Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

By benjamin alire saenz.

  • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe Summary

The book opens with "The Different Rules of Summer," in which we meet both boys for the first time. It is 1987, and Aristotle "Ari" Mendoza does not know what on earth he is going to do with himself all summer. He lives with his family but feels disconnected from them. He has two older sisters, but they have moved out already. His older brother is in prison and nobody is allowed to mention his name. This is a family that clams up about things they don't want to think about; Ari's father is a Vietnam veteran but he won't talk about his experiences in the war either. Ari is so desperate to get out of the house that he goes to the community swimming pool to hang out, which would be a normal teen boy thing to do, except for the fact that he can't swim.

At the pool, he meets a boy named Dante Quintana . Dante is a talented swimmer and he offers to teach Ari how to swim. They become fast friends, and bond over their classical names. Ari is fascinated by Dante, and a little in awe of him because he swims so well and knows so much about art and literature. Like Ari, Dante is Mexican American and this leaves him in a permanent state of ambivalence because he doesn't know how to embrace his Mexican heritage and his American nationality at the same time. Dante's family members are close-knit and openly affectionate towards each other, which astounds Ari because his family is completely the opposite.

Ari gets a terrible case of the flu and begins to have some strange and terrifying dreams in his feverish state. In one dream it is pouring down with rain, he is alone and he can't find Dante or his father even though he is searching everywhere for them. He also dreams about his brother who is in prison. In his dream, his brother is standing across from him on the other side of the river and Ari is shouting to him that he wants him to come back home. Even though he recovers from the flu, Ari continues to have the same kind of dreams, which are all dreams in which he is on his own and abandoned by the people he cares about.

Dante tells Ari that he and his family are moving to Chicago for a little while because his dad has been offered a new job there. That same day, the boys try to rescue a bird that is lying injured in the middle of the street. Dante is almost hit by a car that comes speeding around the corner, but Ari pushes him out of harm's way, getting hit by the car himself, and becoming very seriously injured. Both of his arms and one of his legs are broken and in casts. Dante feels overwhelmed by guilt because he has barely a scratch on him, thanks to Ari. Ari's accident does have one surprising and positive side effect, though: the Mendozas and the Quintanas become close as families, and both of the boys' mothers talk regularly about their sons. Dante begins therapy to help him come to terms with the accident and to try to work through his feelings of guilt.

Ari, meanwhile, is becoming an angry young man. When Dante gives him his sketchbook to look at—a large gesture since he never allows anyone to look at it—Ari is furious because he thinks Dante is only being nice to him to assuage his own guilt. He also refuses to consider therapy or counselling. He tells his mother that he will start talking about his feelings when she starts talking about hers, and that starts with talking about his brother. Ari is also surprised when his accident proves to be a bonding experience between him and his remote, quiet father. His dad visits him every evening and they read together, which Ari believes is the equivalent of other fathers and sons talking to each other.

Ari's father wants to buy Ari a car for his birthday, and Ari requests a beat-up old pick up which he loves. He's becoming more independent again and less reliant on others to do simple things like help him bathe and write things down. This makes his spirits rise, but he is still dreading the upcoming school year because Dante will be in Chicago, and he will be friendless again. Dante confesses to Ari that more than anything else in the world he loves swimming and Ari, but Ari is a little freaked out by this admission and tells him that he shouldn't talk like that.

School starts; Ari doesn't want to talk about his accident, but finds that his female classmates, in particular, can be relentless in asking for details and information. The chief offenders in this are Gina Navarro and Susie Byrd, who both seem to like him a lot, but Ari is not interested in them because he has an obsessional crush on a girl called Illeana, and all he can think about is kissing her.

As promised, Dante keeps in touch. His letters tell of a social whirlwind of a life in Chicago where he's been going to lots of parties and has tried marijuana, alcohol and kissing girls. He has also enjoyed Chicago's culture and writes of visits to the Art Institute and seeing his favorite paintings. A few letters into his Chicago stay and he confesses that although he's been kissing lots of girls he likes kissing boys a lot more. When Ari finally gets the cast taken off his leg, he walks by Dante's house, where he finds a stray dog that he calls Legs. Without Dante, he finds a routine very quickly, consisting mostly of driving lessons and running with his dog. He is also trying to find out as much as he can about his brother at the library, because nobody will tell him anything about him. He gets a part-time job in a burger restaurant. He keeps a journal and writes every single thing down.

