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Shoot Straight - Chapter 5: Games

An Ender's Game reread

From here on out there is a huge spoiler warning: do not keep reading if you haven't read the book and are afraid of having something ruined for you. Go finish the novel! Then come back and chat with us. :)

New Characters:

What Happens

International Fleet: I think this may be my favorite conversation between Graff and Anderson because it's the only real time Colonel Hyrum Graff seems sheepish. Kindergartener broke his arm! Whoops. Apparently Graff had been listening to the entire incident behind the curtain and was waiting for Ender to call for help which, as Major Anderson rightly points out -- and I now picture Viola Davis rolling her eyes at Harrison Ford -- is exactly what Graff claimed to love about the kid in the first place: he settles his own problems.

They both admit they are sort-of losers and have messed up, possibly "losing" Ender already. Let's find out how they get him unlost!

Ender: All the other kids are in the barracks with their beds already chosen, leaving Ender what they think is the worst spot but what ends up being the bed they usually bunk the chief officer -- ha ha. Ender ruffles through his locker and finds a bunch of jumpsuits, his desk, his flash suit, and what I always assume is a bunch of kiddo space-themed underwear, toothbrushes, pajamas, etc.

Dap shows up and gives Ender the flash suit 411 and introduces himself to the other boys as their "mom" -- the only one up there who's paid to be nice to them.

<--- You know, this guy.

Keep your jumpsuit on. Just a little movies-are-not-books joke. Let's carry on!

Dap is a genial fellow, making lots of jokes as he talks about opening the wrong door and being sucked outside, children killing each other,etc -- murder is strictly against the rules, Ender. By the time Dap leaves, he's won every boy over and yet they all seem to be near tears. He's just like a real mom.

Dinnertime doesn't really improve Ender's day as all of the other boys have decided to eat somewhere out of arm reach. An older student, Mick comes by and makes a fool out of himself, trying to give the younger boy advice when he himself claims he's "a fart in the air conditioning." Self-awareness is always a good thing.

On their second day, Dap takes the kids to visit the game room. The older boys don't really give the Launchies a chance at any of them so Ender stands to the side and watches them play, figuring out how the controls work and learning from the other boys' mistakes. He is initially blown off when he asks a boy to play him a round, but talks him into a 2 out of 3. Ender loses the first game but wins the others, which assures the boy he's not out of his league but sort of makes the reader wonder if the rest of the school is filled with assorted Micks.

Meanwhile, back in the barracks, Bernard is tormenting some of the other kids, particularly a young boy named Shen who they call Worm  because he's small and wiggles his bum when he walks. Charming. Ender effectively ends Bernard's reign over the rest of the Launchies when he comes to Shen's defense, breaking into the system and sending out desk messages with Bernard's name:

COVER YOUR BUTT. BERNARD IS WATCHING.
—GOD

I LOVE YOUR BUTT. LET ME KISS IT.
—BERNARD
Funny kid. Anyway, everyone knows it was Ender but there's no proof and Dap only thinks it's hilarious. Shen starts sitting with him at lunch, super thankful, and becomes Ender's first real Battle School friend.

Thoughts

-- Is the term "chief officer" ever used again in Battle School? Is this like the commander of a certain Launchie group?

-- How long does it take a broken arm to heal in the future? Bernard certainly doesn't seem out-of-commission very long. Perhaps they have Skele-Gro!

-- Two chapters ago, Graff said "[N]one of our boys who makes it through the first year has ever failed to receive a commission as an officer. And none has retired from a position of lower rank than chief executive officer of an interplanetary vessel." Do we think that's true of Mick? ;)

Favorite Quotes

I will not be the bugger of my group, Ender thought. I didn't leave Valentine and Mother and Father to come here just to get iced.
 
Dap came to the door that night and moved quietly among the beds, touching a hand here, a forehead there. Where he went there was more crying, not less. The touch of kindness in this frightening place was enough to push some over the edge into tears. Not Ender, though. When Dap came, his face was dry. It was the lying face he presented to Mother and Father, when Peter had been cruel to him and he dare not let it show. Thank you for this, Peter. For dry eyes and silent weeping. You taught me how to hide everything I felt. More than ever, I need that now.

"Yesterday someone sent a message that was signed GOD," Bernard said.
"Really?" said Dap. I didn't know he was signed onto the system." Dap turned and left, and the room was filled with laughter.
 
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