Ender's Game: Novel Summary: Chapter 8 - Chapter 9
Summary of Chapter 8: Rat
Colonel Graff and Major Anderson are clearly identified by name as the officers speaking. They argue over how Graff is changing the war games. Anderson says the games have always been fair before, and now Graff wants to make them unfair and impossible. Graff replies that is the way war is. They are betting that Ender will become the military commander by the time their ships reach the bugger worlds in a few years, but it is a tremendous risk, and Anderson feels that Graff is gambling on the fate of the world all by himself with the way he alone decides how to handle Ender. Anderson threatens to notify the authorities on earth about Graff’s strategy to cover himself in case of failure, but Graff convinces him to hold off.
The Rat Army, Ender’s next assignment, is led by a Jewish boy called Rose the Nose. His army is in second place, and he comments on Ender’s lead in the soldier efficiency standings. He lets Ender know that winning is the most important thing. Ender is put into Dink Meeker’s toon (platoon). Dink informs Ender that he asked specifically for him because he has been watching him in practice. Rose the Nose tells Ender to stop practicing with the Launchies and not to use his desk anymore because it is known he is a super programmer. Dink tells Ender to go ahead because Rose the Nose is not authorized to stop him.
Dink trains his soldiers independently from the Rat Army. The first thing Ender does is teach Dink and his toon about letting go of their ideas of gravity in the weightless battle room and going in feet first as an attack position. Dink makes the soldiers learn Ender’s strategies. Whatever Ender learns from Dink he teaches to Alai and the younger boys, but he begins to change the patterns. Petra and Dink come to watch him teach. Ender is drilling and training soldiers, the job of commanders and toon leaders.
Rose is angry that Ender is not following his orders, and in the next battle, Rose deliberately sends Ender in first in a sort of suicide mission, but Ender goes in fast and throws himself down toward the Centipede Army and freezes many of them as they emerge from their door. Rat Army wins, and Ender is first in the standings. Dink begins to use Ender’s trick in training sessions.
Dink tells Ender that he refuses to become a commander himself with his own army, though they keep trying to promote him. He says Ender has not yet seen that the other armies are not the enemy; the teachers are the enemy. The teachers make them into crazy killers. Dink does not believe there will be a war with the buggers; the I.F. uses the threat of buggers to stay in power, he says.
Some of the Launchies stay away from Ender’s practice sessions because the army commanders threaten to veto anyone trained by Ender, but many of the boys know they will get the best training from Ender and stay. Ender’s group is persecuted, but some loyal boys stay with him. The older boys decide to attack, and Ender successfully commands his group against them. Ender hurts four of his attackers until they bleed and are sent to the medical unit. The teachers cover for him and do not reprimand him. Ender is upset that the adults are letting this happen. He does not want to hurt anyone.
Ender plays the video game. When he gets to the castle, he kills the snake, but he finds a mirror, and when he looks into it, he sees Peter’s face. Ender refuses to believe the video game tells the truth about him, but it haunts his dreams. The next night, Ender has forty-five boys at his practice.
Commentary on Chapter 8: Rat
In this chapter, the tension escalates in the whole Battle School as Ender makes an impact on the war games. Dink is the third student to warn Ender that the teachers are not to be trusted. Dink even questions that there is an enemy out there, but Ender, though upset with the adults for not supervising and protecting the children, still believes he is fighting for the safety of his sister and others on earth. This is what Graff had told him, appealing to his altruistic nature. This heroic motivation is contrasted to what little Ender is becoming—a violent killer. He continues to hurt people without intention, and the computer game shows him Peter’s face in the mirror. So far he hangs on to his belief in himself as a good person. He is not a bully like Peter, Stilson, and Bonzo,. He knows a commander should not be a bully.
As the stakes are getting higher, Ender has the ability of a true commander to bring together the best people and to unify them into an intelligent unit. Each situation brings him one more loyal friend, and this time it is Dink Meeker, a Dutch boy who could be a commander but refuses to be taken over by the agenda of the teachers. He likes the war game, but he sees it as a game, not as real combat. Dink shows Ender an alternative position in the school, for Dink is not a loser, yet he does not participate the way the teachers want him to. He has carved out an independent niche for himself. Furthermore, Dink has the quality of a true leader in that he not only teaches Ender but also is willing to be taught by him.
This chapter also widens the perspective on earth politics. Graff and Anderson argue about their policies and whether they will get into trouble with the rulers on earth named the Strategos, the Hegemon, and the Polemarch, words borrowed from ancient Greece. Graff seems to be a buddy with the Polemarch, the commander-in-chief of the I. F. fleet, while Anderson has to answer to the Strategoi, the generals, and to the Hegemon, the ruler of earth.
Dink Meeker, as a Dutch boy, has a different view of the world than Ender, an American boy whose countrymen now control the world. Dink points out that the bugger menace keeps the world united under I. F. military control, but when the people realize there is no enemy, there will be civil war on earth. Dink says in that civil war he and Ender will no longer be friends, because Ender is an American like the teachers. Ender reflects that the Netherlands has been under Russian control, so Dink’s view is biased. He knows that “lies could not last long in America” (p. 111). Card is writing this story during the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union (1946-1991), and he makes the Russians and Americans still enemies underneath the apparent unity of a futuristic world government. Ender is able to unite diverse people, another sign of his leadership. He desperately hangs on to his belief in himself as he becomes more ruthless, though he hates how he must change to become a tool for the I. F.
