Chapter 5: Games
A conversation between Graff and someone who is clearly higher in the military command starts this chapter. They discuss Ender's isolation. Graff insists that Ender must remain isolated so that he never thinks that anyone but himself will be there to help. The other voice asks to whom they can turn if Ender cannot handle his tasks, and Graff says he will make up a list. The conversation ends with Graff saying that Ender can have friends, but no parents.
Once in Battle School Ender and his fellow launch mates (called Launchies) find their bunks and Dap introduces himself to them. Dap is in charge of watching out for them and answering their questions, but he warns them that it is difficult and that they must fend for themselves. Ender's isolation is painful. At dinner an older boy comes to sit with him but Ender does not like him and thinks his advice is not good. Ender has to focus not to let the pain and sadness bother him and so he counts powers of two. He makes it to 67108864 before he loses track and by that point his mind is clear. That night, while lying in bed, Ender cries silently, although by the time Dap comes around to check his bed he is dry eyed and glad that living with Peter taught him how to hide his emotions.
Ender goes to the game room but is quickly bored by the majority of the games. He watches the games that the older boys play, even though they do not like him there, and after about an hour he understands the patterns in the games. Ender challenges an older boy to play him best of three on a game; he beats the boy the second and third games and shocks all of the older students around.
Bernard, whose arm Ender broke, quickly gathers a troop around him. This group constantly teases Ender and an even smaller boy named Shen. Ender quickly breaks into the computer system and sends a message poking fun of Bernard, from a created student named God. Bernard does not know who sent the message, and Shen is amused. Ender later sends a message that appears to be from Bernard that makes him look even more foolish. Bernard gets angry and Dap comes in to settle the dispute. He knows who sent the message, and Bernard yells at him to tell, but Dap makes it clear that Bernard cannot yell at him. Bernard's power over the launch group is broken, and Ender becomes friends with Shen and friendly with a few others.
Ender is able to make friends, which the adults worried he might not be able to do. He ends his isolation and does so through brilliant psychological moves. Ender does it all by himself, however, and it appears that Graff is right, that on his own Ender can handle what is thrown at him. The mental control that Ender exhibits is impressive. To clear his mind and gain control of himself, Ender counts powers of two from two to the first to two to the 26th before he loses count. That mental feat demonstrates both Ender's mental acuity and his strength of will. He is able to distract himself from his situation enough to detach himself emotionally and gain control. This is a technique that Graff wants Ender to develop.
This same mental control allows Ender to understand the patterns in the games that are difficult for the best of the older boys. By the third time he played the game he beat one of them at it easily. Ender simply sees things that others do not. In reality this just makes him different, but at Battle School it makes him better, which means many will dislike him. This is why Ender had to break up Bernard's little clique, because they would have picked on him and provoked him just like Stilson and his group. Leaders are very important, and Ender knew that Bernard would not be a good leader for the Launchies. Because he is different and quicker than the others, Ender cannot show any weaknesses, or they will be instantly exploited. This is why he was glad that living with Peter taught him how to hide his emotions so that others could not see them at all. Others can be easily read and understood but Ender presents a facade that cannot be penetrated. On the other hand, what this means is that Ender will be protected from his enemies but also isolated to a certain degree. Locking up his emotions makes him harder to hurt but it also makes it harder for him to share any true feelings with anyone else.
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