Analysis Of Aristotle And Dante Discover The Secrets Of The Universe

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Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe: A Thematic Essay
By: Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Benjamin Alire Sáenz’s coming of age novel, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is about two Mexican boys in the process of becoming friends and discovering who they really are. Aristotle Mendoza—known as Ari—is a shy boy who has never had a best friend before, and who is often lost in thought about his imprisoned brother. Dante Quintana is a happy boy with a unique perspective on life, who loves words, especially poetry. The strong theme of love runs throughout the entire novel, and one complex theme gives the idea that love will create trust, a willingness to do things you wouldn’t normally do, potential problems, and,
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This theme centers more in the middle part of this novel. For example, the writing of the letters from Dante to Ari (and occasionally Ari to Dante). Of course, this happened over a long time, but one particularly notable letter was on page 184-185. Dante wrote, “If I want to write you, then I’ll write to you. And if you don’t want to write to me, you don’t have to. You have to be who you are. And I have to be who I am. That’s the way it is.” This is important because it shows how Dante is willing to speak with no answer because he understands that Ari doesn’t like to talk as much as he does. This shows how much Dante cares about Ari because he is willing to do this and, more importantly, be understanding about Ari’s lack of response. Generally, people writing letters would want replies, but Dante knows Ari, and knows that he won’t write as much as Dante. In fact, according to Dante, the ratio of Dante:Ari letter is 7:1. This scene supports the theme because it shows how Dante is willing to do something most people wouldn’t normally do, just for Ari—also known as someone he loves. Another fairly obvious example of the theme that love makes you more willing to do things you wouldn’t do for anyone else is when Ari pushes Dante out of the way of the moving car, and the subsequent scenes at the hospital. The parts of these scenes that really drive this theme home are the recurring pleas of Ari, how he …show more content…
This theme appears more at the latter part of the novel, and is an extremely important one. One problem that love has created for Dante is his promise to not kiss Ari, even though he loves him. Ari’s promise, in return, is to not abandon Dante when someone asks him why he is friends with a gay boy, though based on his love for Dante that won’t be a hard promise to hold. It is Dante’s promise (to not kiss Ari, because Ari states “I don’t kiss boys” on page 248) that will test Dante. However, though love created this problem for Dante, it also provides a solution, or at least a way for Dante to cope with his currently unrequited feelings. The text shows that Ari is not comfortable with kissing boys right now, though he accepts Dante. It shows in the way he first hesitates when Dante comes out, the way to reminds Dante that he doesn’t like boys, and the way he reacts when they do a trial kiss. Dante knows that his best friend is not comfortable with kissing him, so he will put away his love for Ari and stick with being friends—which is still a good scenario. This is one way love both creates and solves problems. Another is the more physical problem of Ari beating Julian up. In fact, multiple problems and various solutions come from this, all stemming from love. First of all, the love Ari has for Dante pushed him to beat Julian up, since Julian and the other three boys beat Dante

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