Christmas brings a surprising gift. Ari finds an envelope with "Bernardo" written on it and immediately knows that the answers to all of his questions about his brother are to be found inside, which makes him afraid to open it.

New Year's Eve comes, and finally Ari gets his first kiss from Illeana, but it's a short-lived relationship because she tells him that she already has a boyfriend, and he is in a gang. Later Ari learns that she has dropped out of school because she's pregnant and has to get married to the boy in the gang she had told him about.

Dante tells Ari in his next letter that he still likes to kiss boys. He's worried what his parents will think and say when they find out.

Finally, the last day of school comes, and Ari celebrates by getting drunk in the desert with Gina and Susie . He has secured a job at the Chamber of Commerce for the summer, but when Dante returns, the boys pick up their close friendship exactly where they had left off. Dante tells him that his mom is pregnant, which he is relieved about because if she has a boy then he can grow up to be attracted to women, get married, and have a child, which would definitely take the pressure off of Dante. Ari tells Dante he has his full support, always, but he doesn't want to kiss him. However, he admits to Ari that he hasn't actually kissed another boy, he just wants to. He wants to kiss Ari just to see what it feels like, and although he doesn't really want to go along with this experiment, Ari agrees. Afterward, he claims that he didn't feel anything different or special at all, but Dante is upset by this. He did feel something and this confirms that he really does have feelings for Ari that go beyond friendship.

Ari is discovering that his parents are quite different from how he had thought of them. His Aunt Ophelia has a stroke and passes away, and when they arrive at her house, Ari can remember living with her as a small child. When he asks his father about this, his father is surprisingly forthcoming with information, and tells him that he lived with Aunt Ophelia when his brother was on trial. His mom found it so stressful that she had a nervous breakdown, and Ophelia looked after Ari until his mother was able to take care of him again. At the funeral, Ari realizes they are are the only family members there, and his parents reveal that Aunt Ophelia was shunned by the rest of the family because she was gay, and lived with another woman. They cannot believe she is being judged like this and it upsets them very much to see a good person marginalized for their sexuality. On the way home from the funeral they finally tell Ari about his brother.

Bernardo was arrested for murder. When he was fifteen he paid a hooker for sex. She turned out to be he; when Bernardo found out he had just had sex with a trans person he was enraged and killed the prostitute with his bare hands. He received a life sentence.

When they arrive home, Dante's father is waiting for them to tell them that Dante is in the hospital after being beaten up by a group of thugs who saw him kissing Daniel , a boy from his place of work. Ari goes to the pharmacy and confronts Daniel who eventually tells him the names of the thugs who beat up Dante. He goes to the body shop where Daniel says they work and beats up a young man called Julian in retaliation. He almost gets in a lot of trouble for this, but his father stands by him and gets him out of it. His mother is worried that he is going to turn out like Bernardo and that he is developing a violent streak, or a hateful streak, but when he explains that he only beat up Julian because he had attacked Dante for his sexuality, she understands, and seems to also see something in Ari that he has yet to see in himself.

Mr. Quintana asks Ari if he has any idea why Dante was beaten up. Ari outs Dante to his father, and then explains that Dante hadn't come out to his parents yet because he was worried how they might react. The Quintanas are entirely supportive and Mr. Quintana tells Ari he had already guessed that Dante was gay, because he sees the way he looks at Ari. Mrs Quintana is already sure that Dante is in love with Ari. Ari admits that this used to be true, but that Dante has moved on and is infatuated with Daniel.

Daniel begins to visit Dante at his house when he is released from the hospital, which makes Ari angry, since Daniel was nowhere to be seen whilst Dante was getting beaten up. Dante tells Ari that when he is kissing Daniel he closes his eyes and pictures Ari instead. He is very hurt when Ari rebuffs him.

The new openness in Ari's family is rubbing off on his parents. His mother makes his father tell Ari about the experiences in the Vietnam War that have haunted him his entire life. Mr. Mendoza then tells Ari to stop running away from the fact that Dante is in love with him; they all know it's true, and that Ari is running away from the fact he loves Dante in the same way. Ari is ashamed of loving another man but his parents are proud of him, and of the genuine and true love that he already shows for Dante. Dante goes bowling with Ari and his parents that night, and afterwards, Dante tells Ari they can't be friends anymore, because being "just friends" is too difficult for him. Ari admits he lied when he said their kiss did nothing for him and suggests that Dante kisses him again. Dante refuses. He wants Ari to initiate the kiss instead, and Ari does, without missing a beat.

