Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe Literary Elements


Young-Adult Fiction

Setting and Context

El Paso, Texas, 1997

Narrator and Point of View

The story is told in the first-person limited, from Ari's point of view.

Tone and Mood

Frustration and anger; coming of age and getting to know oneself; hopeful and romantic

Protagonist and Antagonist

Ari is the story's protagonist; there is no clear antagonist; it turns out that Ari's own internal conflicts are the largest force he is battling.

Major Conflict

There is conflict between Ari and Dante about their first kiss, with Ari claiming to have felt nothing. There is also major conflict between Ari and Dante when Dante tells Gina and Susie about his accident, despite promising to tell nobody. Ari feels betrayed.


The climax of the novel comes when Ari admits that he is in love with Dante, and he kisses Dante.


Dante and Daniel are spotted kissing in an alleyway at night by a group of thugs, which foreshadows the violent attack on Dante.


Dante says that he feels some attraction when he kisses Ari, which is an understatement because he is absolutely in love with him from their first meeting.


Several incidents that happen in the Vietnam War are alluded to, both in an historical context and also to shed light on why Ari's father is so reluctant to open up about what he experienced.


Imagery in this novel mostly describes the characters in it. When we are first introduced to Dante, the author describes his chiseled physicality in great detail, and this, coupled with his classical name, enables us to visualize a young man with the appearance of a statue or piece of art.


Dante is worried about coming out to his family, but they already know that he is gay and that he is in love with Ari.


There is a parallel between Aunt Ophelia's sexuality and her nephew's.

Metonymy and Synecdoche