At this point in the novel summer has ended and Ari and Dante have gone their separate ways. Dante has gone off to Chicago because of his parents and Ari remains in El Paso and is starting his junior year at Austin High School. In this chapter, even though Ari has previously promised Dante they would continue to be friends after he returned from Chicago we can really see Ari’s internal struggle between trying to forget about Dante and the summer and keeping his promise to him by keeping the friendship intact.
Throughout the chapter, we can see plenty of examples of the part of Ari that is trying to forget all about Dante. Early on, there is an example that can be seen when he first returns to school and is being questioned by Susie and Gina about what happened to his legs. He tells them but instead of recounting the details of how Dante was basically his best friend he refers to him only as “some guy” (159). Is he ashamed of Dante or what? Later on, the struggle can even be seen when he writes in his journal, “I learned how to swim this summer. No, that’s not true. Someone taught me. Dante,” and then proceeds to tear out the page, showing that he doesn’t want to even think about Dante. Ari even later bluntly states, “I don’t need Dante,” showing that he is trying to forget about him, even though he is not very successful (183).
However, there is another part of Ari that continues to bring up Dante, at the same time. The fact that he even thought about Dante in the first place when writing about the summer in his journal reveals this deep down part of him knows that Dante is dear to him and that he can’t just throw away everything. He catches himself constantly thinking of Dante, as seen when he talks about how he “tried to picture Dante with short hair,” and how he “tried to imagine him kissing a girl” (177). He even dreams about Dante, so clearly there is conflict and his mind in not going to let him forget about Dante so easily.
Do you believe Ari might be ashamed of his friendship with Dante?
Why does he even read Dante’s letters if he is possibly trying to forget about him?
How do you think Ari reacted after reading the letter from Dante’s sexuality?