The Little Prince
The Little Prince
The narrator, the pilot, crashes in the Sahara desert. He attempts to fix his engine, knowing that he only has a limited supply of water. As he begins to work on the engine, however, he hears a small voice asking him to draw a sheep. The narrator turns around to meet the little prince, and after making several attempts at drawing the sheep, he settles on sketching a box—he tells the little prince that the box contains a sheep, and to the pilot’s astonishment, the little prince is delighted. The pilot begins to learn more about the little prince, discovering that he comes from the asteroid known as B-612. Eventually, he begins to learn other details of the little prince’s planet as well, including the fact that baobab trees are a major menace and that the object of the little prince’s affection is a rose. This rose is very vain, however, and tells lies, making the little prince unhappy. He decides that he cannot trust her anymore and leaves his planet. The little prince first encounters a king who claims to rule over everything, including the stars. He has no subjects on his own planet to rule, however, and the little prince grows bored and leaves.
The second person the little prince meets is a conceited man who enjoys applause and admiration. The third is atippler who says that he drinks to forget that he is ashamed of drinking. The fourth grownup is abusinessman who is busy counting the stars so that he may own them. At this point, the little prince finds all the grownups very strange, and he continues onto the planet of thelamplighter, who lights a lamp on his planet when night falls and puts it out again when the sun rises. The little prince finds the lamplighter to be the least ridiculous of all the grownups because he thinks of something other than himself. The little prince then comes across a geographer who tells the little prince that his rose is “ephemeral,” or in other words, “in danger of speedy disappearance.” This alarms the little prince and makes him regret leaving his rose. Nevertheless, he continues on his journey to the planet Earth. The little prince lands in the middle of the Sahara desert, where he encounters a snake. The snake speaks in riddles, hinting that he has a powerful poison that can take the little prince back to his planet.
The little prince continues to travel on Earth, however, eventually discovering a bed of roses, all identical to his own rose on asteroid B-612, making him question his own rose’s contention that it is unique. He then meets a fox, who teaches the little prince what it means to tame—or to establish ties—with another. The little prince realizes that his rose has tamed him, making her unique in the universe, even if she’s outwardly identical to all the other roses on Earth. The little prince goes on to meet a railway switchman and a merchant before returning to the Sahara where he meets the pilot. By the end of his story, the little prince and the pilot are both very thirsty, and they decide to walk and find water. They discover a well around daybreak, and together they savor the drink as well as their time together.
The little prince explains that the next day is the anniversary of his descent to Earth. He sends the pilot away to fix his plane and tells him to come meet him at the same spot the following evening. The pilot fixes his engine and returns the next evening to find the little prince conversing with the poisonous snake. The little prince warns the pilot that he must return to his planet and that it will “look a little as if I were dying.” The little prince allows the snake to poison him, and he falls gently to the sand. The narrator is reassured by the fact that the little prince’s body is gone the following day and believes that it means he made it back to asteroid B-612. He worries, however, whether the sheep he drew will eat the prince’s rose.
