Ender's Game | Study Guide

Orson Scott Card

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Ender's Game | Chapter 8 : Rat | Summary

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Summary

Colonel Graff and another officer, Major Anderson, discuss the games. Graff has ordered Anderson to create more challenging, unfair games to prepare Ender for battle, even if it damages other soldiers. Ender has to be ready to command by the time their fleet arrives "at the bugger homeworlds." Anderson threatens to report Graff, and Graff says politicians make his life more difficult. Anderson says Graff does that to Ender, and Graff responds, "Ender Wiggin is ten times smarter and stronger than I am." Anderson agrees not to complain about Graff's tactics—for now.

Ender is now in Rat Army, led by Rose the Nose, who is aggressively proud of his Jewish heritage. Jewish military leaders are admired and there is a myth that a Jewish general will not lose. Rose's army faces anti-Semitism because of his leadership, but Rose is aware of the historical precedent: An American Jewish president, an Israeli Jewish commander of International Force defenses, and a Russian Jewish leader of the fleet all worked together during the Second Invasion. However, it was Mazer Rackham, a half-Maori New Zealander with a bad reputation, who defeated the buggers.

Rose doesn't like Ender either, but he assigns Ender to Dink Meeker's toon (platoon). Ender learns Dink asked for him. Bonzo lied about Ender's skills, so Rose punishes Ender by sending him into the next battle first—and alone. Using techniques he developed with Alai, Ender freezes several opponents before he is fully frozen himself. Dink adopts Ender's new technique, and it spreads through all the armies.

Dink is an excellent toon leader but has refused to be a commander. He thinks the buggers are no longer a threat, but IF is using them to control people on Earth. Ender doesn't agree, but Dink's comments do make him more suspicious of what adults tell him. Dink also warns Ender both Rose and Bonzo hate him.

Older students start threatening Launchies to keep them from practicing with Ender at night. Ender offers to cancel practice, but Alai encourages him to keep going. One night older boys, including Bonzo, attack them at practice. Ender and his team use their tactics, but Ender gets separated from his squad. He is surrounded and injures some of the older boys in self-defense. Later Ender notices the fight injuries are listed as "accidental" and wonders if the teachers intend to interfere at all. Some student commanders send word to Ender: they like his nighttime practices. They send bigger, older boys to study with him and to provide backup if people harass him again.

He revisits the room with the snake in the Giant's Drink game. He kills the snake and looks for a way out. Instead, he finds a mirror with Peter's face in it "and a snake's tail coming from the mouth." Ender shouts in shock. He throws the snake at the mirror, which breaks, revealing many smaller snakes who bite his character to death. Ender is terrified he is a killer, maybe worse than Peter. He feels he deserves the death his character faced in the game.

Analysis

Considering the repeated emphasis on the banning of religion, Card's discussion of Jewish leadership is unexpected. In Ender's universe Jewish leaders are famously successful, and Card introduces several Jewish leaders in high positions of power and leadership. Rose feels pressure because of his heritage. Anti-Semitism is unfortunately also present in Ender's universe. Rose's army is called Rat Army, which may trouble some readers, considering how anti-Semitic propaganda during World War II often compared Jewish people to rats. However, this choice of name could also be understood as Card subverting the anti-Semitic rhetoric and propaganda the Nazis promulgated in World War II.

While Rose is no great leader, Ender can learn from Dink. Dink drills his toon frequently and tries new approaches to battle, but he can't keep up with Ender's ideas. When he asks Ender to demonstrate new techniques, Ender realizes "He had seen what Ender was doing, but he had not understood" Ender's reasons for doing it. Dink also provides a cautionary voice, warning Ender about the adults. Ender sees Dink's attitude as alarmist, but it provides cautionary advice: adults cannot be trusted. Dink is foreshadowing. He won't be the only person who wonders why the buggers haven't attacked again.

Dink's skepticism about the bugger threat reminds readers how young Ender is. Despite his strategic intelligence, he is still only a child and has little understanding of history or adults' capacity for subterfuge. This will change, but not until the novel's final revelations.

Ender continues having his nighttime practices with Launchies, experimenting with new, "stupid" ideas, some of which work well for Dink's toon in battle. Alai is the only person so far who can keep up with Ender, but even he acknowledges Ender's superiority. Ender's ability to train troops is unexpectedly demonstrated when the bigger boys attack them. Once again Ender is rather disturbingly effective at responding with violence. Just as Dink warned him, the teachers stay uninvolved. They do not break up the fight and they do not punish anyone for it, listing the injuries Ender causes as "accidental."

In Giant's Drink, Ender is beyond the "End of the World" when he is confronted by an image of Peter. To Ender, Peter is a symbol of everything he most hates in himself. Card repeatedly uses Peter to represent Ender's darker, violent side, much like Dr. Jekyll's evil alter ego, Mr. Hyde. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, a novella by the Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson, tells the story of Dr. Jekyll, who invents a potion to separate his good from his bad impulses. His bad impulses, including violent tendencies, are expressed as Mr. Hyde, while his good impulses are part of Dr. Jekyll. Similarly, Peter and Ender may be interpreted as two versions of the same person. Peter's violence is more obvious and less controlled, but Ender has the same capacity for violence. The game makes him face his fear "that he was (sic) a killer, only better at it than Peter," which is why he is successful at Battle School.

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