Two unnamed people argue with each other. The first says that someone—a person called only “he”—will help them save the world. The second speaker disagrees, saying that he is weak, too willing to do what others want. Eventually the second speaker gives in; the first speaker can do what he wants.
Andrew “Ender” Wiggin is in the doctor’s office. A woman says she is going to take a monitor out of the back of his neck. Ender hopes that once the monitor is gone, his brother, Peter, will stop hating him. Peter will still bully Ender but will stop being jealous that Ender kept the monitor longer than he did.
The doctor does something that causes Ender extreme pain. Ender thrashes and falls off the examining table, then finds he cannot remember how to speak. The doctor is disgusted that the monitor stayed in Ender’s neck for three years, a period of time that is normally considered much too long. The doctor says the removal could have killed Ender.
Ender goes to school. In the classroom, the girl behind him quickly notices that his monitor is missing. Ender receives a message on his electronic desk. It says, “Third.” This is an insult because Ender is the third child in his family. Families are only allowed to have two children. Even though the government specifically authorized Ender’s birth, the kids in Ender’s class treat him as a freak.
When school is over, Ender waits in his classroom. He knows bullies will be waiting to taunt him and possibly hurt him now that the monitor no longer records everything he sees and hears. This prediction is correct. A boy from his class, Stilson, is waiting with several friends. A couple of kids grab Ender and hold him. Ender does not panic. Instead he laughs. “You mean it takes this many of you to fight one Third?” he asks.
The kids let go so that Ender and Stilson can to fight one to one. Ender kicks out, and Stilson falls. Ender knows that the other kids will continue to bully him if he does not scare them now. Although he knows it is cruel, Ender kicks Stilson several more times while Stilson is on the ground. Ender tells the other kids he will do worse to them if they come after him.
After he wins the fight, Ender hides alone and cries. He thinks, “I am just like Peter.”
A speaker says he needs to see what Ender will do to his brother now that the monitor is off. A second speaker worries that Peter will hurt Ender. “We’re going to screw him up,” this second voice says. The first speaker does not argue; he merely says that screwing Ender up is his job.
Ender arrives at home. His sister, Valentine, says she is sorry his monitor was removed. Peter, however, is angry. Peter only kept his own monitor until he was five, and Valentine had hers removed at three. It infuriates Peter that Ender was monitored until the age of six. “He almost made it, little bastard, little bugger,” Peter says.
Peter demands that Ender play buggers and astronauts with him. Peter claims the role of astronaut and tells Ender to be the bugger, a member of the alien race that once attacked Earth. Ender agrees even though the bugger in this game always gets hurt.
Ender puts on a mask that makes him look like a bugger. Peter hits Ender, knocks him over, and kneels on his chest. Ender knows that Peter may want to kill him. Peter claims he will do exactly that so their family will no longer be shamed by having three children.
Valentine comes to Ender’s rescue, saying that she will tell on Peter if he kills Ender. Peter threatens to kill her too, but Valentine has already planned for that eventuality. She has a secret letter on file at the public library saying Peter is a murderer. Peter lets Ender up, laughing and claiming it was all a joke. Ender shows off Stilson’s blood on his shoe, hoping to scare Peter, but Peter is unimpressed.
When Ender’s father sees that the monitor is gone, he acts thrilled. He exclaims at how lucky his family is to have three children and to be allowed to keep all of them. Ender thinks these words are not true. He knows it would be less inconvenient and less embarrassing for his parents if they only had the normally allotted number of kids. Ender is sorry for his parents’ sake that the government took out the monitor and did not take him away.
That night Peter comes to stand over Ender’s bed. Ender looks for a weapon in Peter’s hand but does not see one. Peter whispers that he is sorry and then climbs into his own bed. Ender cries himself to sleep.
Two voices discuss Ender’s sister. One says Valentine is a problem because Ender loves her and may not want to leave her behind. The other speaker seems confident that Ender can be tricked into leaving home. If tricks do not work, the second speaker says, it is always possible to tell Ender the truth.
At breakfast, Ender cannot eat. He worries about facing Stilson and Stilson’s friends at school. Around him, his family bickers good-naturedly. Suddenly the table beeps, signaling that someone is at the door.
Ender’s father checks the door’s video surveillance and sees a member of the International Fleet waiting...
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A voice, presumably that of Colonel Graff, explains that Ender must be isolated from his peers. This will force him to excel and lead. Graff promises to separate Ender from the rest of the boys by the time he arrives at school. A second voice muses that Graff seems to enjoy breaking kids down. Graff does not quite agree, but he says that the kids are better people by the time they put themselves back together again.
Ender lines up with a group of boys to board the shuttle to Battle School. The other boys talk and laugh amongst themselves, but Ender does not join in. He sees adults watching everything the boys do, and he knows they...
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Colonel Graff claims it was an accident that Ender broke another child’s arm in the shuttle. Graff thought Ender would ask for help. The other man says it is good that Ender relies on himself. When Ender fights the buggers, he will not be able to call for help. Graff and the other man agree that Ender will be ruined if he ever comes to believe adults will help him with his problems.
Ender enters his new dormitory and discovers that everyone else has already chosen a bunk. He is left with the bottom bunk by the door. Ender worries that others will see him as weak if he meekly accepts the worst spot in the room. He pretends to be...