The king – asteroid B 325
In the book, the Little Prince meets a king who claims to rule over all with absolute power. His only “subject”, however, is an old rat that he hears at night. The king exercises his power over the sun by ordering it to set – but only at sunset. In order not to lose face, this oddity of a king gives only “reasonable” orders (“I order you to sit down”) – as good a way as any to satisfy his thirst for power. The Little Prince is not fooled, however, and sees the monarch as no more than another odd grown-up. The conceited man – asteroid B 326
Wearing a hat as showy as it is ridiculous, the conceited man sees himself as the handsomest and the most intelligent man on his tiny planet. The Little Prince reminds the conceited man that he is, in fact, all alone on his planet, but still the conceited man wishes to be admired and applauded. The Little Prince is perplexed by such insistent vanity: “Grown-ups are really very odd,” he says to himself. The drunkard –asteroid B 327
He lives alone with his collection of bottles and spends his time drinking to forget that he is ashamed of drinking. To the Little Prince, it is clear that the drunkard is deeply unhappy, and he wants to help. The drunkard, however, withdraws into sadness and silence. The Little Prince is left perplexed by this adult who sees no way out of his misery. The businessman – asteroid B 328
The businessman is a large gentleman who is so very busy that he does not even have time to light his cigarette. He spends his time counting stars, which he claims to own. Then he writes down the numbers on a piece of paper that he puts in the bank. The Little Prince tries to make him see that he is wasting his life and that “owning” means being useful to what you own. He speaks of his rose, which he waters and protects. The businessman is left speechless, and the Little Prince once again finds grown-ups to be very disappointing. The lamplighter – asteroid B 329
The Little Prince is initially rather charmed by this character. His job is a useful one: to light the lamp at sunset. But the speed of rotation of the lamplighter’s planet is increasing all the time, and the poor lamplighter is forever putting out his lamp and immediately lighting it again. “Orders are orders,” says the lamplighter to the Little Prince who, in spite of everything, can only admire the effort this grown-up puts into being faithful to his orders. The geographer – Asteroid B 330
The geographer is an old gentleman who writes down, in thick books, the information brought to him by explorers. His planet is vast and magnificent, but he has no way of knowing whether it has rivers and mountains because “the geographer is far too important to waste his time browsing around”. The geographer is someone who needs the stories of others in order to know things; for the Little Prince, on the other hand, it takes effort to know things. It is the geographer who advises the Little Prince to visit Earth because, he says, it has “a good reputation”. The narrator
The narrator is really the author, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. The reader hears his voice throughout the book as he relates the story of the Little Prince and of his own friendship with him. The narrator says plainly that he is a romantic who does not like adults, whom he finds too practical; instead, he prefers children, whom he finds natural and delightful. The narrator writes this story of his encounter with the Little Prince in order to deal with the sorrow of losing his precious friend. The Little Prince
The novel is named after the Little Prince, who is a mystical and loveable person. He is the sole inhabitant of a small planet, which the narrator refers to as B-612. The Prince leaves his planet to visit other places and finally lands on Earth. In the Sahara Desert, he meets the narrator and befriends him. The narrator tells of his encounter with the Prince and also relates the adventures of the Prince on the other asteroids that the latter has visited. The fox
The Little Prince meets the fox in the desert. The fox is a wise creature, which teaches the Prince about the essence of life. After they become friends, the fox asks the Little Prince to ‘tame him, which is what the latter does. The fox meets the Prince when the latter is disappointed and lonely. He has just seen the garden of roses and realized that his flower is common, not unique and valuable as he had imagined. The fox, however, teaches the Prince that one cannot judge another by seeing with the eyes; instead, one has to see and judge with the heart. As a result, the Little Prince realizes that his flower is really very special, for he has loved and cared for it. The fox asks the Little Prince to “tame” him. He explains that one is tamed by being loved and valued. Since the Prince invests time and energy into the fox, the animal does become tame, and a close friendship develops between the two of them. The Little Prince always remembers the teachings of the fox, who proves that he is wise indeed.
The Turkish Astronomer
The narrator mentions the Turkish astronomer in the fourth chapter. The narrator believes that the planet from which the Little Prince has come is the asteroid known as B-612. A Turkish astronomer first sees this asteroid through the telescope in 1909. The Little Prince’s flower
On the Little Prince’s planet, the flowers are usually very simple; but one day, from a seed blown from afar, a new flower comes up that is very beautiful, but also very vain. The Prince begins to doubt the flower’s credibility and finally leaves his planet to escape the company of the flower. The Snake
The first living thing that the Prince encounters on the planet Earth is a snake. The snake tells him that it gets a little lonely among men. The Prince thinks that the snake is very weak, but the snake tells him that he can kill a person. The snake also says that he can solve all kinds of riddles. The Desert Flower
The Prince meets a flower in the desert. It tells him that there are only six or seven men in existence and that one never knows where to find them. According to the flower, the wind blows the men away. Garden of Roses
The Prince meets a garden of roses on the planet Earth. He is overcome with sadness on seeing them because there are five thousand of them in a single garden. His flower has told him that it was the only one of its kind in the universe. He cries when he realizes that his flower has lied to him. Railway Switchman
The Prince meets the railway switchman on Earth. The switchman tells the Prince that he sorts out travelers and sends off the trains that carry them. The switchman also says that no one is ever satisfied with his position. During his conversation with the switchman, the Prince tells him that only the children know what they are looking for. Merchant
The Prince asks the merchant why he sells pills that quench thirst. The merchant answers that he sells them because they save a lot of time. The Prince feels that he would rather use that time to walk at leisure toward a spring of fresh water.
