The Little Prince or Le Petit Prince was inspired by the author Antoine de Saint Exupery’s real life experience and just added fictionalized images to make it real and understandable. It became the marvelous book written for children. Sold over 140,000,000 copies worldwide into more than 250 languages and has been one of the best-selling books published ever. According to Paris-based Saint-Exupery Foundation, “The Little Prince” is the most translated book in history after The Bible. It also known as “children’s fable for adult” as it conveys profound and idealistic views in human nature and its settings. Until now, The Little Prince is still the most advisable book not only for the children but also to the adults to read.
Antoine de Saint Exupery was a French aviator and writer who became more popular with this novella, which was written in year 1943. After failing in a university preparatory school and was not able to pursue his real dream to become a naval officer. He entered into a different field which is architecture but still resulted in failures and he did not even graduated. In 1921, he started his military service and was sent to Strasbourg for training as a pilot. In 1926 he became one of the pioneers of international postal flight. Until an accident happened in 1935 wherein a sudden machine failure strike and crashed it in the Libyah Sahara desert. In four days of experiencing dehydration, there was a Bedouin on a camel discovered them and saved their lives.
The book begins with the narrator, which is the Pilot reminiscing the days when he was a six year old boy. He was trying to draw a boa constrictor and shows it to the grown-ups, but they always advise that he should stop dreaming to become an artist instead he should focus in geography, grammar, arithmetic and history. So he gave up his dream to become an artist and choose another profession which is to pilot airplanes. And whenever he met someone, he always showed his drawings of boa constrictor and asked them if they know it. But he always gets an answer of “That’s a hat”. Then he would never talk to that person about boa constrictor again. Until a plane crash accident happened in Sahara Desert and he met the little prince that asking him to draw a sheep. After three attempts and failed to draw a sheep, he decided to draw a box instead and explained that the sheep were inside of it. That was the start of their friendship.
The narrator soon found out that the little prince came from what he called his planet which is Asteroid B-612. Where there can be found a baobabs, a two active volcanoes and a flower. As each day passed, the narrator soon learned to know the flower. Its importance and the way it was treated by the prince. When the prince is about to travel onto the other planet, he found himself in the neighborhood of asteroids 325, 326, 327, 328, 329 and 330. The first of them was inhabited by a king, who was said to rule everything but the real thing is it’s completely nothing. The second planet was inhabited by a conceited man, who always think that everyone were his admirer. The third planet was inhabited by a tippler, who is not consistent with what he’s saying. The fourth planet belonged to a businessman, who is busy in counting stars and also believes that he owns them. The fifth planet was the smallest planet wherein there was just a street lamp and a lamplighter.
The little prince has thought that the lamplighter could be his friend and also because of the 1440 sunsets it has every day, but the planet is too small for them. The sixth planet was ten times larger than the last one. It was inhabited by a geographer who wrote voluminous books. He was thought as an explorer and was asked several questions in his own planet. On the latter part, the geographer advised the planet Earth as the best to visit. When the little prince arrived in on the planet earth, he first met a snake claims that through his poison he can bring the little prince back to his planet. Had talk to a three-petaled flower, climbed in to highest mountain hoping to see a human. Then he found a rose garden that made him depressed because he thought of his flower in his planet which acclaimed she’s one of a kind. He also met a fox and they became friends.
The fox made him realize what makes his flower unique is because of the way he gave importance to it. The prince continued his journey where he met the railway switchman and a merchant. He discovered lot of new things about differences of grown-ups and the children. Back to the present, the narrator experiencing dehydration and with the help of the little prince, he found a well. Later he found out that the little prince was deciding to go back to his planet for his flower through the help of the snake.
The little prince made a very sentimental farewell but the narrator refuses to leave him alone in the desert. Soon, the little prince allowed the snake to bite him and falls without making a sign. The next morning, the narrator was not able to find the body of the little prince and concluded that he must be already at his planet. The story ends with a portrait of the landscape where they have met. Making the readers engage if some day they will be in African desert, and will meet a little man with the same characteristics. That will surely be the little prince.
The Little Prince is known as a children fable and an example of allegory. Merriam Webster Dictionary defines allegory as the expression by means of symbolic fictional figures and actions of truths or generalizations about human existence. There are many symbolic fictional figures to consider in the story. First the stars, it symbolizes the feeling and emotions of humans. It also symbolizes the mystery of the universe. Secondly, the planets and the remarkable persons can be found on it. They symbolize the group of people, where different type or attitudes of grown-ups are in. Thirdly, the rose symbolizes as the comfort zone. If you won’t get out of it, you won’t discover or know a lot of important things. Fourthly, the trains which can be found in Chapter 22, it symbolizes the things how people rushed things and wasn’t able to see the importance of its existence. Lastly, the water symbolizes a spiritual fulfillment or as a completion for what supposed to be done.
The point of view in the poem is a first person, which is the pilot. But mostly focuses in narrating the story up to the end.
