Ari’s Transformation

In the beginning of “Letters On a Page”, Ari’s outlook on his life is still pretty dismal and bleak. He’s just got his cast off and he’s starting school with the literal baggage of the summer, being his cast and crutches, around with him. He still keeps to himself and refuses to actively make friends, seen with attempts made by his peers Gina and Susie. On page 157, Gina even asks “you’re never going to change, are you, Ari?” Interestingly enough, Ari does change. Looking at the beginning of the part and comparing it to the end, Ari is much more content with his life. I wouldn’t say he’s at that point of happiness which he desires but he is getting there. He gets a car, a dog, and he becomes better friends with Gina and Susie. Though, all without Dante. Before, Ari’s “awakening” stemmed from Dante and his innocence, carelessness, and youth. Ari was experiencing new things and seeing a different side of life from which he was used to but the actual transformation doesn’t occur until Dante is out of the picture. Why is that? Did Ari’s perspective on Dante change after the accident? It seems like Ari still cares for Dante but there seems to be some hostility there as well seen through Ari not writing letters back and getting angry at some of the things Dante tells him in his letters. How much of his anger stems from him missing Dante and how much from him still harboring blame for the state he was in after the accident? In this part of the book Ari seems to be growing up and finally getting closer to being happy. If one sees Dante as a symbol for youth and innocence, is the fact that Ari’s changing without Dante around symbolizing him discarding his own youth for maturity?

Discussion Questions

  1. What do you think is the significance of Ari slowly transforming into a happier person without the presence of Dante?
  2. Why do you think Ari doesn’t send any letters back to Dante?

One thought on “Ari’s Transformation

  1. Ari’s transformation over those chapters was seemingly intensive. He kind of changed in terms of his overall demeanor, but not really his character. He still thinks of things in similar ways, he still feels similar anxieties, but he is growing up and also learning how to handle them. I think the author’s purpose in these passages was to demonstrate Ari’s true (or at least formative) self in a more open context. Up until that point, almost the entire story had centered around Ari and Dante. It was all about what they thought of each other and what they did together. It was kind of difficult to pin down individual characteristics. Having Ari spend that time without Dante gave the readers a better look at his interactions with many other people, on different levels and with different emotions coming through. I was glad for that time because it helped me to know who Ari was, or at least who he thought himself to be. This was an important story arch because it sets the whole stage for Dante’s return and the events that follow. Had Ari not had those formative years alone, the story would probably have been very different and we might not have gotten to know who Ari was inside.


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