Ender's Game | Study Guide

Orson Scott Card

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Ender's Game | Chapter 6 : The Giant's Drink | Summary

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Summary

Two unidentified voices discuss Ender again. One is concerned because he is "stuck at the Giant's Drink in the mind game." The other voice is more worried about Ender's launch group because Ender is "poisoning that group." One voice—apparently Colonel Graff—takes responsibility for the problems, and Ender stays with his launch group for now.

Ender and his group enter the battleroom, which has no gravity. Ender experiments with the lack of gravity and with his suit. He figures out how to use the suit faster than the others. Bernard and his friend Alai are the next to experiment. Ender notices Bernard tenses up when he is flying, but Alai doesn't. Soon all of them are experimenting. Ender almost crashes into Alai, but Alai saves him. They work together, trying out new ways of moving in the suits and figuring out how to use their guns to "freeze" each other. They team up with Bernard and Shen and freeze everyone else in their launch group. Alai and Ender become friends, and Alai, their first launch leader, forms a bridge between Bernard's group and Ender's group.

In free play Ender keeps playing a game called Giant's Drink. The Giant gives him a choice of two drinks, but whichever he picks, the drink will kill him. Ender gets angry because he can never beat the Giant although he doesn't know if the game even continues after that point. Finally he attacks the Giant's eye and kills him. He climbs past the giant's body and meets a bat who asks Ender how he got there because "Nobody ever comes here." The next game section is called Fairyland, but Ender signs out of the game. He regrets killing the Giant and again compares himself to his brother Peter: "I'm a murderer, even when I play. Peter would be proud of me."

Analysis

Alai is Ender's first real friend and Ender's equal—or close to it—when it comes to figuring things out. Ender needs someone who can keep up with him, and Alai can, at least for now. The two of them bond over their desire to figure things out. Alai lets Ender know they can be friends, saying, "I'm not Bernard, I never tortured cats for fun." For Ender, strategy is important. He doesn't worry what anyone thinks of him, including Bernard. He's happy to let Bernard believe he has joined Bernard's group. Ender knows it isn't Bernard's group, but it is strategically useful for Bernard to believe it is. Alai becomes the leader of their launch group by "almost unanimous" vote. Ender sees it as a positive step. After all, he would never become launch leader of a group with Bernard in it. But with Alai as leader, the two factions of their launch squad can be united.

For the first time Card introduces Giant's Drink, as this section of the game will continue to be called for the rest of the novel. From the adult conversation at the start of the chapter, the reader learns one student who obsessed over Giant's Drink later killed himself. Ender also demonstrates an inability to leave the Giant's Drink alone, even though he calls it "dumb" and "stupid." In fact, Ender recognizes Giant's Drink as an unwinnable situation. The no-win situation is actually used in some real-world training scenarios, such as preparing first responders to react in emergencies. It is also a well-established trope in popular culture and fiction, such as the Star Trek Kobayashi Maru scenario. In the Star Trek universe, the Kobayashi Maru was an unwinnable simulation at Star Fleet Academy, one Captain Kirk beat by reprogramming the computers. Ender takes a similarly novel approach to defeating the giant. The point of a no-win situation, arguably, is to push students to think creatively under pressure. Ideally, the situation only appears to be unwinnable, as in this case, where no one ever thought to attack the Giant. Even the game seems surprised by his victory. Ender can be ruthless. He wanted to defeat the Giant, and he did it, but the victory leaves him shaken and uninterested in playing further. Card may be foreshadowing Ender's future. If he leads the IF to victory, what will be left of Ender when the battle is over?

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