The Little Prince
Though ostensibly a children's book, The Little Prince makes several profound and idealistic observations about life and human nature. For example, Saint-Exupéry tells of a fox meeting the young prince during his travels on Earth. The story's essence is contained in the lines uttered by the fox to the little prince: "One sees clearly only with the heart. What is essential is invisible to the eye." Other key thematic messages are articulated by the fox, such as: "You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed" and "It is the time you have devoted to your rose that makes your rose so important."
The little prince's home asteroid, or "planet", only the size of a house, has three volcanoes (two active, and one dormant) and a rose, among various other objects. The Prince spends his days caring for the asteroid, pulling out the baobab trees that are constantly trying to take root there. The Prince falls in love with the rose, who appears not to return his love due to her vain nature. The Prince loses his trust in the rose after she lies to him, and he grows lonely.
After he reconciles with his rose, the prince leaves to see what the rest of the universe is like. He visits six other asteroids, each of which is inhabited by a foolish adult. The sixth asteroid is inhabited by a geographer, who asks the prince to describe his home. When the prince mentions the rose, the geographer explains that he does not record roses, calling them "ephemeral". The prince is shocked and hurt by this revelation. The geographer recommends that he visit the Earth. The prince comes upon a whole row of rosebushes, and becomes downcast because he thought his rose was unique. He begins to feel that he is not a great prince at all, as his planet contains only three tiny volcanoes and a flower he now thinks of as common. He lies down in the grass and weeps.
As the prince cries, a fennec fox comes across him. The prince tames the fox, who explains to him that his rose really is unique and special, because she is the one whom the prince loves. The fox also explains that, in a way, the prince has tamed the flower, and that this is why the prince now feels responsible for her. At last, a snake returns him to his home planet.
It took me a long time to learn where he came from.
The little prince, who asked me so many questions, never seemed to hear the ones I asked him.
It was from words dropped by chance that, little by little, everything was revealed to me.
The first time he saw my airplane, for instance (I shall not draw my airplane; that would be much too complicated for me), he asked me:
“What is that object?”
“That is not an object.
It is an airplane.
It is my airplane.”
And I was proud to have him learn that I could fly.
He cried out, then:
You dropped down from the sky?”
“Yes,” I answered, modestly.
That is funny!”
And the little prince broke into a lovely peal of laughter, which irritated me very much.
I like my misfortunes to be taken seriously.
Then he added:
“So you, too, come from the sky!
Which is your planet?”
At that moment I caught a gleam of light in the impenetrable mystery of his presence; and I demanded, abruptly:
“Do you come from another planet?”
But he did not reply.
He tossed his head gently, without taking his eyes from my plane:
“It is true that on that you can’t have come from very far away...”
And he sank into a reverie, which lasted a long time.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry first published The Little Prince in 1943, only a year before his Lockheed P-38 vanished over the Mediterranean during a reconnaissance mission. More than a half century later, this fable of love and loneliness has lost none of its power.
To Leon Werth
Chapter 1 —we are introduced to the narrator, a pilot, and his ideas about grown-ups
Chapter 2 —the narrator crashes in the desert and makes the acquaintance of the little prince
Chapter 3 —the narrator learns more about from where the little prince came
Chapter 4 —the narrator speculates as to which asteroid from which the little prince came
Chapter 5 —we are warned as to the dangers of the baobabs
Chapter 6 —the little prince and the narrator talk about sunsets
Chapter 7 —the narrator learns about the secret of the little prince’s life
Chapter 8 —the rose arrives at the little prince’s planet
Chapter 9 —the little prince leaves his planet
Chapter 10 —the little prince visits the king
Chapter 11 —the little prince visits the conceited m
Chapter 12 —the little prince visits the tippler
Chapter 13 —the little prince visits the businessman
Chapter 14 —the little prince visits the lamplighter
Chapter 15 —the little prince visits the geographer
Chapter 16 —the narrator discusses the Earth’s lamplighters
Chapter 17 —the little prince makes the acquaintance of the snake
Chapter 18 —the little prince goes looking for men and meets a flower
Chapter 19 —the little prince climbs a mountain range
Chapter 20 —the little prince discovers a garden of roses
Chapter 21 —the little prince befriends the fox
Chapter 22 —the little prince encounters a railway switchman
Chapter 23 —the little prince encounters a merchant
Chapter 24 —the narrator and the little prince, thirsty, hunt for a well in the desert
Chapter 25 —finding a well, the narrator and the little prince discuss his return to his planet
Chapter 26 —the little prince converses with the snake; the little prince consoles the narrator; the little prince returns to his planet
Chapter 27 —the narrator’s afterthoughts