The planet he comes from is classified as Asteroid B-612. it is barely larger than a house. Its only inhabitants are three small volcanoes (one is supposedly dormant), some plants called baobabs (not sure what those are) and a rose. 3. He begins to doubt the rose’s sincerity
In particular, it is a story that teaches us that a return to childhood allows us to discover the essential in life that is invisible to the eye but not the heart. It reminds us the infinite value of each moment and the importance of living in the present. Ravoux argues that Saint-Exupéry wrote The Little Prince as an answer to the existential belief that being passionate in life is pointless since death is certain. He goes on to explain Saint-Exupéry’s real life experiences that inspired the story, as well as the influences of Descartes and Plato’s work on his philosophies. With a brief chapter by chapter analysis, Ravoux offers insight into this classic tale adored around the world.
In The Little Prince, Saint-Exupéry explains the importance of seeing the whole truth in order to find beauty. He believes that visible things are only shells that hint at the real worth hidden inside. He points out that man has not learned to look beneath the surface, or perhaps, has forgotten how to do so. Because adults never look inside, they will never know themselves or others. All his life, Saint-Exupéry thought that grown-ups cared mostly about inconsequential matters, such as golf and neckties. When they talked about important matters, they always became dull and boring. They seemed afraid to open up their hearts to the real issues of life; instead, they chose to function on a surface level. In the book, the fox teaches that one can see only what is important in life by looking with the heart. Because of this lesson, Saint-Exupéry leaves the desert as a different person. He has accepted the Little Prince’s thought that “’the stars are beautiful because of a flower that cannot be seen.” In essence, the fox’s lesson is about how to love, a most important lesson for everybody to learn.
The fox points out that it is the time that one “wastes” on someone or something that makes it important. The fox also tells the readers that love can overcome existentialism: “One only knows the things that one tames…. Men buy things already made in the stores. But as there are no stores where friends can be bought, men no longer have friends.” A human must earn a friendship, not buy it. Finally, Saint-Exupéry explains how all joy and pleasure must be earned, not given or received. As an example, he shows the joy that the Little Prince and the pilot feel when they taste the water from the well. Its sweetness comes from their journey under the stars and the work of the pilot’s arms making the pulley sing. In the end, the Little Prince again experiences a new joy. Leaving his “shell” behind, he has gone to the most beautiful place he can imagine — his star, which is his love; he has returned to his own little heaven. Minor Themes
Saint-Exupéry scorns man’s obsession with the wrong things, such as wealth, power, and technology; he uses the King, the Businessman, and the Lamplighter to highlight this theme. The king puts a great deal of importance into being obeyed, even though he orders only what would happen anyway. The businessman takes great pride in owning all the stars, but he is too busy counting them to gain any pleasure from their beauty. The Little Prince tries to teach him the pointlessness of his “property.” The Little Prince also scorns the Lamplighter’s fascination with science and technology. He is so caught up in the importance of lighting his lamp, that he misses what is important in life. The need to have faith is another minor theme in the book. The Little Prince arrives on the Earth during a spiritually troubled phase and stays until he has resolved his confusions. During his stay, he teaches the narrator the importance of having faith and belief. Many critics have called the Little Prince a Christ-figure, for he is described as being free of sin. He also believes in a life after death. At the end of the book, he returns to his star, his heaven.
