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Ender's Game | Chapter 10 : Dragon | Summary

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Summary

After Colonel Graff and Anderson agree to it, Ender is promoted to commander at age nine-and-a-half. He will command Dragon Army, a new army with new rules. His whole army is his age or younger, and he immediately starts training them to think like he does: "The enemy's gate is down." One of the youngest is a small boy named Bean, who is arrogant but learns quickly. Ender finds himself treating Bean as Graff treated him years ago: making him the favorite student, isolating him but also putting pressure on him to live up to his new reputation. After practice, Bean confronts Ender. He doesn't like how Ender treats him, and he wants to be a toon leader. Ender says Bean can lead a toon when he has earned respect. Bean agrees.

Now Ender is only allowed to work with his own army, so there are no more nighttime practices with Alai. After practicing with his own soldiers, Ender drifts into the game room. Alai finds him there. Alai jokes about being on opposite sides, but Ender doesn't laugh. He says "Salaam" to Alai, but Alai responds regretfully, saying "Salaam" means "Peace be unto you," and peace no longer seems possible. Ender wonders if his friendship with Alai will survive. He refuses to cry, though. After the adults used Valentine to get to him, Ender vowed never to let them make him cry again.

Analysis

Ender is finally a commander, yet one of his first choices is to treat a soldier exactly the way Graff treated him—treatment he hated. This may be a testament to its effectiveness, or it may be a sign of how Ender has been damaged by his training. Despite this, Ender seems to be an instinctively good commander. Certainly he has learned from being commanded by Bonzo, Rose, Dink, and Petra, but he also has insight into what will make his soldiers better. This makes his choice with Bean even more interesting. Ender acknowledges how Graff's efforts to isolate him made him a better soldier. He also realizes he became "lonely, afraid, angry, untrusting ... maybe those traits, too, made him a better soldier." At the same time, he feels compassion for Bean, a compassion he thinks no one feels for him.

Bean is, in some ways, the next Ender. Despite the tension between Bean and Ender, the reader can already see how Bean thrives under a commander who challenges him. Bean is the first Dragon soldier to follow Ender's thought processes. "The enemy's gate is down" becomes a mantra for his army, and with good reason. In the battleroom students can navigate in any direction and many get confused. Ender reorients his thinking in much the same way he did on the first shuttle up to Battle School. He defines "down" as the location of the enemy's gate, where his army must go to win the battle. When all his soldiers think that way, they navigate together more cohesively.

The loss of time with Alai is a hard blow for Ender. Major Anderson presents a plausible argument against their meeting: How can a commander of an army practice with soldiers of other armies he will fight against? The separation also further isolates Ender. Ender grieves for the loss of his friend, and Card uses language even more vivid than Ender's grief on leaving Valentine, reflecting Ender's growing desperation. Ender's greatest fear is that Alai does not share his feelings, a fear familiar to almost any reader. Most of us have experienced a time when we worried someone doesn't care about us as much as we care about them. Ender has very normal feelings, but in his artificial and unhealthy environment, they are magnified. Ender sees himself and Alai as "infinitely apart, and what had been sure and unshakable was now fragile and insubstantial." He fears it can never be the same again.

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