Chapter 6: The Giant's Drink
Graff is talking with another high military authority, possibly the same person to whom he speaks in the beginning of the previous chapter. Their conversation focuses around the fact that Ender appears to be in trouble. His launch group is split apart, and in Ender is stuck at the "Giant's Drink" portion of a game the men discuss. The two make reference to a boy who killed himself, though Graff thinks the death had nothing to do with the mind game. Graff is ordered to leave Ender with his launch group to see how he handles the situation, even though Graff wants take a different course of action. The other person is in charge of the fleet, and says that until Graff gives him a commander there is nothing for him to do.
Ender and the other Launchies are in the battleroom for the first time, getting used to null gravity and the suits they wear in it. Ender quickly begins to explore with moving around, as does another boy, Bernard's best friend Alai. The two of them bond while moving around the room, as the other boys are slower to experiment and not as good. They figure out that the guns that they all have freeze the part of the suit that they hit. Alai suggests that they freeze everyone but Ender suggests that they do so along with Bernard and Shen. They freeze all the others, and Ender and Alai become friends. Soon Alai is in charge and his group includes everyone else. Bernard is no longer in charge at all.
During free time Ender plays the mind game, which is called Free Play. He almost does not want to, because he knows what will happen when he gets to the Giant, but he plays anyway. When he gets to the Giant he has to play the guessing game—the Giant sets two drinks down in front of him (they are different every time) and Ender has to choose the one that is not poison to go to Fairyland. Every time Ender plays he guesses wrong, and the game bothers him greatly. Finally, playing angrily, Ender knocks over the drinks and attacks the Giant, digging through his eye with his hands. The Giant screams and dies and a bat welcomes Ender into Fairyland. Instead of feeling happy, Ender is saddened that he could only stop his own death by killing another person. Even in a game he feels just like Peter.
These chapters make it clear that the fate of mankind depends upon Ender. Graff is speaking with the highest officials of the I.F., who have a direct interest in Ender's actions. Graff wants to be able to teach Ender without any interference, but in a matter of this much importance it is unlikely that he can avoid questioning of his moves by the higher authorities. On the other hand, it appears that Graff's faith in Ender is well placed, since Ender managed to solve the launch group problem through his friendship with Alai. This is the first true friendship that Ender has made, and it is important, because his loneliness was troubling him greatly. The fact that he broke Bernard's control of the launch group means that he will no longer have to be an outsider amongst his own.
What is more troubling and ultimately more important is the mind game. The concern that the other voice expressed about the game seems to be justified, if only because of the import it has for Ender. He is aware that it is just a game, but he is tormented by it, unable not to play but at the same time angered by what he has to do in order to survive. Ender is able to get past the Giant's Drink by breaking the rules—he chooses not to choose a drink and instead attacks the giant. He did this mostly because he was so angry at how unfair the game was, but the novel establishes a paradox by showing that the only way Ender can win is by breaking the rules. Similarly he won the fight against Stilson and his cronies by breaking the rules of combat, kicking an opponent while he was on the ground. Ender is constantly put in situations where he has to figure out a way to save himself, and the only way to do so seems to involve exploding the prescribed rules. Although the officials are comfortable with this chain of events, Ender feels that such acts of violence uncomfortably align his character with Peter's. Ender does not want to hurt anyone, yet he is constantly put in situations where he must either be hurt or hurt someone else, and in those cases he really does not have much of a choice. Graff's strategy seems to be to always put Ender in a situation where he will do what he is needed to do, not because he wants to, but because he has no choice.
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