Ari realizes he was looking for the secrets of the universe outside of himself but had the answers within him all the time. He has been in love with Dante since the moment they met, but was afraid of his feelings and like the rest of his family, put them away and hid from them.

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Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe Questions and Answers

The Question and Answer section for Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is a great resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.

what does art mean to ari? to his father? why?

During his time in Chicago, Dante (as he reveals in his letters) frequently visits the Art Institute of Chicago, a world-class art gallery. There he becomes emotionally attached to two paintings which represent key aspects of his life:...

What do we learn about Bernardo’s tragedy . Do you think Ari and his brother Bernardo might be similar in some ways? If so, how and in what ways?

Considering that we never see Bernardo, who is Ari's brother, in person, he is a surprisingly important character in the novel. His absence is felt strongly by Ari who feels that he is missing out on an older brother and also wants to know the...

Why is Dante so important in the novel?

Dante differs from Ari in that he knows he is gay and although he questions whether he prefers kissing boys or kissing girls, he in his heart already knows the answer. Dante is in love with Ari but unlike his friend does not try to deny this. He...

Study Guide for Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe study guide contains a biography of Benjamin Alire Saenz, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.

  • About Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
  • Character List

Essays for Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz.

  • Sexuality and Culture in 'The House on Mango Street' and 'Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe'

Lesson Plan for Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

  • About the Author
  • Study Objectives
  • Common Core Standards
  • Introduction to Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
  • Relationship to Other Books
  • Bringing in Technology
  • Notes to the Teacher
  • Related Links
  • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe Bibliography

Wikipedia Entries for Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

  • Introduction
  • Critical reception
  • Awards and honors

aristotle and dante essay questions

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15 book club questions for aristotle and dante discover the secrets of the universe.

aristotle and dante essay questions

There are hundreds of books to read and millions of conversations to have based on those books. However, we are making sure that you pick the best books for your book club meeting!

We have been giving tips on how to pick books and how to drive your book clubs . However, this post is another curated book club read for you and your friends!

So if you need to know how to find book club questions for your upcoming event, then you are in the right place!   Check this General Book Club Questions for  Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe! 

Now, keep in mind that these are 15 book club questions everyone can answer, but if you want some extra help, we have the answered guide available in our  Ko-Fi Subscription !  We encourage you to review the full essay for a better understanding of the novel.

Technical Questions

aristotle and dante essay questions

  • What is the meaning of the desert in the novel?
  • What is the meaning of the rain in the novel?
  • Based on the previous question, what do they mean together?
  • What is the meaning of running naked during a rainstorm in the desert for Ari and Dante?
  • What does Dante’s hate for shoes mean?
  • Ari says “sometimes pain was like a storm that came out of the nowhere”, so what is the meaning of the storm in the novel?
  • Because he is living a life his parents want him to live. he is not living his truth nor life just yet)

Discussion Questions

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

  • “My life is someone else’s idea” . From this quote, what does Aristotle mean? Whose life is he living?
  • Ari says that he had spent all this time trying to discover the secrets of the universe, of his own body and heart. What does it mean?
  • Ari dreams that he runs over Dante with his car when he is looking at a girl. What is the meaning of the dream?
  • What is the meaning of the envelope where Ari’s brother’s information is? Why is that ripping it open will ripped him open too?

Gender study / Queer questions

  • There is a phrase: “Not talking makes you lonely”. Who could have said it? And is that a trait of toxic masculinity? Why?
  • Why is silence so important and powerful in the novel? Are those traits of masculinity? 
  • What is to be gay and not fit with other men? Why do gay people do not feel comfortable or do not fit in with straight men?
  • Based on the quote “Keep it inside” referring to their struggles and emotions. What is it about man and feelings or emotions? 

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Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe Lesson Plans for Teachers

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Teaching Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

The Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe lesson plan contains a variety of teaching materials that cater to all learning styles. Inside you'll find 30 Daily Lessons, 20 Fun Activities, 180 Multiple Choice Questions, 60 Short Essay Questions, 20 Essay Questions, Quizzes/Homework Assignments, Tests, and more. The lessons and activities will help students gain an intimate understanding of the text, while the tests and quizzes will help you evaluate how well the students have grasped the material. View a free sample

Target Grade: 7th-12th (Middle School and High School)

Length of Lesson Plan: Approximately 124 pages. Page count is estimated at 300 words per page. Length will vary depending on format viewed.

