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Ender's Game | Chapter 11 : Veni Vidi Vici | Summary

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Summary

Colonel Graff and Major Anderson discuss putting Ender's Dragon Army into battles with less than a month of practice. Graff wonders if they are pushing Ender too hard. He mentions discussions "on the nets" about using the IF on Earth and wonders aloud, "Are we absolutely sure that we ought to win this war?" When Anderson challenges him, Graff says he was only joking.

Ender has created an army with five toons instead of four. He created assistant toon leaders so they can break into smaller groups. He avoids formations and encourages "toon leaders to use ... small units effectively in achieving limited goals ... on their own initiative." They are eager for their first battle and win easily. His next battle, with Petra's army, is more difficult, but he still wins. His army fights a battle a day and never loses. Other commanders resent Ender. People trip him and throw spitballs at him, but no one can beat him in battle. He knows he has to keep it up, so he begins studying "vids" of the bugger wars, watching how the buggers fight and learning from them.

Graff and Anderson summon Ender to report on his army, then immediately give him another battle. It's the second battle in a day, and it's against Bonzo's army. Bonzo knew in advance and set his army up inside the battle room, but Ender's army was unprepared. Thanks to Ender's quick thinking they defeat Bonzo, although they experience heavy losses. Angry at the adults because of the unfair battle, Ender refuses to attend the end-of-battle ceremony to receive Bonzo's formal surrender. Later he realizes Bonzo will have felt insulted by this and want revenge.

Ender summons Bean to see him. Ender admits he is tired and worries he will not be able to think of enough new ideas to keep ahead of the other armies. Bean is honored Ender confides in him. Ender asks Bean to create his own special small toon to try out new, crazy maneuvers: "things that no one has ever tried because they're absolutely stupid." Ender says Bean's small team will not always be used, but they will be available when Ender needs them. Bean is pleased.

Analysis

Graff's conversation prepares the reader for Dragon's rapid series of battles, but Card cleverly uses an offhand remark by Graff to demonstrate the power Peter and Valentine are already beginning to wield. Graff says conversations "on the nets" about the Warsaw Pact are causing trouble and he wonders about the "stupidity of the rest of mankind," which seems to be rushing toward war. It shows how quickly Peter and Valentine's postings have begun reaching a large audience: even Graff, stationed in outer space, has heard about them.

It is interesting that Card foresaw the uses of computer and Internet technology but did not foresee the fall of the Soviet Union. On Graff's Earth, the Warsaw Pact—the post–World War II alliance among the Soviet Union and its satellite countries—is a continuing threat. In reality this alliance ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union, its strongest member. The Warsaw Pact was formally dissolved on July 1, 1991.

Ender's army is intentionally different than any other. He practices what the US military describes as maneuver warfare. Maneuver warfare is designed to make opposing forces ineffective by confusing them. It may include the use of dramatic actions to draw attention to certain parts of the battle but also means avoiding the enemy's areas of strength and moving against weaker areas. Ender has studied military strategy, but most of his ideas seem to flow organically from his brain. He also learns from the buggers, who use their own form of maneuver warfare. When Ender studies the videos of the last bugger war, he notes "how well the buggers used seemingly random flight paths to create confusion." He identifies their key strategy as "gather the greatest number of ships at the key point of conflict," another maneuver warfare strategy.

At the end of the battle with Bonzo, Ender is understandably frustrated. He must be exhausted, and the adults are not playing fair. His reaction reminds the reader how young Ender really is. Even an adult would be frustrated by what Ender has faced, but how much more frustrating to be a child and feel the adults around you are trying to make you fail? For one moment, Ender reacts as a child would, and it will cost him. Bonzo has always hated him, but now he has made Bonzo look foolish in public. Ender was not trying to insult Bonzo—he was angry at the adults—but Bonzo will take it as an insult. Ender realizes his mistake, but it is already too late.

If Ender knew at this point what he learns after fighting the buggers, he would realize war is not fair and there are no rules limiting the number of battles to one per day. By making his army fight a second time and enter an ambush, the adults have posed a realistic battle scenario. And Ender and his army were ready for it.

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