Ender’s Game

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The Battleroom Symbol Icon

During Ender’s time in Battle School, his teachers make him fight mock-battles in a zero-gravity chamber called the battleroom. At first, Ender is frightened and incapable of controlling his movements in the battleroom, but over time, he learns to maneuver his body, shoot straight, and command other soldiers to impressive victories. Understood in this sense, the battleroom is an apt symbol of Ender’s growth and maturation over the course of the novel: at first, he’s “adrift” in life—a “Third” with no rights. Gradually, however, he learns to control the course of his own destiny, and gains the loyalty of those around him. But as Ender becomes more confident in the battleroom, also he comes to see it as a prison. Ender can do whatever he wants within the battleroom, but at the end of the day he’s a prisoner inside it, something to be directed and manipulated by his teachers and commanders.

The Battleroom Quotes in Ender’s Game

The Ender’s Game quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Battleroom. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Love, Empathy, and Destruction Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Tor edition of Ender’s Game published in 2008.
Chapter 11 Quotes

“They need us, that’s why.” Bean sat down on the floor and stared at Ender’s feet. “Because they need somebody to beat the Buggers. That’s the only thing they care about.”
“It’s important that you know that, Bean. Because most boys in this school think the game is important for itself—but it isn’t. It’s only important because it helps them find kids who might grow up to be real commanders, in the real war. But as for the game, screw that.”

Related Characters: Andrew “Ender” Wiggin (speaker), Bean (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Battleroom
Page Number: 196-197
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quotation, Ender confides in his friend Bean—a young, ambitious soldier in the Dragon Army, whom Ender had initially mocked for his size. Ender tells Bean what he's learned about Battle School so far: the game, he believes, is fake, while war is real. Ender claims that most students in school are so competitive that they never fully grasp that the game is "just a game"—there are always students like Bonzo who are so competitive that they're willing to kill an opponent because of a win or loss in the Battle Room.

Ender's speech is ironic, as we'll soon find out, since in the end, there is no difference between the game and the war with the Buggers. Ender's mistake—his tragic flaw, you could say—is that he thinks he can preserve some of his humanity and compassion during Battle School; i.e., he can be a brutal commander during a game, and a normal human being for the rest of the day. Graff, knowing full-well that Ender thinks the Battle Room is just a game, will manipulate Ender into heartlessly annihilating the Buggers by lying to him about what is and isn't real.

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Chapter 12 Quotes

Only then did it occur to William Bee that not only had Dragon Army ended the game, it was possible that, under the rules, they had won it. After all, no matter what happened, you were not certified as the winner unless you had enough unfrozen soldiers to touch the corners of the gate and pass someone through into the enemy’s corridor.

Related Characters: Andrew “Ender” Wiggin , William Bee
Related Symbols: The Battleroom
Page Number: 218
Explanation and Analysis:

In this scene—one of the few moments from the novel in which the perspective shifts away from Ender Wiggin—Card describes one of Ender's most ingenious victories in the Battle Room. A technicality states that an army can only win by launching five soldiers through the opponent team's side. Usually, armies interpret this rule to mean that after the battle, five soldiers must cross to the other side. Ender, knowing he's badly outnumbered and has no chance of winning, simply launches his soldiers before the game has begun.

The shift in perspective that takes place during this scene helps convey the ingenuity of Ender's plan. For once, we're not privy to Ender's decision-making process, and so Ender's final decision becomes all the more unexpected and dazzling. The scene is also a good example of how Ender "cuts the Gordian knot" (a legendary knot that was impossible to untie, but which Alexander the Great supposedly cut open with his sword)—i.e., rethinks the rules of the game in a creative way—when he's under pressure. Arguably his greatest talent as a leader is that he can twist the rules bit by bit. Graff knows about Ender's talent, and uses it to trick him into killing the Buggers.

Chapter 14 Quotes

Forget it, Mazer. I don’t care if I pass your test, I don’t care if I follow your rules, if you can cheat, so can I. I won’t let you beat me unfairly—I’ll beat you unfairly first.
In that final battle in Battle School, he had won by ignoring the enemy, ignoring his own losses; he had moved against the enemy’s gate.
And the enemy’s gate was down.

Related Characters: Andrew “Ender” Wiggin (speaker), Mazer Rakham
Related Symbols: The Battleroom
Page Number: 293
Explanation and Analysis:

In the novel's climactic scene, Ender faces an opponent (which he believes to be a computer simulation) more dangerous than any he's ever seen. Badly outnumbered, Ender isn't sure how to react. After a moment's thought, he decides to "cut the Gordian knot" once again. Ender decides to "win" the game by breaking the rules; sacrificing huge chunks of his own army in order to exterminate the Buggers at their source. Ender has the creativity to break the rules because he remembers the un-winnable battles he won in the Battle Room by breaking similar sets of rules.

