The Little Prince | Study Guide

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

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The Little Prince | Quotes

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1.

I have spent a lot of time with grown-ups ... which I'm afraid has not greatly enhanced my opinion of them.


Narrator

The narrator introduces himself as a child who has reluctantly grown up to become a sensible person. As a pilot he has been all over the world and come in contact with many serious people. Yet he has never felt completely at ease in the grown-up world. He feels misunderstood and has no friend he can really talk to. His statement suggests that he knows the answer to his loneliness and unhappiness will not be found in that no-nonsense, adult world.

2.

Please ... draw me a sheep.


Little Prince

These words introduce the Little Prince to the narrator, whose plane has crashed in the Sahara Desert, hopelessly far from human habitation. The prince, appearing out of nowhere, astonishes the narrator with both his presence and his request. The latter is surprisingly insightful, striking at the heart of the narrator's childhood disappointment when his artistic efforts to draw an elephant inside a boa constrictor are mistaken by grown-ups for a badly drawn hat.

Though the narrator resists drawing anything, the Little Prince insists until the narrator gives in. Interestingly, the approved drawing is an unseen sheep inside a box, not unlike the narrator's failed childhood drawings. This event is a first step in the man's friendship with the Little Prince.

3.

Grown-ups love figures.


Narrator

The narrator is explaining why he has revealed the number of the Little Prince's planet, Asteroid B-612. He blames grown-ups who place a disproportionate value on facts and figures, thinking these are significant. They usually miss what is essential to know. Rather than believing the essential facts that the prince "was enchanting, that he laughed and that he wanted a sheep," the narrator knows they will see the numbering of the asteroid as proof that the Little Prince really exists. This incident underscores the idea that most grown-ups have forgotten how to recognize what is really important in life.

4.

Children. Beware of baobabs!


Narrator

The Little Prince urges the narrator to issue this dire warning. His tiny planet is in constant danger from the seeds of baobab trees that, if left to grow, will take over and explode Asteroid B-612. He feels it may be useful to warn "whomever might get lost on an asteroid" to keep an eye out for sprouting baobabs in order to uproot them early.

The larger meaning of the baobabs is rooted in origins of World War II. They symbolize problems that, when ignored, grow until they are too large to control. The result is worldwide destruction.

5.

You talk just like grown-ups.


Little Prince

With the excuse, "I am busy with serious matters," the narrator has carelessly brushed aside the Little Prince's persistent questions about his flower on Asteroid B-612. To the prince the fate of his flower is more important than the job preoccupying the man (that of repairing his plane). Only a grown-up would not see how that flower out there, somewhere among the stars, makes all the universe a bright and beautiful place. Only a grown-up would not understand how disastrous it would be if that flower were accidentally eaten by a sheep.

This accusation against the narrator makes him feel ashamed. It also foreshadows the stories to come about occupants of other planets foolishly preoccupied with "serious matters."

6.

I was too young to know how to love her.


Little Prince

The Little Prince is talking about his flower on Asteroid B-612. Speaking to the narrator, he explains the misunderstanding that prompted his departure from the planet. He ends with this statement, phrased in the past tense ("I was too young ..."). It suggests that he has learned the secret of how to love her. This sets the stage for his journey and the lessons learned along the way.

7.

It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.


Fox

On Earth the Little Prince has met a wise fox, whom he has tamed. This means they have established emotional ties and need and understand each other. The prince has told the fox about his flower on Asteroid B-612. Before the Little Prince continues on his journey, the fox promises to tell him a secret as a gift. This secret is how to see with the heart, beneath outward appearances to the essence of things. It is a way for the Little Prince to see and understand his flower; to bypass her commonness and see her inner beauty and worth. Seen this way, she is transformed. No longer ordinary, she is unique among all other flowers; she is his flower.

8.

For what you have tamed, you become responsible forever.


Fox

This is the last lesson the Little Prince learns from the fox. The fox hopes to impress upon the prince the need to take care of whomever he has "tamed," or established ties with. He will now be needed and depended upon. The Little Prince properly relates this to his rose, which he has tamed, and which has tamed him.