Browse The Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe Lesson Plan:

Full Lesson Plan Overview

Completely customizable.

The Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe lesson plan is downloadable in PDF and Word. The Word file is viewable with any PC or Mac and can be further adjusted if you want to mix questions around and/or add your own headers for things like "Name," "Period," and "Date." The Word file offers unlimited customizing options so that you can teach in the most efficient manner possible. Once you download the file, it is yours to keep and print for your classroom. View a FREE sample

Lesson Plan Calendars

The Lesson Plan Calendars provide daily suggestions about what to teach. They include detailed descriptions of when to assign reading, homework, in-class work, fun activities, quizzes, tests and more. Use the entire Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe calendar, or supplement it with your own curriculum ideas. Calendars cover one, two, four, and eight week units. Determine how long your Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe unit will be, then use one of the calendars provided to plan out your entire lesson.

Chapter Abstracts

Chapter abstracts are short descriptions of events that occur in each chapter of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe . They highlight major plot events and detail the important relationships and characteristics of important characters. The Chapter Abstracts can be used to review what the students have read, or to prepare the students for what they will read. Hand the abstracts out in class as a study guide, or use them as a "key" for a class discussion. They are relatively brief, but can serve to be an excellent refresher of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe for either a student or teacher.

Character and Object Descriptions

Character and Object Descriptions provide descriptions of the significant characters as well as objects and places in Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe . These can be printed out and used as an individual study guide for students, a "key" for leading a class discussion, a summary review prior to exams, or a refresher for an educator. The character and object descriptions are also used in some of the quizzes and tests in this lesson plan. The longest descriptions run about 200 words. They become shorter as the importance of the character or object declines.

Daily Lessons

This section of the lesson plan contains 30 Daily Lessons. Daily Lessons each have a specific objective and offer at least three (often more) ways to teach that objective. Lessons include classroom discussions, group and partner activities, in-class handouts, individual writing assignments, at least one homework assignment, class participation exercises and other ways to teach students about Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe in a classroom setting. You can combine daily lessons or use the ideas within them to create your own unique curriculum. They vary greatly from day to day and offer an array of creative ideas that provide many options for an educator.

Fun Classroom Activities

Fun Classroom Activities differ from Daily Lessons because they make "fun" a priority. The 20 enjoyable, interactive classroom activities that are included will help students understand Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe in fun and entertaining ways. Fun Classroom Activities include group projects, games, critical thinking activities, brainstorming sessions, writing poems, drawing or sketching, and countless other creative exercises. Many of the activities encourage students to interact with each other, be creative and think "outside of the box," and ultimately grasp key concepts from the text by "doing" rather than simply studying. Fun activities are a great way to keep students interested and engaged while still providing a deeper understanding of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe and its themes.

Essay Questions/Writing Assignments

These 20 Essay Questions/Writing Assignments can be used as essay questions on a test, or as stand-alone essay topics for a take-home or in-class writing assignment on Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe . Students should have a full understanding of the unit material in order to answer these questions. They often include multiple parts of the work and ask for a thorough analysis of the overall text. They nearly always require a substantial response. Essay responses are typically expected to be one (or more) page(s) and consist of multiple paragraphs, although it is possible to write answers more briefly. These essays are designed to challenge a student's understanding of the broad points in a work, interactions among the characters, and main points and themes of the text. But, they also cover many of the other issues specific to the work and to the world today.

Short Essay Questions

The 60 Short Essay Questions listed in this section require a one to two sentence answer. They ask students to demonstrate a deeper understanding of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by describing what they've read, rather than just recalling it. The short essay questions evaluate not only whether students have read the material, but also how well they understand and can apply it. They require more thought than multiple choice questions, but are shorter than the essay questions.

Multiple Choice Questions

The 180 Multiple Choice Questions in this lesson plan will test a student's recall and understanding of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe . Use these questions for quizzes, homework assignments or tests. The questions are broken out into sections, so they focus on specific chapters within Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe . This allows you to test and review the book as you proceed through the unit. Typically, there are 5-15 questions per chapter, act or section.

Evaluation Forms

Use the Oral Reading Evaluation Form when students are reading aloud in class. Pass the forms out before you assign reading, so students will know what to expect. You can use the forms to provide general feedback on audibility, pronunciation, articulation, expression and rate of speech. You can use this form to grade students, or simply comment on their progress.