The tragedy of Ender's decision is that he's willing to exterminate his opponents because he's convinced it's "just a game." In reality, though, the game is real. Thanks to Graffs' deceptions, Ender has been commanding real troops against a real enemy, and by winning the battle, he's won the Bugger War forever.

Ender's "victory" in this scene proves how well his education at Battle School has taught him to think of violence as a mere simulation. Although he's a uniquely compassionate, loving boy, he never has any qualms about sending troops to their deaths or murdering millions of Bugger opponents—but this is only possible because he's convinced that the game and the real world are separate, and that he's participating in the former.

In a broader sense, though, Ender's defeat of the Buggers illustrates how completely the IF commanders control him. After decades of running tests on their prized pupil, Graff and his colleagues know exactly how Ender's mind works. They know when he'll keep pushing, and when he'll crack under pressure. Ironically, "cracking under pressure" is exactly what Graff wants Ender to do in this scene:  Ender inadvertently exterminates the Buggers because he's sick of battle simulations, and wants a break.

Graff lies to Ender about the reality of the game for two reasons, one kind, one selfish. Graff wants to protect Ender from the guilt of consciously choosing to murder the Buggers—a decision that no single human being could possibly make. At the same time, Graff lies to Ender because he wants to make sure that Ender completes his assignment instead of compassionately refusing to commit mass murder. It's cowardly of Graff to place the burden of genocide on Ender's shoulders, and—as we'll soon see—the fact that Ender didn't know the game was real doesn't make him feel any less responsible.

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The Battleroom Symbol Timeline in Ender’s Game

