Ender's Game: Novel Summary: Chapter 2 - Chapter 3
Summary of Chapter 2: Peter
The officers (Graff and Anderson) continue to discuss the situation, especially concerning how Ender beat up Stilson. Graff brings up that Ender beat the other boy the way Mazer Rackham would have. Anderson asks if Ender passes then. Graff wants to continue to watch him with his brother now the monitor is off, though they know the brother is dangerous. Anderson says he likes Ender and is afraid they are going to mess him up. Graff admits that messing up kids is their job.
Valentine tries to smooth things over between the brothers saying to Peter that now they are all alike, without monitors, and having failed the test. She hopes Peter will leave Ender alone. Peter is not placated and insists they play “buggers and astronauts.” Valentine looks for their mother or father, but they are out. Peter makes Ender be a bugger, the enemy. Ender knows it is not a game and wonders if he will survive. As he puts on the mask, he tries to feel how it is to be a bugger. He calls Peter a “slimy” (p. 11) imagining buggers would think humans felt soft and oily. Peter starts hitting him. Ender begs Peter to stop. Peter says he could kill Ender and make it look like an accident. Valentine says she would tell the truth. He threatens to kill her too.
Valentine talks Peter out of his intent by reminding him he won’t kill anyone because he wants to be in government someday. She blackmails him by saying she has put a secret letter in her file to be opened in the case of her death. Then Peter starts laughing and pretending it was a joke. Ender wishes it had been Peter instead of Stilson that he beat up.
When the parents come home, they believe that Ender failed in the test, and now they have three children, with no explanation. As Ender lies in his bed that night, Peter whispers to him that he is sorry and that he loves him. Ender cries.
Commentary on Chapter 2: Peter
This in-depth view of Peter as a child shows why the military probably does not want him. He is unpredictable. He taunts Valentine and Ender that they do not really know if he will kill them or not. He is playing “a game” with them and can make them “dance around like puppets” (p. 14). Both of them know he is capable of murder, but adults see him as only a handsome boy.
Ender’s vulnerability is highlighted. He may beat other children, but at home, he is a victim. Ender shows Peter his shoe with Stilson’s blood on it, but Peter is not afraid of his siblings. Peter is dangerous because he seems able to control his cruelty in a rational manner, showing he is a sociopath, rather than an impulsive killer. He is a dictator after power and constantly compared to Alexander the Great. Valentine predicts that Peter will not create trouble now because he wants to be in government someday. This is all foreshadowing of action to come and the relationship of the characters as they grow up. Valentine knows both brothers intimately and has a key position between them.
Another foreshadowing has to do with Ender’s putting on the bugger mask and playing at being the enemy. He begins to think like they do, which will be part of his training. His empathy is actually a plus instead of a drawback as Major Anderson fears. He can see other viewpoints with real understanding.
Summary of Chapter 3: Graff
Graff and Anderson discuss the relationship of Ender to his sister Valentine. She is “the weak link” because Ender loves her and will not want to leave her (p. 16). Graff says first he will lie to Ender to get him to come away, and if that does not work, he will tell him the truth.
At breakfast, Ender worries about going to school because of the fight with Stilson. The doorbell rings, and it is a man wearing the military uniform of the I. F., the International Fleet. Peter hopes they have come for him, but the man wants to talk to Ender. Mother and Father scold Ender for beating Stilson; he is in the hospital. Ender thinks he is going to be punished, but he is resigned to it. He explains to the officer that he kept kicking Stilson so they would all leave him alone. He cries that it was in self-defense.
Graff introduces himself to Ender and asks him to enter training at the Battle School in the Space Belt, which he directs. Ender is being drafted since he was promised to the government since birth, yet Graff appears to give Ender a choice, since he would be an officer. Battle School is to train future starship captains and admirals. Ender does not want to leave his parents and Valentine, and he does not like to fight. Graff decides to speak to him alone.
Graff tells him the truth. He will not see his family since training lasts until he is sixteen.
He explains that the parents will not miss him too much since it was a sacrifice for them. Having a Third is shameful, and they cannot assimilate into normal society with him. Graff makes Ender feel guilty: “Your presence in this house is a constant disruption” (p. 23). He tells Ender how hard Battle School will be. He will be training through battle games, and the future of the human race depends on how well he will do. He would be happier at home, but humanity needs him. What saved them eighty years before in the last war, was the brilliant hero, Mazer Rackham. He remembers seeing the films of Rackham fighting the buggers. He says he is afraid but will go. He says good by to his family and takes Graff’s hand. Valentine shouts, “I love you forever” (p. 26).
Commentary on Chapter 3: Graff
Graff says he will lie or tell the truth to Ender, whichever he needs to do, showing that he feels the military purpose is more important than an individual life. He appears to tell Ender the hard truth of things, but there is no way to tell at this point. He does manipulate Ender by making him feel guilty for his birth as a Third, bringing shame to his family.
Graff tells Ender the hidden history of his own family. Both of Ender’s parents were religious; the father, a Catholic from a family of nine children, and his mother was a Mormon. His father secretly baptized Ender, Val, and Peter, but in order to get on in the world, Ender’s father had to renounce his religion and his Polish ancestry because Poland is a “noncompliant nation, and under international sanction” (p. 22). The word “noncompliant” tells us that having more than two children is illegal on earth at this time, and because Poland wants to remain Catholic and have as many children as possible, they are under sanction by the rest of the world. The author gives us bits of earth history in various chapters, enough to show that the whole world has been reorganized for preservation. Humans have taken action against overpopulation, and they are preparing their defense for another invasion of aliens. They barely won against the buggers last time because of the brilliant tactics of Mazer Rackham, and they think Ender could be another like him.
Graff has been monitoring the children’s brains for a long time and knows all about their traits but admits the tests “don’t tell us everything” (p. 24). Peter was too aggressive and Valentine was too mild, and Ender is believed to be “half Peter and half Valentine” (p. 24). Graff deliberately tests Ender by asking him why he kept kicking Stilson when he was down. Ender passes the test because he cries and is sorry. Ender is constantly afraid of becoming Peter, but Graff seems to think there is enough of a distinction to show Ender is the right person for the job. This makes the reader wonder what they are looking for in a leader, since one would expect Peter’s brutality without conscience would be perfect in a war situation.
Graff tells him the truth about one thing. Life as a soldier will be hard and not as happy as staying home, but he is doing it for the whole human race. The fact that six-year-old Ender is finally persuaded through patriotism shows that he is self-sacrificing and not at all like Peter, who only wants power and is never sorry for hurting others.