Use the Writing Evaluation Form when you're grading student essays. This will help you establish uniform criteria for grading essays even though students may be writing about different aspects of the material. By following this form you will be able to evaluate the thesis, organization, supporting arguments, paragraph transitions, grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc. of each student's essay.

Quizzes/Homework Assignments

The Quizzes/Homework Assignments are worksheets that can be used in a variety of ways. They pull questions from the multiple choice and short essay sections, the character and object descriptions, and the chapter abstracts to create worksheets that can be used for pop quizzes, in-class assignments and homework. Periodic homework assignments and quizzes are a great way to encourage students to stay on top of their assigned reading. They can also help you determine which concepts and ideas your class grasps and which they need more guidance on. By pulling from the different sections of the lesson plan, quizzes and homework assignments offer a comprehensive review of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe in manageable increments that are less substantial than a full blown test.

Use the Test Summary page to determine which pre-made test is most relevant to your students' learning styles. This lesson plan provides both full unit tests and mid-unit tests. You can choose from several tests that include differing combinations of multiple choice questions, short answer questions, short essay questions, full essay questions, character and object matching, etc. Some of the tests are designed to be more difficult than others. Some have essay questions, while others are limited to short-response questions, like multiple choice, matching and short answer questions. If you don't find the combination of questions that best suits your class, you can also create your own test on Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe .

Create Your Own Quiz or Test

You have the option to Create Your Own Quiz or Test. If you want to integrate questions you've developed for your curriculum with the questions in this lesson plan, or you simply want to create a unique test or quiz from the questions this lesson plan offers, it's easy to do. Cut and paste the information from the Create Your Own Quiz or Test page into a Word document to get started. Scroll through the sections of the lesson plan that most interest you and cut and paste the exact questions you want to use into your new, personalized Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe lesson plan.

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Dante’s Inferno: a Historical Tapestry Woven with Political Threads

This essay about Dante’s Inferno explores the historical context and political influences behind the creation of this iconic literary work. It discusses Dante’s upbringing in turbulent Florence, his exile, and the blending of classical literature with Christian theology in his portrayal of Hell. Through vivid imagery and moral allegory, Dante confronts the complexities of the human condition, inviting readers to contemplate themes of sin, redemption, and divine justice. The summary encapsulates the essay’s focus on the enduring relevance of Dante’s vision and its profound impact on Western literature.

How it works

Dante Alighieri’s “Inferno” stands as a testament to the intricate interplay between literature and politics in medieval Italy. Born amidst the turbulence of 13th-century Florence, Dante was not merely a poet but a keen observer of the societal upheaval that shaped his era. It was against this backdrop of political intrigue and religious fervor that Dante embarked on his literary odyssey, weaving together a narrative that transcended the boundaries of time and space.

The genesis of “Inferno” can be traced back to Dante’s formative years, where he was exposed to the rich tapestry of classical literature and philosophical thought.

Drawing inspiration from the works of Virgil, Aristotle, and St. Augustine, Dante forged his own unique vision of the afterlife, blending elements of Christian theology with classical mythology. Yet, it was his own experiences as a Florentine exile that imbued “Inferno” with a sense of urgency and poignancy.

Exiled from his beloved Florence in 1302 due to his political allegiances, Dante found himself adrift in a sea of uncertainty, grappling with questions of identity and belonging. It was during this period of exile that Dante began to conceive of a grand literary project that would encapsulate his vision of the divine order. “Inferno,” the first installment of what would later be known as “The Divine Comedy,” emerged from Dante’s fertile imagination as a reflection of his own spiritual and existential journey.

While the exact date of “Inferno’s” composition remains elusive, scholars have pieced together clues from Dante’s own writings and historical records to reconstruct the timeline of its creation. References to contemporary events and political figures within the poem provide valuable insights into the social and cultural milieu of Dante’s time, allowing readers to glimpse into the mind of the poet as he grappled with the complexities of the human condition.

Central to Dante’s conception of “Inferno” is the notion of divine justice and the consequences of human folly. Through a series of vividly rendered circles of Hell, Dante explores the various manifestations of sin and its repercussions on the soul. From the lustful to the fraudulent, each circle serves as a moral allegory, inviting readers to contemplate their own actions and the implications thereof.