However, he overlooks the fact that he has also tamed the fox. When the Little Prince continues on his journey, the tamed fox discovers the pain of separation from his friend. This foreshadows the emotional impact of later events on the narrator when the Little Prince must leave Earth to return home.

9.

The stars are beautiful because of a flower one cannot see.


Little Prince

During their walk through the desert at night, searching for a well, the narrator and the Little Prince sit down to rest. Staring up at the sky, the Little Prince makes this observation. It underscores all he has learned and passed on to the narrator about seeing with the heart. It requires the imagination of a child who can look at the drawing of a box and know there is a sheep asleep inside.

10.

What makes the desert beautiful ... is that it hides a well, somewhere.


Little Prince

As the Little Prince and narrator rest before resuming their search for a well in the desert, the Little Prince shares this thought. It offers another illustration of the secret shared by the fox. On the face of it, the desert is silent, barren, and inhospitable to life. Yet appearances are deceiving. It hides an unseen and as yet undiscovered element essential to life: water. And the imagined presence of a cool, nourishing drink waiting in a hidden well infuses the desert with beauty.

11.

This water was ... different from ordinary nourishment. [...] It was good for the heart, like a gift.


Narrator

After a night wandering in the desert, the narrator miraculously finds a well, just as the Little Prince predicted. The prince also said that "water may also be good for the heart." Watching the child drink, the narrator at last understands what he meant.

Throughout the night the narrator has carried the child. At the well he pulls up the water and gives the prince the first drink. Though the child has never seemed thirsty, he says, "I am thirsty for this water." Care and kindness have gone into providing that cool sip. It provides nourishment that quenches the Little Prince's spiritual thirst for friendship. That drink is like no other, for it is a gift of love that refreshes the soul.

12.

You and only you will have stars that can laugh!


Little Prince

The narrator is greatly saddened by the Little Prince's imminent departure from Earth. By way of comfort, the Little Prince reminds him of what they will always share because of their friendship. The narrator has said that he will miss the Little Prince's laughter, so that is the child's gift to him.

Now, when the narrator looks up at the stars, he will know that his friend "is living on one of them and laughing," but he won't know which one. So, they will all seem to laugh. Rather than silent points of light, the stars will be "a lot of little bells that can laugh"—but only for the narrator. And hearing them will remind him that he and the Little Prince will always be friends.

13.

All the stars will be wells with rusty pulleys. All the stars will pour me some water to drink.


Little Prince

In relation to the previous quote, the Little Prince continues his efforts to ease the narrator's sadness over his imminent departure. The prince describes the joy he takes with him on his return to Asteroid B-612. He will recall the sweetness of the well water drawn up and poured for him by his friend. He will remember the kindness and love that quenched his spiritual thirst. Looking up at the stars, the Little Prince will know that his friend is out there somewhere, and all the stars will be bathed in the beauty of that memory and that forever friendship.

14.

He fell as gently as a tree falls. There was not even the slightest sound, because of the sand.


Narrator

The narrator is describing the swift, silent death of the Little Prince. The child has told him that he must return to his planet, and the deadly bite of a snake will be the means. The prince explains that his body is much too heavy to carry back with him. He will leave that "shell" behind.

When as foretold, the snake delivers its poison, the Little Prince falls like a rag doll, without a sound. That which animated the shell of his body leaves.

15.

Do not leave me grieving. Write me quickly to tell me that he has come back.


Narrator

This is the narrator's heartfelt plea should the reader ever meet the Little Prince while traveling through the desert in Africa. Six years have passed since he last saw the Little Prince, whose body disappeared after the prince was bitten by the snake. Although the narrator still misses the child, he feels sure he is safely back on Asteroid B-612. With the hope that one day the Little Prince will return to Earth, the narrator provides the reader with a sketch of the desert location where he last saw the child and instructions on what to do if the prince should be spotted.

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