Graff and another adult, whose identity is unknown, discuss how to deal with Ender at the Battle School. They decide that he must be isolated and yet also be able to win followers—they need him to be a creative genius who can also properly delegate authority. Graff insists that Ender is nice but that they will get rid of that undesirable trait. The other adult mentions that it appears that Graff enjoys breaking the children and Graff responds that he is good at it, but it is only worth it when they are pieced back together stronger than before.
Before they go on the shuttle that will take them to the Battle School Ender notices that the nineteen other children on the launch are all laughing and joking. Ender's nervousness only makes him more serious. He realizes that Graff and the other officers were observing their every move. As Ender boards the space shuttle he realizes that gravity will have a different meaning in space. The walls are carpeted like floors, and Ender imagines himself walking down a wall. Graff speaks to him and he learns that the officer is in charge of the Battle School. Ender thinks Graff will be his friend.
Once they are in space, Graff begins playing with orientation, and since there is no gravity he can orient himself in any number of ways. Ender sees all of this and, far from being disoriented, finds it funny, changing orientations in his mind faster than Graff does physically. Graff asks him what is so funny, Ender tells him, and Graff asks the other children if they think it is funny. They all say no, and then Graff insults them, saying that Ender is the only intelligent one in the whole group. A kid behind Ender begins hitting him in the head with the buckle from his seat. Ender quickly realizes that Graff had deliberately provoked this child's anger and that he will have no help from anyone. He times the boy's movements and grabs his arm hard the next time he attempts to strike. Because of the lack of gravity, Ender's force propels the boy out of his seat and he flies along until he hits the wall, breaking his arm. Ender feels ill and thinks he is just like Peter.
Graff isolates Ender further by telling the children not to mess with Ender since he is clearly the only intelligent one among them. Ender tells himself he did the right thing, reassuring himself that he is not like Peter. When they arrive at the school Ender has a conversation with Graff. He starts to tell Graff that he feels betrayed, but Graff tells him that it is not his job to make friends. He says that his job is simply to train soldiers to save mankind. He says that people are free until they are needed by their race, at which point they are merely tools. Ender disagrees but Graff tells him that is the way things will be until the war is over. He then dismisses Ender and strikes up a conversation with a teacher named Anderson, who asks if Ender is the one. Graff says if he is not they are in trouble, and then says that he really is Ender's friend. Graff says Ender is a good kid, and that it is terrible what they will do to him. Anderson points out that they are going to make him the best commander in military history.
Graff wastes no time in isolating Ender, just as he said he would in the beginning conversation, which now appears to have been with Anderson. The adults increasingly manipulate Ender, and it seems that adults will attempt to direct his every move. However, Ender is brilliant, and he understands what Graff is trying to do almost instantly. Every time Ender gets in a situation where he must protect himself he ends up feeling like Peter, and he has trouble convincing himself that he is any different from his brother. Ender now sees Graff purely as someone who is trying to use him, which is true, since Graff himself said it, but there is more to the man in charge of the Battle School.
As Graff says to Anderson, he does really care about Ender. The fact that they are still going to put him through so much shows that they really do have no choice, and it also makes it clear that things are even more urgent than Graff told Ender. Ender has to be the one that they are looking for, possibly because there is not enough time for them to find anyone else. Graff is human, and although he will do things to Ender that he does not think are right, they are necessary because, as he explained, people are tools when they are needed. This speech that Graff gives is as important as any in the book, because it elucidates a crucial philosophy—that our very freedom is not our own but a property of humanity's, and we may be called upon to sacrifice that freedom in order to serve a cause that is larger than ourselves. This is a major argument for why people should fight for their ideals, except in this case it is all of mankind against aliens. Ender, however, does not believe that human beings are merely tools. He thinks people are more important than that.
This chapter establishes Ender's superiority to the rest of the recruits. Although he does not deserve to be set up by Graff, Ender sees things that other people do not see, and his ability to visualize is unhampered by any assumptions that others may have. Ender can readily adopt his mind to any new situation and is flexible enough to view it on its own terms. Thus he is already showing the sort of capabilities that the I.F. is looking for in a fleet commander.