Summary of Chapter 9: Locke and Demosthenes
Graff asks Major Imbu, apparently a psychologist who knows the computer mind games, how it was possible for the computer to insert a photo of Ender’s brother into the computer game of Fairyland. Imbu does not know how “The End of the World” got included in the game. Graff is alarmed at the computer messing with Ender’s mind because Peter and Valentine are the most important people in Ender’s life. Imbu says the computer and the mind of the player create stories together, so for Ender, they are true stories.
Valentine celebrates Ender’s eighth birthday by herself in the yard of her house in Greensboro, North Carolina. She makes a little fire, hoping the smoke will reach him in space. Her letters have probably not reached him because he has never replied. The fact that the family has moved to North Carolina means they think of Ender as dead. It also means that the Wiggin parents hoped nature would soften their son Peter. Instead, he tortures animals in the woods. In school he is a model student. Everyone but Valentine believes he has changed.
Peter decides Valentine is going to help him with his project. He has been tracking troop movements in Russia and concludes the Russians are getting ready for war. The two genius children are good at sifting out information from the news. The Polemarch is Russian and must know the bugger wars are almost over. When they are, the Russians will attack the North American hegemony after the war. These are internal operations underlying “the façade of peace and cooperation” (p. 126). Peter has uncovered a change in the world order and uses it to his advantage.
Peter convinces Valentine to join him in secretly writing for the nets to sway public opinion. Though he is twelve and she is ten, they will use pseudonyms and get their father to help them sign into the citizen’s access for public forums. Peter manipulates Val into helping him. He wants to rule the world as Hegemon, and he needs to start shaping world opinion so the world will not break into a civil war.
The brother and sister call themselves “Locke” and “Demosthenes” and begin to join in the debates. They consciously construct their characters and seem to be rivals as they become skilled political commentators, taking opposite stances. Peter is satisfied they are “helping set the agenda” (p. 135). Demosthenes gets an offer to do a column in a newsnet. Peter tells Val what to say, but she does not like this. She pretends to be anti-Russian, while Locke pretends to be moderate. Thus, they become the opposite of their true personalities with Val, the warmonger, and Peter, the voice of reason. Peter convinces Val her job is not to say what she thinks, but to stir up anger, so his moderate position will win out. Val is upset when their father likes Demosthenes.
Meanwhile, Ender has become a toon leader in Phoenix Army with Petra Arkanian as the commander. He still teaches evening sessions to an elite group. Alai is a toon leader in another army, but he is still Ender’s friend. Dink has finally become commander of Rat Army. Ender hates his life, even with success. The others laugh together as comrades, but he is lonely at the top.
He plays the fantasy game, though he does not understand how the game works. It used to be puzzles to solve, but now, he finds the snake, kills it, sees his brother in the mirror, and then dies. Ender feels “trapped at the End of the World” (p. 141).
The I. F. Marines find Valentine in school. Colonel Graff has come for Ender’s sake. He tells her about the computer game where Ender is stuck and asks her advice. She explains how Ender is afraid of Peter and how Peter can psychologically torture people. Peter turns everyone to his own use, except, she claims, he could never turn Ender, because Ender is good.
Valentine sends Ender a letter. She tells him he is not like Peter. He knows she was put up to it, and he realizes he has no control over his life. He decides to play no more for the military, and in the computer game he kisses the snake called Death. The snake turns into Valentine who leads him out of the room and away from the End of the World. Valentine is given a citizen award by the military for helping her brother Ender, but she knows, “I sold my brother” (p. 153).
Commentary on Chapter 9: Locke and Demosthenes
Ender seems to be the hope of the world, but his brother Peter is determined to take over the world while Ender is gone to stop the impending civil war. He manipulates Valentine to help him as she had once helped Ender. Val feels used by Peter, but she lets herself be, because she also enjoys power. The two sway world opinion on the nets (like blogs today), by playing their roles as opposite stands.
Val keeps saying that Ender and Peter are opposites, but Ender keeps finding Peter in himself when he becomes violent. Val also finds a bit of Peter in herself: “There was more Peter in her than she could bear to admit” (p. 128). Peter finds what other people hate about themselves and uses that to manipulate them; Val finds what other people like about themselves and flatters them.
Both Val and Peter love the power of swaying public opinion as though they are adults. Peter names Val “Demosthenes” because she is a good writer and very persuasive. Demosthenes (384-322 BCE) was a Greek statesman and orator, a patriot who tried to rouse his city of Athens against the foreign invader, Alexander the Great. Peter uses this character to spout conservative patriotism. On the other hand, Peter calls himself Locke after the English philosopher, John Locke (1632-1704), the liberal who influenced the American Revolution. He tries to sound rational like the eighteenth-century Enlightenment thinkers. This is an important chapter linking the three Wiggin children together as world figures. Peter is a political genius. Ender is a heroic genius. Val is a genius at persuasion. Ender continues to try to make moral choices, even when he finds bad in himself.