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The Little Prince | Study Guide

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

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The Little Prince | Character Analysis


Little Prince

The Little Prince is a child with golden locks and a laugh that sounds like "a lot of little bells." He is thoughtful and curious and never lets go of a question once he has asked it. His home is a tiny planet identified as Asteroid B-612. It has three knee-high volcanoes, two of which are active, and is infested with dangerous baobab seeds. It is also home to a unique and lovely flower that the Little Prince cares for. But in her pride and vanity, she fails to show him affection in return. Feeling sad and lonely, the Little Prince leaves his tiny planet in a quest for friendship and to learn what is important in life. His interplanetary travels show him the foolishness of grown-ups who have forgotten what is essential and are consumed by pointless matters. Then on Earth he befriends and is befriended by a fox who shares with him the secret of seeing with his heart and not with his eyes. The prince learns that "what is important cannot be seen." By the time the Little Prince meets the narrator, marooned in the Sahara Desert, he has learned how to see rightly and how to care for whomever he loves. Befriending the pilot, his role shifts from student to teacher as he helps the pilot, who has forgotten the important things in life.


When the narrator is six years old, he aspires to be a great artist. His first endeavor, however, fails to impress the adults in his life, and they encourage him to do something more sensible. So he becomes a grown-up and a pilot concerned with "serious matters." But he is never a comfortable member of the grown-up world. He feels misunderstood, with no one to talk to. In short, he is lonely. He meets the Little Prince in the most unlikely place: an isolated area of the Sahara Desert, where his plane has gone down. How exactly the Little Prince has found him is a mystery, but it is a fortunate encounter. The Little Prince has been in search of a cure for loneliness. Having found it, he shares the secret with the narrator. Through his encounter with the Little Prince, the narrator learns the secrets of friendship and how to see the world anew, with childlike wonder. He learns how to look with the heart beyond outward appearances and to divine what is essential. Just as important, his imagination is rekindled, and he finds it possible to believe, for example, that the drawing of a box can hide a small sheep inside; that on a small planet somewhere lives a Little Prince who loves a flower; and that the stars laugh like a thousand small bells.


The rose is a flower that mysteriously blooms on the Little Prince's planet, Asteroid B-612. The Little Prince believes the flower is unique in the world and grows nowhere else but on his planet. She is vain, proud, and demanding, but she is also capable of quiet sweetness and is enchanting to the Little Prince. However, she fails to show any signs of affection or appreciation for all the prince does for her, which makes him feel terribly lonely. She is the reason he leaves his planet to search for a cure for loneliness. On Earth the Little Prince discovers that there are thousands of flowers just like her. She is a common rose. But with the help of the fox, the prince learns how to see her differently—with his heart—and to love her.


The second inhabitant of Earth that the Little Prince meets is the fox; he appears seated under an apple tree. The fox is wiser than any other being the Little Prince has encountered so far. He counsels the Little Prince on the ways of love and friendship, beginning with a lesson on what it means to care for and need someone. He calls this being "tamed." He asks the Little Prince to tame him, explaining that when this is done, the little boy will then be unique to him among all little boys. In turn, he (the fox) will be unique among all foxes to the prince. The fox then shares the secret of how to clearly see and love one another. "It is only with one's heart that one can see clearly," he explains. "What is essential is invisible to the eye." He also cautions the Little Prince that he is responsible for whomever he tames.


When the Little Prince falls to Earth, the snake is the first inhabitant he encounters. The creature is as pale gold as the sand of the Sahara Desert he inhabits. Though "thin as a finger," the snake is nonetheless dangerous; an agent of death. With one bite he can "carry you farther than a ship," meaning into the afterlife. Yet he recognizes the essential innocence and purity of the Little Prince. So, rather than harm him, the snake offers to help the prince if and when he wishes to return to his planet. The Little Prince is wise enough to fear the snake, but he turns to the creature when his time on Earth is finished. Unable to transport his body back to his planet, the Little Prince must use the bite of the snake to leave it behind.

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