Thankfully, for once it’s easy to tell who’s talking here. Graff tells Anderson to come up with unfair situations to throw against Ender and to rank them by increasing difficulty. (See, they want to steadily increase the challenge that Ender faces, not break him with an unbeatable situation right from the start.)
Anderson objects that the game is everything here, and that they’re going to ruin everything if they ruin the game. In other words, Anderson is like the dad at the little league game who gets into a shouting argument with the ref.
But Graff tells him they’ve got to get ready to invade the bugger worlds. Which should be a what-the-heck moment for you. Humans are going to invade this time instead of waiting for the buggers to come after them?
Rat Army is totally undisciplined, which is a shock after all the discipline of Salamander Army.
The commander of Rat Army is Rose “de Nose,” a Jewish student who trades on the legend that “Jewish generals didn’t lose wars” (8.32).
Rose assigns Ender to Dink Meeker’s toon (short for “platoon” – see, most armies are split into four toons of ten kids).
Rose seems a little weird to Ender (he makes jokes and draws a giant penis on his computer, so Ender doesn’t understand why Rat Army is number two in the rankings).
Dink seems like an OK guy, though. Apparently Dink wanted Ender because he showed promise. And he wants Ender to continue training with the Launchies.
Then Meeker tells Ender that “commanders have just as much authority as you let them have. The more you obey them, the more power they have over you” (8.60). Which is pretty deep for a kid named Dink.
Dink even adopts Ender’s feet-first attack position for his toon, which Ender developed when not fighting in Salamander Army. The other kids don’t like it at first, until it proves useful.
Rose later confronts Ender about some arbitrary rules that Rose set up. Ender, following Dink’s advice, refuses.
Rose is annoyed, so he sends Ender on a suicide mission during their first battle. Ender does pretty well anyway – because that’s just what Ender does.
More battles are fought and Ender learns even more. He loses his first place ranking, but gains it back – because he’s the best. It might be around this point that you start getting sick of how Ender always wins every thing. To that we can only say: we feel the same way sometimes.
Dink and Ender bond a little while skinny-dipping in null gravity.
Like Petra, Dink apparently understands that the real enemies are the adults. Dink reminds Ender that this is just a game – but he loves it anyway.
Oh, and one of our favorite lines: Dink tells Ender that he’s read books about children and he’s “got a pretty good idea what children are, and we're not children. Children can lose sometimes, and nobody cares” (8.134).
Instead, the kids in Battle School all try to act like adults – and no adults are happy, so none of the kids here are happy.
In fact, Dink is such a skeptic that he doesn’t even think there’s going to be a war with the aliens; he thinks the military just pretends the aliens are out there, so they can stay in charge. Ender doesn’t agree, but he starts being more skeptical, which is smart.
(Just to remind you: in the first chapter, Ender thinks adults lie. Later, Petra also tells him that adults lie, and now Dink tells him the same thing. Hmm. It’s probably safe to assume that adults lie, right?)
Some of the older boys try to intimidate the Launchies into giving up practice with Ender. Some of the older boys even attack the Launchies in the null gravity battleroom. However, thanks to their practice, the Launchies are too quick and escape. Well, they also manage to escape because Ender beats up some older boys: smashing his helmet into one person’s face, kicking another boy in the crotch, stomping on some kid’s ear. You know, the usual for Ender.
Bonus: For a moment, Ender imagines that one of the attackers is Stilson. Double bonus: Bonzo is one of the attackers. So it’s like a slideshow of all the bullies Ender has dealt with.
Back in the Fairyland/End of the World game, Ender kills the snake (that was once a rug). But when he looks into the mirror, he sees – gasp – Peter’s face looking back at him. He throws the dead snake at the mirror, which cracks. Then all these little snakes come out and bite him to death.
Back in the real world, many commanders come to Ender to tell him they support his extra practice sessions. In fact, Ender’s next practice session is packed and no one tries to disrupt it.
Ender doesn’t play the End of the World game again, but has disturbing dreams about it. It seems to be accusing him of being just like Peter – which is kind of what the military wants him to be.
Ender hates that part of himself. In fact, when the little snakes bit him to death, he was glad. If we were the school guidance counselor for the Battle School, we might make a note of this.