Yet, “Inferno” is not merely a moral treatise but a work of profound psychological insight, delving into the depths of the human psyche with unparalleled clarity. Through his portrayal of damned souls and infernal landscapes, Dante confronts the darkest aspects of human nature with unflinching honesty, forcing readers to confront their own inner demons.

As we journey through the depths of Hell with Dante as our guide, we are confronted with the harsh realities of the human condition and the consequences of our choices. Yet, amidst the despair and suffering, there is also redemption to be found, as Dante himself discovers on his journey through Purgatory and Paradise. It is this message of hope and renewal that resonates with readers across centuries, reminding us that even in the darkest of times, there is always the possibility of redemption.

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Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Guide cover image

98 pages • 3 hours read

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more. For select classroom titles, we also provide Teaching Guides with discussion and quiz questions to prompt student engagement.

Before You Read

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 1, Chapters 1-6

Part 1, Chapters 7-12

Part 4, Chapters 1-15

Part 4, Chapters 16-31

Part 6, Chapters 1-10

Part 6, Chapters 11-21

Character Analysis

Symbols & Motifs

Important Quotes

Essay Topics

Summary and Study Guide

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz is a young adult fiction novel published in 2012. The novel won a Lambda Literary Award, a Pura Belpre Award, and a Stonewall Book Award. It was also named a Printz Honor Book. Told from a first-person point of view , the book is a work of realistic fiction set in El Paso, Texas, in the late 1980s.

Plot Summary

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Aristotle “Ari” Mendoza is the main character in this coming-of-age story. He is a teenage Latino boy growing up in El Paso, Texas, and is “a mystery even to [him]self” (16). As Ari waits for his real life to begin, he broods by himself, wonders about his older brother Bernardo who is in prison, and wishes his life was different. He is desperate for guidance as he navigates the rough waters of his teenage years, but he finds no help anywhere until he meets Dante Quintana at the swimming pool. Dante is unlike anyone Ari has ever met. He reads poetry, cries over a dead bird, and shows his emotions readily. The boys help each other endure their loneliness, and in each other they discover a path toward happiness; however, they do not arrive there without overcoming many obstacles first.

When a car swerves in the street, Ari risks his life to save Dante and ends up in the hospital with broken legs. Dante moves to Chicago and the distance puts a strain on their friendship. Dante and Ari both experiment with kissing girls, but Dante realizes that he would rather kiss boys. Dante is beaten up badly by a group of boys who see him kissing another boy, and Ari comes to Dante’s defense only to realize that he loves Dante.

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As Dante teaches Ari how to be vulnerable, Ari begins to ask his parents questions he was too afraid to ask before. Aristotle discovers the answers to the questions that plague him, including why his father is so silent, and why nobody talks about his older brother, Bernardo. He realizes that the painful journey to adulthood does not insulate one from heartache, pain, or nightmares. Ari also realizes that his parents are human, a reflection of another facet of the mystery of love .

Through their friendship, Ari and Dante help each other discover the answers to difficult questions surrounding their identities. They weather the vicissitudes of first love, and Ari finally embraces his true self.

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Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Benjamin alire sáenz, ask litcharts ai: the answer to your questions, daniel quotes in aristotle and dante discover the secrets of the universe.

Identity, Ethnicity, and Masculinity Theme Icon

Sometimes, you do things and you do them not because you’re thinking but because you’re feeling. Because you’re feeling too much. And you can’t always control the things you do when you’re feeling too much. Maybe the difference between being a boy and being a man is that boys couldn’t control the awful things they sometimes felt. And men could. That afternoon, I was just a boy. Not even close to being a man.

I was a boy. A boy who went crazy. Crazy, crazy.

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  1. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe Essay Questions

    Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe Essay Questions. 1. What are the main differences between Ari and Dante? Ari and Dante are actually quite different people. Socially, Dante is everything that Ari is not. He is outgoing, confident and charming, with a large circle of friends and a great many interests, including swimming.

  2. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

    Historical Context of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. The late 1980s were busy years for both gay rights and AIDS activism, something that would've greatly affected the lives of gay teens like Ari and Dante. In 1987, when the novel begins, the Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights took place.

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    Study Guide for Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe study guide contains a biography of Benjamin Alire Saenz, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis. About Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

  4. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

    Get all the key plot points of Benjamin Alire Sáenz's Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe on one page. From the creators of SparkNotes. ... Dad answers Ari's questions and Ari visits Dante. Ari tells the Quintanas that he's not going to pay for Julian's hospital bill if Julian isn't going to pay for Dante's. Ari ...

