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Ender's Game | Chapter 4 : Launch | Summary

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Summary

The unidentified voices talk about Ender. They agree Ender needs to be isolated so "he remains creative," but they also want him to be a leader. One voice says, based on the video of Ender and Stilson, Ender is "not a sweet little kid." The other voice—possibly Colonel Graff—says Ender is "even sweeter than he looks" though he plans to "purge that (sic) in a hurry."

Ender and 19 other boys take the shuttle to Battle School. The boys are all disoriented by the lack of gravity, but Ender makes a mental adjustment so he can buckle himself into his seat. Graff reveals he is principal of Battle School and will travel with them. As Graff speaks to the boys, he singles out Ender for praise. Graff tells the other boys they will mostly end up as non-officers because they "don't have the brains" Ender has. When Graff stops speaking, the boys gang up on Ender: "When the officer prefers you, the others hate you." They start hitting him. Ender retaliates and breaks a boy's arm. Graff again praises Ender. When Ender complains the other boys hate him, Graff says he must be better than everyone else so they will respect him. Later, a teacher named Anderson asks Graff about Ender. Graff says Ender may be "the one." He admits he feels bad about Ender. He tries to justify it by saying Ender might save the world, but also admits, "For his sake, I hope it isn't him."

Analysis

Card bookends this chapter with Graff's conversations about Ender, both of which emphasize Ender's sweet nature. On some level Graff genuinely cares for Ender, but he believes this is what Ender needs to become the great commander humanity needs in order to survive. No child should be made to feel the world is against him or taught to believe no one will help him. Although Graff says he feels for Ender, his feelings are a secondary matter. Graff also specifies Ender will need to lead others. This is another reason Ender was selected rather than Peter. Peter might have Ender's tactical brilliance, but it is unlikely many people would choose to follow him in battle.

Ender's mental adjustments on the shuttle reveal exactly how unusual he is. In the book's Introduction, Card describes reading about flyers in World War I who had to adjust their thinking to account for maneuvers in multiple directions, rather than forward and back like ground troops. Ender instinctively makes the adjustment. Graff belittles the other boys in order to isolate Ender, but what he says about Ender is not hyperbole.

Ender's capacity for violence is an unexpected element in such a sweet-natured boy. He breaks a boy's arm and, in his own mind, Ender is honest about it: "He had meant to hurt him, and had pulled with all his strength." Yet he also feels guilty: "I am not Peter. No matter what Graff says." In the real world, a child with such dramatically different attitudes and behaviors would probably qualify for some intensive therapy. Instead, Graff aggravates the disparity, believing it will make a better soldier.

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