While seeming to speak to children, the author of The Little Prince addresses us all and the text can be read at many different and surprising levels of meaning, from fairy tale to philosophical treatise. Understanding The Little Prince
« What is essential is invisible to the eye », says the fox. The little prince repeats the phrase to himself so as to be sure to remember, a way for the author to underline its importance to an understanding of the story. He had already given a hint in the beginning of the story with his drawings of the boa « from the inside » and « from the outside », as an indication that everything, every being, conceals within itself a treasure, a mystery we must discover. Beyond appearances, there is the spirit that can only be discovered with the heart. Spirit
The spirit is what makes things unique. It is the culmination of our choices, of our efforts, of friendship and of love. A thousand roses in a garden resemble the one that the little prince left behind on his planet, but that rose is unique because she is the one he has watered, she is the one he has protected, because he has « tamed » her, to quote the fox, who added: « for what you have tamed, you become responsible forever ». The spirit establishes ties. Because of it, the world is peopled with signs: the cornfield recalls the golden hair of the little prince, the stars are little bells that echo his laugh, the sky is full of planets on which ancient wells squeak as water is drawn up because on one of those planets there lives an aviator who found such a well in the desert. The true life is that of the spirit which, at need, can dispense with matter, with the « shell »: in order to return to his rose, the little prince sacrifices his fleshly body, allowing the poisonous snake to bite him : « I shall look as if I were dead and it will not be true… », he says, in his last message to us. Tame, love, bid goodbye…
In the story of the Little Prince, we have all been struck by the lesson learned from the fox: “If you want a friend, tame me!” (Chapter XXI). In learning this lesson, the Little Prince finally begins to understand what he feels for his rose: “I think she has tamed me…” (Chapter XXI). The Little Prince realises that by taming someone, he picks out from the general mass a being that becomes, for him, “unique in all the world”. Through these words, Saint-Exupéry wants us to understand that our eyes alone are not enough to perceive the singularity of an individual or an object. People and things are locked inside their outward appearance, and only by taming them can we begin to know and appreciate their wonderful individuality. “To be sure, an ordinary passer-by would believe that my very own rose looked just like you, but she is far more important than all of you because she is the one I have watered.
And it is she that I have placed under a glass dome. And it is she that I have sheltered behind a screen. And it is for her that I have killed the caterpillars […]. And it is she I have listened to complaining or boasting or sometimes remaining silent…” (Chapter XXI). It is by the sum of all these efforts that the Little Prince has made his rose unique in all the world, and has come to love her. It will take the Little Prince a year of travelling to understand his feelings towards the rose. To understand that the pleasure of a meeting ends in the pain of a separation. To tame another being is to accept that, some day, that being will disappear. It is the “danger of early disappearance” of his rose that plunges the Little Prince into melancholy and prompts him to let the snake bite him so that he can return to her on planet B612. « Grown-ups »
Alas, with age children lose the gift that allows them naturally to live in harmony with the spirit. They become whose only concerns are utilitarian. Trapped by the material, vulgar side of existence, victims of their own conceit, greed or intellectual laziness, judge what a man says according to the way he is dressed (as in the case of the Turkish astronomer), gauge the beauty of a house by its value and think they know a young friend by how much money his father earns. Yet the child that once was is not dead: he is only buried, and an experience like that of the aviator (who is perhaps « getting a little old ») meeting The Little Prince allows that child to come back to life.
Since the spirit, which cannot be seen with the eye, is the effort to tame someone or something, to establish ties, and since it is, in essence, the element of imagination and love that we put into what we do, simply reading the text should be enough to bring it into being. As we turn the pages, the little prince becomes our friend because we spend our time on him, because we tame him. Saint-Exupéry’s tale is not a lesson but an invitation.