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An unnamed person complains that Ender is determined to ice out of Battle School in a few months. According to him, Ender’s whole launch group is ruined. They mention that Ender is stuck in a game called the Giant's Drink. The first speaker orders Graff to wait and see what Ender does with the group, although Graff wants to do something else. Graff suggests that the owner of the voice take care of the International Fleet instead of meddling at Battle School. “The fleet is looking for a battle commander,” the first voice says. “There’s nothing to take care of until you get me that.”
For the first time, the boys...
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Two officials discuss Ender’s progress. One claims that Ender must be a monster because of what he did to the Giant. The other, who is probably Colonel Graff, points out that it is a good sign to see Ender win a game that couldn’t be won. Graff says that Ender will soon have to move on. The other voice agrees but asks Graff not to hurt Ender any more than necessary.
Several weeks have passed, and Ender still refuses to admit that he sent the message signed with Bernard’s name. However, Alai knows Ender must have been responsible. After teasing Ender about it, Alai asks for help setting up a computer security system. Ender...
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Colonel Graff has ordered Major Anderson, who runs the games the boys play at Battle School, to brainstorm ways to make battles unfair. Anderson protests, saying the game will be ruined for all the boys if the teachers rig the battles. Graff insists, saying they need to give Ender the hardest possible challenges in order to bring out the boy’s genius.
Ender finds himself a part of Rat Army, with a boy called Rose the Nose as his new commander. Ender reports directly to Dink Meeker, who is a subofficer called a toon leader. Ender is still practicing on his own with launchies every day. Rose the Nose orders Ender to stop, but Dink...
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Colonel Graff argues with Major Imbu, another teacher at Battle School. Graff is appalled that the computer showed Ender a picture of Peter in the mirror. He wants to know why the game showed that image. Imbu has no explanation; he says that the computer is making up Ender’s training as it goes along. Graff finds this comforting because he is doing the same thing.
Back on Earth, Valentine celebrates Ender’s eighth birthday by lighting a small fire and imagining that Ender, in outer space at Battle School, can see the smoke. Valentine and her family now live in the wilderness of North Carolina. She knows her parents hope that...
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Colonel Graff tells Major Anderson that it is time to make Ender a commander. Anderson says Ender is a top candidate even though he is a year and a half younger than usual. Still, Anderson is reluctant to change Ender's life when Ender finally seems content. Graff refuses to act out of compassion. He sends Anderson to get the boy.
When Anderson comes for him, Ender knows immediately that he is being promoted to commander. He will lead Dragon Army, a name he has never heard before. Anderson explains that the name was discontinued four years ago because the boys got superstitious about it. In the history of Battle School, no Dragon...
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Graff protests against the grueling schedule of battles Anderson has prepared for Ender’s Dragon Army. Normally soldiers get three months before a battle and then have only one battle every two weeks. Anderson wants Ender to do much more, but this may wear Ender out beyond the limits of his abilities. Anderson says a computer created the difficult schedule and predicted that Ender would do best under these harsh conditions.
At the end of the conversation, the two men discuss recent news that Russia and America want to destroy each other as soon as the battle with the buggers is finished. Both men are incredulous. Graff jokes that humanity may not be worth saving.
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General Pace, a member of the military police, says that some teachers think Colonel Graff is neglecting a “potentially lethal” situation. Pace has heard that Bonzo Madrid and several other boys are conspiring to beat up Ender Wiggin. When Graff says he must stand by and do nothing, Pace is incredulous. Graff insists that Ender must believe that adults will never rescue him from any problem, no matter how large. Reluctantly, Pace agrees to go along with Graff’s plan.
At practice in the battleroom, Ender watches Bean experiment with a strong, thin string. Bean figures out how to use the string to change direction in midair, and...
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The International Fleet has discovered that Demosthenes and Locke are pseudonyms for Peter and Valentine Wiggin. In a discussion, two officials decide not to reveal this knowledge to the public. They fear that the Russians will think there is an American plot to use the Wiggin children to gain power. They agree to leave the children alone, at least for now.
Valentine enjoys being Demosthenes. She likes having power and prestige even though she is still a child. There are downsides, however. It upsets her that Father likes Demosthenes’s columns. It also scares her when Peter gets jealous: Demosthenes continues to get more attention...
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Admiral Chamrajnagar berates Graff for taking so long to bring Ender to Eros. The war is approaching quickly, and every moment of preparation is precious. As Graff and Chamrajnagar talk, Graff reveals that he owns nothing and cares for little except his students.
Ender hates Eros, a small asteroid full of tunnels, which all seem to be the wrong size. Many other students live on Eros, but the teachers keep Ender totally isolated. Ender does not complain; he knows it will do no good.
For a year, Ender is drilled on a game called the simulator, “the most perfect videogame he had ever played.” The simulator reacts to...
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Graff sits with Anderson by the lake Ender once visited. Graff has been on trial for the way he treated his students in preparation for the war. He was acquitted, and now he has no plans for the rest of his life.
Ender remains on Eros, marooned there by politicians who feel his political influence would be dangerous on Earth. He helps with efforts to prepare massive groups of human colonists to embark for the now-empty bugger worlds. One by one, Ender’s friends leave, and he is alone again.
One day Ender is surprised to find Valentine waiting for him. She has decided to immigrate to the bugger worlds, and she wants Ender to come along. Peter, she says, is now a...
(The entire section is 565 words.)