person on the shuttle; the dead body of Bonzo is being sent home. They have the fight on video. It was not Ender’s fault. They did not tell him he killed Bonzo, just as they did not tell him he killed the boy Stilson.
Commentary on Chapter 12: Bonzo
It is clear to Ender after the fight with Bonzo that the teachers are the enemy. He thwarts Anderson by announcing he will play no more. He had thought the teachers would intervene to prevent violence, and it does look like Graff will get into trouble for not stopping the fight. Ender is full of remorse though he does not know he killed the boy. He claims Bonzo fought with honor by choosing single combat. He blames himself and keeps seeing Stilson’s face. He had thought he beat the mind game that suggested he was Peter, but now he feels it is confirmed. The Battle School that Ender knew is breaking up, and the hint from the officers is that Ender is being sent to Command School none too soon, for there seems to be some bugger threat on the horizon.
Bean is another double of Ender, a younger version, and Ender passes on his legacy to him. It is clear that contact with Ender has changed all the boys in the school and that perhaps it was part of Graff’s plan, not only to bring Ender to his full strategic potential in the games but also to his potential as a leader. The boys all shout as he stops the games and challenges the teachers in front of the soldiers. Ender is a hero and has once more made his enemies into allies and friends. One example is the transformation of the cynical Dink Meeker. Dink has finally accepted responsibility as a commander and believes in their mission to save the earth. He recognizes Ender as the best of them and goes beyond competition to team work and patriotism.
Summary of Chapter 13: Valentine
In a conversation implied to be between the Russian Polemarch, the commander-in-chief of the I. F., and the American Hegemon, the world ruler, they discuss the discovery that Locke and Demosthenes, the netwriters causing so much havoc in world opinion, are actually the other Wiggin children. They decide not to expose them at this time, though they have a lot of influence, because they are not being used by any outside group.
Valentine is making money and having fun as Demosthenes. Peter almost wants to kill her character because Val is getting out of control. Through their activity, Peter and Val uncovered the plot of the Warsaw Pact countries under Russia’s leadership preparing for civil war on Earth. Val becomes more and more like her character.
Graff waits for Valentine after school. He has an order signed by her parents allowing her to go with him to visit her brother on leave. Ender did not want to see her or any of his family, but Graff persuaded him. They will go to a lake and will talk on a raft made by Ender to have private conversation. Graff wants her to talk to her brother because Ender is not interested in going on with his education, but he is the hope of humanity in the coming wars. Graff admits he knows Valentine’s identity as Demosthenes, thus frightening her into complying.
Ender is now ten and Valentine, twelve. She encourages Ender to continue his studies. He explains how they keep changing the rules: “I never end up where I meant to go” (p. 236). He tells her what he learned from the bugger videos: only in the First Invasion did the buggers and humans fight in personal combat. They never show the battles from the Second Invasion, only dead bugger bodies. Ender is concerned that he knows nothing about the buggers themselves. He has always won because he understood the way the enemy thought. As soon as he understands the enemy enough to defeat him, “I also love him” (p. 238). His suffering is that the moment he loves them he has to destroy them.
Val tells Ender what she and Peter have been doing. Peter wants to be the Hegemon one day. Peter is cruel, but he will gain power eventually and may be a better alternative as a leader for Earth than having a civil war with the Russians. Ender, however, has no ambition. Valentine reminds him that when he was little and in trouble, she stuck her neck out to save him. Now he must do the same for all humanity. Ender says he only wants love. Val says she loves him.
On the way back to Ender’s training post with Graff, Ender realizes they brought him to nature and to his sister on his leave, so he could love the earth enough to fight for it. On the Inter-Planetary Launch station, Graff boards a tug bound for I. F. Command, secretly located on the planet Eros, three months away.
Ender quizzes Graff about the buggers. They might have evolved on earth as insects. They act like ants with a queen and a hive. They have no communication on their ships because they use instant telepathic communication. In response, humans built the ansible, an instant communicator between ships, so they can move faster. The buggers knew of their defeat the instant it happened and stopped fighting. The ansible allowed humans to invade the bugger worlds in the Second Invasion.
They are now in the Third Invasion. Starships have been going towards bugger worlds for the last seventy years to destroy them. They are almost there. The master ansible is at I. F. Command on Eros. They need a battle commander to organize the invasion. It will happen in the next five years. Ender says he cannot be ready. He decides they are probably destroying the buggers because the two races cannot communicate. Humans are not taking any chances. They are making a pre-emptive strike.
Commentary on Chapter 13: Valentine
Ender is caught between two sets of values, both of which seem valid to him. One is love. He wins against enemies because he has empathy and understands how they think. Unfortunately, complete understanding leads to love even while he must destroy. On the other hand, Val and Graff appeal to Ender’s heroism to defend his own. If Ender loves Valentine and the Earth, he must kill their enemies. Survival of the fittest, Graff reminds him, is coded into human genes. As a species they want to survive. They cannot communicate with the buggers to find out their intentions, so they have to kill them.
Ender admits, however, that what he most needs is love. When Val tempts him with power, he replies he does not want power; he wants his enemies to love him, like Peter, for instance. It is repeated in this chapter that all three children have the ability to destroy and to create in different proportions. Even the terrible Peter might be able to rule the Earth intelligently to avoid a civil war. Val is the only one who knows how to get to Ender to make him continue his training. She appeals to his heart. Ender decides, however, that if he goes back, it will be on his own terms. He does not believe in Graff’s show of friendship to him anymore.
Ender begins to learn about the enemy. Their main weapon is their telepathic communication, so they act as one body. Humans try to use this principle to defeat them, but the ansible is a mechanical device that links human ships; it cannot get inside the mind of the buggers. This becomes Ender’s quest now.