  5. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe Essay

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  7. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

    Thanks for exploring this SuperSummary Study Guide of "Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe" by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more. For select classroom titles, we also provide Teaching Guides with ...

  8. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

    Identity, Ethnicity, and Masculinity. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe follows two teenage boys, Aristotle " Ari " and his best friend Dante, as they grow up over the course of two years in late-1980s El Paso, Texas. When the boys first meet at the local pool, they're 15 and in many ways, have no idea who they are ...

  9. PDF Aristotle and Dante Discussion Guide

    Aristotle and Dante Discussion Guide.pptx. Before Reading: to activate schema, build background knowledge, and set a purpose. Before reading, have a class discussion to activate prior knowledge about friendships and what it takes to be a good friend Frontload vocabulary (see vocabulary list) During Reading: to engage students, check for ...

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    PZ7.S1273 Ar 2012. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is a coming-of-age young adult novel by American author Benjamin Alire Sáenz which was first published February 21, 2012. Set in El Paso, Texas in 1987, the novel follows two Mexican-American teenagers, Aristotle "Ari" Mendoza and Dante Quintana, their friendship, and ...

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  14. Out of the Past: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the

    This essay explores the answers to these questions using two very different approaches and perspectives. The first portion maps out the literary, cultural, and readerly stakes in Sáenz's ... Aristotle and Dante communicate with each other during this time via lengthy, and often very touching, letters. Had the book taken place from 2007 to ...

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    Objective Exam and Essay Questions for the Young Adult Novel Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. Includes Answer Key. Essay questions are aligned with Bloom's Taxonomy. Reported resources will be reviewed by our team. Report this resource to let us know if this resource violates TPT's content guidelines.

  16. ALL-CLASS DISCUSSION BOARD #6: Aristotle & Dante

    ALL-CLASS DISCUSSION BOARD #6: Aristotle & Dante - TORDA'S SPRING 2024 TEACHING SITE. 11/28/2017. 27 Comments. This week is the first week we are reading something that is totally new to me. I look forward to thinking and writing about this new text with all of you. This week: our classroom this week is close in age as our protagonists: a ninth ...

  17. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

    Thanks for exploring this SuperSummary Study Guide of "Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe" by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more. For select classroom titles, we also provide Teaching Guides with ...

  18. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

    Dante's dad, Mr. Quintana, is openly affectionate with his son and his wife, while Mrs. Quintana is, in Dante's words, "inscrutable"—the opposite state of what Ari sees at home, and something that begins to expand his view of what family can look like. As the boys continue to grow and change over the course of the novel, Ari becomes ...

  19. Analysis Of Aristotle And Dante Discover The Secrets Of The...

    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.

  20. Dante's Inferno: a Historical Tapestry Woven with Political Threads

    Essay Example: Dante Alighieri's "Inferno" stands as a testament to the intricate interplay between literature and politics in medieval Italy. Born amidst the turbulence of 13th-century Florence, Dante was not merely a poet but a keen observer of the societal upheaval that shaped his era. ... Aristotle, and St. Augustine, Dante forged his own ...

  21. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

    Ari says that he doesn't believe in God enough to be a priest, which makes Dante laugh. Dante says it's good and smart to question and says that Ari is smart, no matter what he says to the contrary. Mr. Quintana told Dante that he's an intellectual and shouldn't be ashamed, but Ari notices that Dante looks a little sad. Dante says he ...

  22. Aristotle and Dante Essay

    Horner 1 Max Horner Mr. Card ENG1D October 11, 2019 Aristotle and Dante battle the looming stereotypes of their society "All the answers had been so close and yet I had always fought them without even knowing it."- Aristotle realizes as he comes to terms with the fact that he has fallen in love with Dante(358). The novel 'Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe ...

  23. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

    Thanks for exploring this SuperSummary Study Guide of "Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe" by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more. For select classroom titles, we also provide Teaching Guides with ...

  24. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

    Daniel Character Analysis. Next. Symbols. A gay boy in El Paso who is Dante 's kissing partner. He and Dante meet at the drugstore where they both work. Though Dante insists to Ari that Daniel is attractive and nice, Ari finds Daniel a despicable and cowardly person—he ran when Julian and his cronies tried to attack him and Dante, and he ...