Still the question is, who is this book really written for? Yes, it has been said that this is good for both children and adults. But there are some ideologies might not be understandable for the children, just like the bizarre story of a little prince that fell in love with his flower. And for the adults wherein their negative perspective has been criticize. Is that what really the book for? A blogger named Erin (2008) of Goodreads said that “We are all children in adults bodies. Yes we are, don’t think we aren’t for one moment.
The fact that we WERE, indeed, children, is a huge part of each of us. It is possible to shed a few appreciative tears on every page of this book if you entertain the thought that the pilot IS The Little Prince. Maybe you won’t think that–maybe you’ll have your own take on the book—that’s the magic about it…Consider honoring the Little You that still remains, and resides within you, and read this ‘salute’ to childhood, to innocence, and to you. It just takes a ‘Little’ imagination and bravery.”
This book is made to tickle the imagination of the children as well as to show sort of the reality about grown-ups. Every story has its own moral lesson. In this story, children can have their own realization on reading it. Adults can also have their own insights about themselves.
It’s good for the children to read because of its illustration, based on an open source site Wikipedia, The Little Prince was illustrated through watercolors painted personally by Exupery. Another unknown reviewer noted that the author “Exupery chose the best illustrations… to maintain the ethereal tone he wanted his story to exude. Choosing between ambiguity and literal text and illustrations, Saint-Exupéry chose in every case to obfuscate.” Also, good for the young adults because of its humorous attack in portraying values.
The mood is first a mystery, wherein the little prince did not reveal where he comes from. It captures the imagination of the readers. Until pieces by pieces it became adventure when the little prince started to tell the story of his journey in seven planets including the Earth.
The tone of the story is much more with being regretful when the little prince left his flower alone in his planet. Curiosity in the part of the narrator; about his real identity and where did he came from. Happiness and sadness all throughout the days were the narrator and the little prince were together in the desert. But at the end, still being able to treasure the moments they have together makes each characters happy.
Philosophical approach is used because it mostly focuses in dealing with the undesirable values of grown-ups. Then a part of it is Biographical because some scenes are almost similar with the experience of the author. Example of this is the narrator’s boa constrictor drawing but grown-ups were always telling him that it’s a hat. For the author, this scene may be similar when he failed to enter in the preparatory university school and wasn’t able to pursue his dreams. Instead he ended up for being an aviator.
There is also a part of Introspective approach as cited in by Wahlig (2010), it’s a reader-response approach, where the reader takes an active role in garnering meaning or value from a text. The reader is responsible for taking an inventory of her own biases, values or assumptions prior to reading and pinpointing the ways that a text challenges or reinforces those traits. Introspective approaches also value the subjectivity of the reader’s experience and assume that an objective reading is either impossible or no more valuable than a subjective reading. It occurs when it simply engage the readers if through their own experiences in dealing with the attitude of grown-ups and will make a self realization if the book’s telling the truth towards their attitudes.
As the mostly recommended book for children, the writer executed a different type of writing or illustrating the story. Exupery stated on page 19, chapter 4 of the Little Prince: “Figures are a matter of indifference. I should have liked to begin this story in the fashion of the fairy-tales. I should have like to say “Once upon a time there was a little prince who lived on a planet that was scarcely any bigger than himself, and who had need of a sheep…” “to those who understand life, that would have given a much greater air of truth to my story.” The way he uniquely narrate the story is one factor why this became remarkable not only to the children but also to the French literature.
This book is full of symbols and meanings, but what are the moral lessons?
Valuing life as well as the little things on it is the highlight of this story. Everything we say or show to others will reflect to everyone’s who’s involved until the end. Just like what happened to the narrator of the story, he wanted to be an artist and also tried to show his drawings numbers one and two to the grown-ups of a boa constrictor. But he always gets a wrong interpretation and insisting him not to pursue his dream of being an artist instead focus on grammar, arithmetic, geography and history.
The negative side of it reflected when he became a pilot, and someone asked him to draw a sheep. He did not know how to draw anything aside from boa constrictor since he stopped to draw when he failed about his boa constrictor. Also in reality, the way how people look more in to the physical appearance than to the inner side. Like on Chapter 4, where there was a Turkish astronomer in 1909 in a Turkish costume. Nobody believed on what he said about asteroid B-612 because of his look. And when he tried to present it again in European costume, everybody accepted his report.
“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to eye.”
Grown-ups are indeed so much like that, for them figures are more important than its meaning. The interpretation or understanding of the story will always depend on how it will touch one’s heart.
* Adamson, Thomas Little Prince’ discovery offers new insight into classic book, The Times Tribune May 2012 * De Saint- Exupery, Antoine, The Little Prince, B. Jain Publishers (P) Ltd. © * Goodreads, The Little Prince
* Wahlig, Hannah, Types of Approaches in Literary Analysis, http://www.ehow.com/info_8368198_types-approaches-literary-analysis.html * Wikipedia, Antoine De Saint-Exupery http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antoine_De_Saint_Exupery * Wikipedia, The