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ENDER'S GAME PLOT SUMMARY
CHAPTER SEVEN: Salamander
The speaker, presumably Colonel Graff, comments on how Ender has won the game with the Giant, which had been thought impossible before, and how he had effectively dealt with Bernard so that now Ender can be moved out of the group. The other speaker, this one assumed to be Major Anderson, seems occupied with the thought of how the children at Battle School do not act like children but rather like “history”.
Back among the children, Alai tells Ender he figured out how Ender sent the message with Bernard’s name: by creating another student account with the name Bernard, followed by a space. Alai now needs the security system that Ender set up around his own account as other boys are getting close to figuring out how to work the original system. Ender agrees to give it to him, but when the two return to the room, Ender can not open his locker. Alai finds a note on Ender’s bed, saying that Ender has been transferred to the Salamander Army.
Ender is upset over this news, since he was starting to enjoy things the way they were. The two hug and Alai, admitting that Ender’s greatness is what has led to the promotion, tells him that they will always be friends. Alai then kisses Ender on the cheek and says “Salaam”. Ender does not understand the meaning behind the word or action but knows that it is sacred.
Instead of joining his new army immediately, Ender goes to the game room and returns to the game with the Giant, who is now a decayed figure. He goes past this and follows a brook to a playground. However, every time his figure goes to play on any of the equipment, it will not support him. The other children’s laughter drives Ender to follow a path away from the playground, where he reaches a well. There, he is surrounded by wolves with faces of the children from the playground.
Ender discovers that the way to defeat the wolves is back at the playground. He must lead the children figures into traps, whereby they turn into their wolf forms and Ender drags the bodies into the brook. Then he is able to return to the well, which he climbs down. He continues on to a door marked “The End of the World”. When he opens it, Ender finds a beautiful world and a cloud carries him to an enclosed room in a tower. A serpent reveals himself, but before Ender can react, the game is abruptly ended by a message telling him to report to his commander. As he leaves the game room, he wonders what it would be like to live without having to kill or defend himself.
As Ender looks at the Salamander Army, he realizes how much smaller than everyone else he is. To add to his isolation, Petra Arkanian, the only girl in the Army and an outcast, starts to chat with him. Then Bonzo Madrid, a good looking boy, enters. He questions Ender on his age (6 years, 9 months) and his experience working with a group, which Ender does not have. Madrid says his army was given Ender just as they were getting somewhere, and he intends to trade Ender as soon as possible. All together, twice the Army cries out “Salamander”, which Ender recognizes as a sign of solidarity. However, Madrid also says that although Ender must be present at practices and battles, he is to do nothing, and the commander smacks Petra when she comments.
Ender finds his new uniform in the unsecured, group locker. Petra approaches him and offers to be friends, as well as to train him every day after breakfast. The scheduling will not be a problem because there are actually 9 battlerooms at the center of the school; when one is occupied, another will move to the entrance. As he prepares for bed, Ender also learns that he must wear clothes as he moves about and he cannot talk to those not in his army. He is picked on in the bathroom by those in other armies, but he does not respond; he is pleased that they knew his name though.
When Ender meets Petra for practice the next day, she makes it clear to him that there are questions about how the battlerooms operate that the children do not know the answers to; the adults are thus seen as the enemy for not telling the truth. Petra starts off practice by shooting at target balls with such speed and accuracy that it proves why she is known as the best sharpshooter in the Army. Ender is unable to hit any of the balls, but Petra says she can teach him. They spend the rest of practice talking about technique.
At Army practice, Ender studies Madrid’s tactics instead of doing his own schoolwork as he was told. He quickly realizes how much he does not know, but he also sees ways that Madrid could improve his strategies. Ender is eager to practice what he has seen, but the only people available to him are his old group of Launchies. Madrid is angry when he hears of the practice, because he does not think that anyone in his army should be seen with a group that is typically looked down on so much.
Ender argues with Madrid outside of earshot of the others that the more Ender learns, the sooner he can be traded. Regardless, Madrid cannot control Ender’s free play time. Recognizing his defeat but still wanting to maintain his image, Madrid goes along with the ploy that Ender comes up with-Ender returns to the room, pretending he has lost the argument and then, the next morning, Madrid pretended to change his mind and give Ender permission to continue with the practice sessions.
Ender experiences his first battle, where the battleroom is changed so that the door is in the middle of the room (not near what is thought of as the floor) and boxes, what the players call “stars”, are spread randomly throughout the room. Ender drifted as ordered, and Salamander lost quickly, due to Madrid’s lack of strategy, until the battle deteriorated into individual shootouts. Condor, the other army, was left with just 5 members left, the minimum left to declare victory. Salamander was left with an unusual score, since Ender had only been shot in the legs. Madrid later repeated the orders, insisting that Ender not shoot, which Ender finds stupid. Since he did not fire his gun, and was never fully disabled, Ender had a perfect score on the efficiency list.
Ender keeps with his practice routine. His birthday comes but nobody talks about it, or anything home-related for that matter. Ender finds it difficult to forget though, since Valentine, protecting her from the buggers, was the reason he came to Battle School.
There is another battle, this one against the newly-formed Leopard Army, whose tactic was to move about so that the other army felt surrounded and demoralized. When the Leopard Army went to walk through the gate to declare their victory, thinking that everyone had been demobilized, Ender shoots at them and is able to freeze enough of them that the battle is declared a draw.
Madrid is able to trade Ender to the Rat Army, but he also hits Ender for disobeying orders. Instead, the action brings murmurs of discontent among the rest of the Salamander Army. Ender ends the training sessions with Petra so it does not appear that she is challenging Madrid’s authority in any way. But Ender also signs up for an earth-gravity personal combat course to prevent being beaten up again.
The title of this chapter is especially meaningful. Salamanders have long been associated with fire, and are thus connected with two other, both mythological, figures that will appear in the novel soon-the phoenix (the name of the army Petra will command) and the dragon (the name of the army Ender will command). Thus, both Petra and Ender, former members of the Salamander Army will go on to run their own armies also with animals linked to fire.
Salamanders are also known for their ability to regenerate limbs. This could metaphorically be applied in any number of ways. For instance, the army itself lost a toon leader when Ender was promoted into it, but Ender grows in his ability and proves himself valuable. Another way would be that Ender is cut off from his old group, as he was starting to fit into it, and now must grow as a soldier.
The other creature that features in this chapter is the serpent. Traditionally seen as tricky and dangerous, this one is no different. It repeatedly kills Ender. As will become clearer later on in the novel, it can even parallel the serpent from the Garden of Eden, as it drives Ender to actions he will regret, and its transformation and eventual escape result in a similar situation to the expulsion of Adam and Eve.
Major Anderson’s comment that the children at Battle School do not act like children, but like history can be seen in a number of ways. Bonzo’s attitude of pride is a stereotypical representation of Spain. Petra, the only girl in the Army, finds herself outcast. Ironically though, in the chapter that begins with talk of how they do not act like children, Ender’s figure in the fantasy game appears as a child figure this time, instead of as an adult as usual. Throughout the novel, there are these fluctuations between childlike and adult behavior.Table of Contents | Message Board | Downloadable/Printable Version