Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe Summary and Analysis of The End of Summer


Ari wakes up in the hospital and realizes that he has broken his arm and both of his legs. His parents tell him (since he cannot remember) that he got into a car accident and was injured pushing Dante out of the way of the oncoming car. Ari is surprised, since he doesn’t remember much, but asks to see Dante so he can make sure he’s okay.

Dante has two black eyes and a broken arm, but is otherwise fine; Dante thanks Ari and starts crying, but Ari quickly brushes it off, uncomfortable with how everyone around him seems to be crying. The damage to his legs is quite extensive, so he’s in the hospital for some time. The surgeon lets him know that he’s doing well, but that even so, the recovery will take a long time.

Directly after Ari's conversation with Dr. Charles, Dante’s parents come in to thank Ari for saving Dante’s life. Despite the fact that Ari is uncomfortable, Dante’s parents make sure to express their gratitude and their love for Ari, with Mrs. Quintana telling him explicitly that she will “love him forever.” Dante calls Ari after avoiding him for some time and asks to come visit. They don’t say much, but Dante gives Ari his sketch pad, a decision which makes Ari angry because he knows that Dante would not have given it over had Ari not saved his life.

His mom tries to figure out what’s wrong, but Ari brushes her off. His dad comes to visit him every evening, but the two of them usually sit in silence, since they struggle to communicate. Dante no longer comes to visit him in the hospital, and Ari grows more and more frustrated with his limitations.

Ari’s frustration continues after he gets to go home, but Dante begins to come to visit every day, and they make an unspoken rule not to talk of the accident. (One day, Ari catches Dante tearing up about it after Dante gives him a sponge bath; Ari becomes furious.) Ari’s dad suggests that Ari get a car for his birthday, an idea which Ari would otherwise be excited by, but one that he is worried that his parents are only suggesting because they feel sorry for him.

Being an invalid continues to affect his mood and his dreams, and he begins to hate the people around him, but he makes steady progress as his junior year approaches nevertheless. As he writes in his journal, he reflects that despite his desire to discover who he was this summer, his wish hasn’t been fulfilled and he just feels even more confused than before. Dante comes over that evening and confesses that he loves Ari.

Ari is upset that Dante would say something like that out loud, but when Dante asks Ari if he hates him, he says that he doesn’t, and reassures Dante that they will be friends after Dante returns from Chicago. The day before Dante leaves, he and his parents come over to visit Ari’s family one last time. They don’t really say goodbye, but Ari still feels like the world is ending.


This is the second time that Ari has been in severely bad health this summer, but the effects of this injury are far more lasting than the previous. Although he doesn't regret what he did for Dante, it does frustrate him to be (from Ari's point of view) fawned over because of it. Because of Ari's general discomfort with displays of emotion, the crying that everyone seems to be doing around him in the wake of the accident makes him extremely uncomfortable. Moreover, Ari interprets the love people show him as a sort of weird hero-worship as opposed to love for someone who is either already important to them, as is the case with Ari's parents, or love for someone who has become important to them over the summer, as is the case for Dante and his parents.

This hatred of perceived hero-worship is demonstrated again in how angry the sketchbook makes Ari, as he feels that Dante only gave it over because he felt obligated. Over the course of this section of the novel, it becomes clear exactly how much Ari (who is understandably frustrated with his injuries and takes that out on the people around him) struggles to not only express himself but also to receive love and affection.

Though his loved ones wish to take care of him, Ari revolts against this treatment, partly because it makes him feel helpless, but also partly because he feels it's fake. Unfortunately, this does not help with Ari's communication issues, and as the summer goes on, these issues interfere with his relationships more and more, especially the one with Dante. While they do see each other every day, Ari's insistence on not talking about the accident speaks to how unwilling he is sometimes to be confrontational. Dante is the direct opposite of this, but for the most part, he cedes to Ari's wishes.

The scene where Dante gives Ari a sponge bath is likely one of the most intimate moments in the novel and represents the situations of these two characters well. Ari, in pain and limited, must rely on Dante for help and this makes him furious. In general, Ari's life is also defined by a simultaneous dislike of assistance and a deep need for it, which is where much of his anger comes from. On the flip side, Dante is quietly and patiently giving, but deeply sad and conflicted with tears running down his face: similarly, Dante's larger storyline has a lot to do with Dante's being conflicted about his love for Ari but without having that conflict stop him from giving freely. This, too, frustrates Ari.

Dante telling Ari that he loves him and Ari responding that he shouldn't have said anything is also very much in character for the two of them. Dante, open to a fault, needs Ari to know everything that is in between them. He can't stand for things to go unspoken. In contrast, Ari prefers things not to be addressed unless absolutely necessary. He asks for them not to talk about the accident, and here he tells Dante he shouldn't talk about it—not because he hates Dante or is disgusted by him, but because he can't process what Dante loving him would mean for their friendship. For Ari, if there is nothing to be done, then nothing should be said at all, especially when it comes to something like loving your best friend who is the same gender. Despite his belief that Dante should have been silent, however, Ari refuses to abandon their friendship, and it still hurts him when Dante has to leave for Chicago.