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Battleroom appears in Ender’s Game. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3: Graff
Love, Empathy, and Destruction Theme Icon
Leadership Theme Icon
Control, Manipulation, and Authority Theme Icon
...Battle School: strategy, military history, etc. He’ll play war games in a structure called the battleroom. Most of the students at Battle School are boys, with a handful of exceptions. Graff... (full context)
Chapter 6: The Giant’s Drink
Games, Computers, and Virtual Reality Theme Icon
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
Control, Manipulation, and Authority Theme Icon
The chapter opens with Ender being sent, along with the other new students, to the battleroom—a place with zero gravity where the students play war games. Everyone wears a jumpsuit, which... (full context)
Games, Computers, and Virtual Reality Theme Icon
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
As Ender and Shen float through the battleroom, they notice Bernard’s best friend, a boy named Alai. Ender collides with Alai, and the... (full context)
Love, Empathy, and Destruction Theme Icon
Games, Computers, and Virtual Reality Theme Icon
Morality and Survival Theme Icon
Leadership Theme Icon
One day shortly after his first experience in the battleroom, Ender is sitting in his bed, fooling around on his desk. He decides to play... (full context)
Chapter 7: Salamander
Games, Computers, and Virtual Reality Theme Icon
Leadership Theme Icon
...Ender’s heart sinks. He has nothing to offer these people—he has no military training, or battleroom training, to speak of. A tall, attractive boy approaches Ender and asks him for his... (full context)
Love, Empathy, and Destruction Theme Icon
Games, Computers, and Virtual Reality Theme Icon
Leadership Theme Icon
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
...offers to teach Ender how to be a soldier (how to shoot, maneuver in the battleroom, etc.). Ender grins and agrees. (full context)
Games, Computers, and Virtual Reality Theme Icon
Leadership Theme Icon
...soldiers have warned him that Bonzo doesn’t like other soldiers associating with her. In the battleroom, Petra teaches Ender how to shoot straight, passing on the lessons she’s learned over the... (full context)
Love, Empathy, and Destruction Theme Icon
Morality and Survival Theme Icon
Leadership Theme Icon
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
...There, he finds Bernard, along with Alai. He invites them to practice maneuvers in the battleroom. Together, Ender, Shen, Alai, and Bernard practice aiming, and Ender passes on some of the... (full context)
Games, Computers, and Virtual Reality Theme Icon
Leadership Theme Icon
...first battle with Salamander Army. The army is about to begin a game in the battleroom. They step out and notice that the room is full of large, brown boxes called... (full context)
Games, Computers, and Virtual Reality Theme Icon
Leadership Theme Icon
...army wins the game by sending five soldiers through the Salamander army’s side of the battleroom. Ender notes that if he’d disobeyed Bonzo and shot even one soldier, the Condor army... (full context)
Chapter 8: Rat
Games, Computers, and Virtual Reality Theme Icon
Morality and Survival Theme Icon
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
Control, Manipulation, and Authority Theme Icon
...Graff orders Anderson to devote all his time and resources to challenging Ender via the battleroom. Anderson points out that if it becomes too obvious that the Battle School is manipulating... (full context)
Leadership Theme Icon
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
Control, Manipulation, and Authority Theme Icon
...Army, a boy named Rose. Rose teases Ender, implying that Ender’s high rankings in the battleroom are a fluke. Ender thinks about all he knows about Rose: Rat Army is in... (full context)
Love, Empathy, and Destruction Theme Icon
Morality and Survival Theme Icon
Leadership Theme Icon
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
Control, Manipulation, and Authority Theme Icon
...as Ender allows them to have. He also tells Ender to expect rigorous training in battleroom shooting and maneuvering: despite his young age, Ender won’t be treated any differently from the... (full context)
Leadership Theme Icon
...soldier. He tells Ender that in the next battle, he’ll be sent out into the battleroom by himself, to be shot immediately. (full context)
Games, Computers, and Virtual Reality Theme Icon
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At the next battle, Rose orders Ender to launch himself through the battleroom alone. The order is seemingly suicidal—Rose is sacrificing Ender as a punishment. Ender launches himself... (full context)
Games, Computers, and Virtual Reality Theme Icon
Morality and Survival Theme Icon
Leadership Theme Icon
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
Control, Manipulation, and Authority Theme Icon
...children into fighting with each other, something that Dink finds repulsive. Nevertheless, he loves the battleroom too much to give up on Battle School altogether. Dink reminisces about “normal children”—children who... (full context)
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Leadership Theme Icon
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
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Shortly after Ender’s conversation with Dink, he goes to practice battleroom maneuvers with Alai and some other friends. Bernard isn’t present—word has gotten out that any... (full context)
Games, Computers, and Virtual Reality Theme Icon
Morality and Survival Theme Icon
Leadership Theme Icon
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
...with new students. A group of older boys from other armies (including Salamander) enter the battleroom and see Ender practicing. They jump toward Ender’s group, preparing to fight. Ender commands his... (full context)
Chapter 9: Locke and Demosthenes
Love, Empathy, and Destruction Theme Icon
Games, Computers, and Virtual Reality Theme Icon
Leadership Theme Icon
Childhood and Growing Up Theme Icon
...then cuts back to the Battle School. Ender has been the leading soldier in the battleroom for many months. He’s nine years old, and a toon leader in the Phoenix Army,... (full context)
Chapter 10: Dragon
Love, Empathy, and Destruction Theme Icon
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Leadership Theme Icon
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...for an army. Ender then orders his soldiers to suit up and run to the battleroom. When some of them don’t dress fast enough, he orders them to run through the... (full context)
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Ender and his soldiers arrive in the battleroom, some of them still frantically pulling on their jumpsuits. Ender orders his troops to assemble... (full context)
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Leadership Theme Icon
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...stays late to help some of the most inexperienced soldiers. At the edge of the battleroom, he notices Bean waiting for him, and goes to talk. Bean begins, “I know what... (full context)
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After writing his thoughts, Ender goes to free practice in the battleroom, as usual. There, he finds Major Anderson, who informs him that from now on, he’s... (full context)
Chapter 11: Veni Vidi Vici
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Leadership Theme Icon
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...weeks now. He barely sleeps, and spends long hours making plans of attack for the battleroom. His troops have grown into capable, intelligent soldiers, and Ender trusts them to improvise strategies... (full context)
Love, Empathy, and Destruction Theme Icon
Games, Computers, and Virtual Reality Theme Icon
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...be loyal and disciplined. After an hour of light practice, the troops go to the battleroom. As the battle is about to begin, Ender reminds his soldiers of their signature attack... (full context)
Love, Empathy, and Destruction Theme Icon
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The battle begins. Right away, Ender notices that there are “stars” scattered through the battleroom. He directs his toons to shoot through the room and improvise their strategies once they’ve... (full context)
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Leadership Theme Icon
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It’s still early in the morning when Ender’s troops have left the battleroom. He orders them to the mess hall for breakfast, and then to the battleroom for... (full context)
Love, Empathy, and Destruction Theme Icon
Leadership Theme Icon
...sitting there. Dink greets Ender cheerfully, and compliments him for his good showing in the battleroom. After a few moments, however, Ender realizes that Dink isn’t as friendly as he seems—in... (full context)
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Ender focuses his attention on learning new strategies for the battleroom. He researches old propaganda videos of Mazer Rackham defeating the Buggers. As he watches in... (full context)
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After the battle, Major Anderson enters the battleroom, approaches Ender, and congratulates him on his victory. Ender is furious, however, and insists that... (full context)
Chapter 12: Bonzo
Love, Empathy, and Destruction Theme Icon
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Ender brings his army to the battleroom. He’s dismayed to find that the two enemy armies have already taken their positions within... (full context)
Games, Computers, and Virtual Reality Theme Icon
Leadership Theme Icon
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...William Bee, the commander of Griffin Army. Bee witnesses the Dragon soldiers shooting through the battleroom. He orders his troops to fire. His soldiers shoot many of the Dragon soldiers, and... (full context)
Love, Empathy, and Destruction Theme Icon
Games, Computers, and Virtual Reality Theme Icon
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We return to Ender’s perspective. He just won, ingeniously, by bending the rules of the battleroom. Overjoyed, Crazy Tom congratulates Ender and asks him when the next practice will be. Ender... (full context)