"The enemy's gate is down" means "think
outside the box". It means "if you remain oriented the way you
were before you entered the battle you will lose." Bean reminds Ender
to think this way, which is what wins the final battle.
Ender eventually regrets his xenocide. He regrets
concluding that buggers were "the enemy" when he really had no
understanding of them. Thus, he lowered himself (went "down")
when he attacked them (went to their gate). People lower themselves when
they see others as "enemy" without understanding. I felt
"Speaker for the Dead" was a confirmation of that idea, rather
than a book on a whole new idea which was not a major theme of EG.
Or does it mean that it's easier to 'fall' into seeing
someone as your enemy than it is to meet them on your own level- as
equals? And that this is a mistake we should avoid?
I think that it's just a nifty tactical move in zero G
combat. It kind of makes it easy, just fall towards the enemy's gate and
take over. Besides, that's basically the tactic that was used in the last
battle, even though he didn't have a single fighter left to "go
through the gate", but that's ok being as the gate was an expanding
In the final battle he decides "If I break this rule,
they'll never let me be a commander. It would be too dangerous. I'll never
have to play a game again. And that is victory." It is paradoxical
that in the very act of opting out of future command of the fleet he
obviates any future command, but he's still quitting.
I need to clarify that the rule he is breaking isn't
"the enemy's gate is down", but the rule about going
through the gate without wiping out all the enemy first, just like he did
in the final battle at Battle School.
BTW, "the enemy's gate is down" represents OSC's
acknowledgement that zero G battle will require taking 3-dimensional
thinking to yet another level.
I think that I'll add that to Ender, at that time, it was
a reminder to himself and the other children that "this is just like
the Game" or "it is only a game".
To Bean, it possibly meant that it was time to give up, to
stop playing the game. Paradoxically however, he was the only child who
was aware that it *wasn't* a game. So I'm not exactly sure I accept this
explanation as its written in the text.
As a student of military history and tactics, OSC shows in
EG that he knows that in military parlance you attack the enemy's
"center of gravity". Where in the Battle Room was the enemy's
"center of gravity"? His/her gate. Ender and Bean proved that
conclusively in their final Battle Room battle. Direction of gravity:
down. The enemy's gate is down.
Time for a gut-wrenching admission: sycophant that I am
... ;-d ... the only major fault I've ever picked with EG is that even as
I read it the first time I kept thinking, What is the objective here? Why
aren't they attacking and defending the gates? Attrition is the aim of the
Game?? They're teaching these kids that the only way to win is to attrit
the enemy??? I was greatly relieved when the attack on the gate prior to
attrition finally came, but thought commanders worth their salt would have
thought of it long before, even if only once, and even if it meant the
rules were changed immediately, the way Anderson did when Ender finally
pulled that trick.
I think down only has negative connotations when it is in
a certain context, and that it is possible to look too much into
something. I think that has happened here, and happens quite often. We try
and find meaning where there is none, rather than simply taking something
at face value, sometimes in an attempt to make something we believe is
great greater (not necessarily a conscious decision), or I am sure for
The red baron:
I think it just started off as a good strategy move. You
cannot fight if you don't know how to get to your goal. When It was used
in the final battle against the buggers, I think it was just a joke that
Ender used to remind them that they are only kids, and can still have a
The red baron:
just a little thought on that "gate is down"
stuff. if the gate is down, then you are falling towards your enemy. In
millitary history, armies fight better when they have the high ground,
because they can run towards them very fast, and the other side has to run
up hill to fight them, slowing them down. Ender might be playing on the
sub-counceise (can't spell for any thing, you know, the sub-mind, like
when we sleep) so his solder's moral is boosted. Who knows?
Certainly there is a psychological advantage to perceiving
yourself as engaging in battle from higher ground.
It's a lot more than a psychological advantage. Not only
is the high ground the advantageous position for a hand-to-hand battle as
rb pointed out, but every projectile weapon from the human-thrown rock to
the Star Wars missile defense system is put in an advantageous position
the higher it is placed, both for offensive and for defensive purposes,
in that effective range and coverage are multiplied by altitude.
Commanders have always aimed to seize the high ground and are advantaged
when they have it and disadvantaged when they don't -- hence the term
"fighting an up-hill battle."