How we cite our quotes:
But with his old friends there was no laughter, no remembering. Just work. Just intelligence and excitement about the game, but nothing beyond that. (9.179)
Something like this comes up a few times in Ender’s Game – see 9.182, 11.62, and 14.237. In all of these cases, Ender’s friends are never very friendly with him. (Or vice versa – let’s not blame anyone yet.) In all these cases, people focus on the game and on Ender’s responsibility as commander. In some ways, Ender’s position as commander gets in the way of his potential as a friend. Which raises some questions: does friendship require some sort of equality? Is there any way that Ender can be both a commander and a friend?
But I'll be watching you, more compassionately than you know, and when the time is right you'll find that I'm your friend, and you are the soldier you want to be. (10.150)
This is Ender’s thought on what he’s doing to Bean. (As he says just before this, he’s hurting Bean in order to make him a better soldier.) But does that make Ender into Bean’s friend? (Whatever we say here probably goes for Graff and Ender’s relationship as well.) This is an interesting moment because Ender declares himself to be Bean’s secret friend, which seems to be an unusual type of friendship. (Again, this isn’t going to be one of those friendships where they can go catch a movie together.) Maybe unusual friendships are the only types of friendships we find in Ender’s Game. Are there any simple, “normal” friendships here?
"It's good to know I have a friend here." But Ender wasn't sure Dink was his friend anymore. Neither was Dink. (11.81)
Ender has basically this same moment with Dink, with Alai (10.175), and with Petra (11.104). In all these cases, Ender’s old friendship is damaged by the game and Battle School. This reminds us of how Ender’s friendships are complicated – by which we mean that Ender feels like he doesn’t have any friends. That's a bummer, no matter how smart Ender is. Now, all these kids do show up at Command School and Ender seems happy to see them. But since he lost these friends once, couldn't he could lose them again?