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Several passages in War of the Gifts would imply that socks are worn in Battle School:

But even as a joke, it was a gift, wasn't it? Santa Claus was giving gifts all over Battle School within days.

It was more than just gifts. It was stockings. Nobody could say who started it, but after a while it seemed that the giving of every gift was accompanied by a stocking. Rolled up, hidden inside something else, but always a stocking. Nobody hung the stocking up in hopes of getting it filled, of course. It was the other way around- the stockings were being given as part of the gift.

And the recipient of the stocking found a way to wear it, whether it fit or not. Dangling from a sleeve. On a foot, but not matched with the other sock. Inside a flash suit. Sticking out of a pocket. Just for a day, the sock was worn, and then it was given back. It was the stocking more than the words now that said, This is from Santa Claus.

"Swollen?"

"I don't know yet," said Wiggin. "When I move it, it throbs."

"Bring your other leg up so I can compare ankles."

Wiggin did. Zeck pulled his shoes and socks off, despite the way Wiggin winced when he moved his left foot. The bare ankles looked exactly alike, as far as he could tell. "Doesn't look swollen."

However in Ender's Game, Ender says that they no longer wear socks:

"I want to see your fart collection," Alai said.

"I stored it in your locker. Didn't you notice?"

"I thought it was my socks."

"We don't wear socks anymore."

"Oh yeah." A reminder that they were both far from home. It took some of the fun out of having mastered a bit of navigation.

So do Battle School kids wear socks or not?

  • There is a graphic novel version of War of Gifts from Marvel. So why not look at the pictures to see? – GEdgar Nov 19 '15 at 3:02
  • IMO it have long time between the date release of two book, so Mr Card may not remember all details - he already mention this at the end in some book (not remember correctly which book) so that why he need help from forum(s) etc... to help him finish later book without too much opposite with the old one(s), but of course still have somethings not fully explain or different like this – Henry Varro Nov 20 '15 at 2:01
  • @HenryVarro Pretty sure you're referring to the afterword of Ender in Exile. The reason that I love OSC as an author is that he is willing to admit that he is not the leading authority on his books. – ibid Nov 20 '15 at 3:44
  • @GEdgar The only pictures from that comic that show socks are: postimg.org/image/46f518sez and postimg.org/image/xp0h10kyl Eaither-way, this really doesn't mean anything as it still doesn't answer why Ender's Game says that they don't wear socks. – ibid Nov 23 '15 at 20:49
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Orson Scott Card fully recognizes that there are contradictions in his books especially ones that overlap (like Ender's Game, Ender's Shadow, and A War of Gifts). He has mentioned it in multiple venues and some of these are shown in the answer to the following question: What is Orson Scott Card's position on discrepancies between various Enderverse books?.

Simply put, though, I prefer to try to fill in the gaps myself and say that the "We don't wear socks anymore." comment came after Battle School finally decided to remove socks from the uniforms after the administrations realized that could remove some more of the cultural issues that arose in A War of Gifts (even though they originally accepted the nationalist tendencies of the children); furthermore, I imagine the instructors coming up with an excuse like "they needed to same money on laundry." Either that, or socks could have been added to the uniforms later, but I like the first explanation better.

  • The incident in War of the Gifts takes place close to a year after the one in Enders Game. – ibid Dec 14 '15 at 5:47
  • Then I guess they must have been added later :P. Maybe they're part of the army uniforms and not the 1st year uniforms? – Padawan Dec 14 '15 at 6:17
  • I'll accept the answer if it has a good in-universe explanation that works. – ibid Dec 14 '15 at 17:09
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It all depends on what you mean by "in universe." In the Ender's Game movie, the students wore socks, so it's tough to consider what you consider cannon. Maybe the launchees had them and didn't wear them. I don't see anything solid in the texts, but most simple explanation is that they DID wear socks because Card himself said (in the Afterword to Ender in Exile) that later works' details always trump earlier works'. So, since A War of Gifts and the Ender's Game movie came after the Ender's Game book, they trump it.

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