Now that Ender has solved his two problems, these adults who start off the chapters are going to throw some new problems at him.
One person notes that these kids don’t act like kids. “They act like – history” (7.10). Check out “Symbolism” for some thoughts on that.
Ender learns that he’s been transferred to Salamander Army, which upsets him because he was just learning what it meant to have a friend in Alai.
Alai kisses him on the cheek and says “Salaam.” Ender doesn’t know what that means, but knows that it’s special. It reminds him of his mom and how she used to pray over him.
Instead of going to his new commander, Ender plays the mind game.
In Fairyland, the Giant’s body is mostly decayed, “part of the landscape now” (7.62). Which is too bad, because Ender is really in the mood for some violence right now. (Which will probably then make him feel bad. It’s almost as though he likes feeling bad.)
Instead, he goes to a playground (in the game), but he can’t really use the playground – his character in the game falls through the slide, can’t hold on to the monkey bars, etc. (It’s almost like this is a symbol of something.) The children at the playground all laugh at him.
Then, when Ender goes to a well, the children turn into wolves and kill him. (What could this mean? Now, Orson Scott Card may be obvious in his symbolism, but we think he’s obvious for a reason. Check out “Writing Style” for more on that.)
After a few more times of dying, Ender figures out how to kill all the wolf-children by dissolving them in the stream of acid that’s next to the playground. (Which is really the only logical place to keep a stream of acid.)
Ender goes down the well, through a maze, and through a door marked “The End of the World.” The End of the World, disappointingly, turns out to be just more world, with a castle. He ends up in a tower with no way to get down. Then the rug turns into a snake that then says, “Death is your only escape” (7.84). Snakes, as we all know, are dreadful at making small talk.
His game is interrupted when he’s told to go meet his new commander. He’s angry because he wanted to get away from games and just live there, in the End of the World, without having to kill or be killed. Um, we’d still rather just live in a world called Butterflies and Buttercups. But still.
At the Salamander Army barracks, Ender is reminded how small he is – he’s not even seven and everyone else is eight and up. It’s not looking good for him.
It turns out, in fact, to be quite bad. The only friendly person in Salamander Army is Petra Arkanian, who is a) a sharpshooter – so everyone should like her, right? But she’s also b) a girl, so everyone is afraid that she’ll give them cooties. Ender worries that being friends with a girl will totally kill his street-cred. (Not once you’re a teenager, Ender.)
The rest of the barracks reminds him of the wolf-children from the video game: “Am I the only human being in this place? Are all the others animals, waiting only to devour?” (7.103).
Add to that the fact that commander Bonzo Madrid wants Ender just to sit down and shut up and not play in any of their battles.
But Petra offers to help train him in shooting. Since he has nothing to lose, Ender agrees to be friends with a girl.
Petra also offers him the advice not to trust the adults, which Ender totally agrees with: “The adults are the enemy, not the other armies. They do not tell us the truth” (7.189).
Ender watches the way Bonzo commands the army both in the battleroom and outside of it. He comes to the conclusion that Bonzo is an idiot, so Ender starts coming up with his own plans.
But since Salamander Army won’t practice with him, Ender goes to the Launchies and gets them to practice with him.
Bonzo tries to forbid Ender from practicing with Launchies, but Ender points out that Bonzo doesn’t have that power. It helps to picture Bonzo’s head as a teakettle, and every time Ender beats him, imagine the heat increasing. It’s like you can see the steam coming out of his head.
In the battles between Salamander and the other armies, Ender observes how the other students try to keep their up-down orientation, while Ender realizes that there is no up-down if there’s no gravity. Ender figures out that the best orientation is to imagine that “The enemy’s gate was down” (7.255) and to imagine yourself just falling towards it.
Since Bonzo doesn’t let Ender fire during the battles, Ender has a really good score in the game – he’s never missed, after all. Though Ender realizes that he could’ve saved the day during the first battle he watched, he doesn’t because “orders were orders, and Ender had promised to obey” (7.262).
Ender continues to train with Alai and the other Launchies and they keep getting better. One reason is that they keep making stupid mistakes (because no one taught them not to) and then those stupid mistakes lead them to smart ideas.
For his birthday, Ender gets a new set of uniforms. Yay?
But he’s homesick. Really, he’s only in Battle School so he can protect the people he loves. Or as Ender puts it, he’s here “so that a bugger won't shoot out Valentine's eye, won't blast her head open […] Won't split her head with a beam so hot that her brains burst the skull and spill out like rising bread dough” (7.273). Which seems like a pretty graphic imagination for something that you don’t want to happen.
Then, in a battle between Salamander and Leopard Armies, just when Leopard is about to win, Ender disobeys orders and freezes several of the opposing team. The game ends in a tie.
Bonzo hates Ender for disobeying orders and helping him. That night, Bonzo comes over to tell Ender that he’s been traded to Rat Army and, for good measure, to hit Ender.
The next day, Ender registers for a personal protection class so no one can hit him again.