Author: Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Publisher: Wordsworth Edition Limited (1995) [Originally published 1943]
Number of Pages: 109
How long it took me to read: 7 days
Where I bought this book: My sister lent it to me
Like a Moth to a Flame
The Little Prince is classically simple and sweet, weaving an endearing message of childhood innocence through the perspective of an analytical adult mind. This was what initially attracted me to revisit the timeless story, tracing back into my memory and remembering when I first read it in elementary school. I came across the book again by accident, never thinking I would read it again. Looking for books to read, I combed my bookshelves and eventually stumbled upon the The Little Prince. It seems my sister bought this book a few years back for a literature course she was taking in university. Drawn by curiosity, I wondered how time had changed the view through the looking glass I’d soon use to peer back into this fascinating world.
I propose that the top 5 quotes from this book are:
5. “But he is the only one who does not seem ridiculous to me. Perhaps it is because he is not only concerned with himself.” (p.60)
4. “Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves and it is rather tedious for children to have to explain things to them time and again.” (p.11)
3. “Look at the sky. Ask yourselves: Has the sheep eaten the flower, yes or no? And you will see how everything changes…” (p.107)
2. “When one wants to be funny, one may have to lie a little bit from time to time.” (p.67)
…and my pick for the No.1 quote is…
1. “It is only with one’s heart that one can see clearly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.” (p.82)
Conversation with the Reader
While I read, I write, and as I write, I read. Here’s some of what I wrote while I read this book:
“As I read, I contemplate the various ways of enjoying this book. One can read the words and follow the interesting escapades of the little prince through his travels between mysterious planets. But the further I am enveloped in the story, the more abstract the message of the lonely wanderer and his encounters on Earth becomes. It seems to me the linear path towards the finish line is taking many subtle turns along the way.
“From a desert to an asteroid and then into a lavish garden, these are all surrounding to which the reader is transported. As the Little Prince explores his universe, he, along with us, comes across strange characters dispersed throughout the cosmos. Each encounter builds on the narrative of the absurdity of the adult mind as seen through the eyes of the Little Prince. His youthful naivety and thoughtful predisposition is the canvas on which his world is painted.”
“Reflecting while I read gives way to thoughts of other classic stories similar in scope to The Little Prince. Stories whose foundations are built on themes of youth, discovery, and the critical examination of our society. The words of this book serve to highlight the flaws and the unimaginative reality of being an adult in modern society. The universality of this message can be seen in other stories fashioned in the same light as The Little Prince, such as the stories of Peter Pan and Harry Potter. They all play to childhood nostalgia, and bring into focus the rites of passage we all go through as we ascend into adulthood.
“As this story chips away at the facade of the authoritarian and materialistic universe in which the Little Prince resides, the reader is able to witness the self-indulgent nature of the society surrounding our protagonist. His asteroid is a reminder, to himself and to us, of the simple things that matter and of where youthful delights still exist. In turn, when he hastily leaves this simple existence behind after an argument with his flower, his search for meaning leaves him with more questions and confusion. To comprehend the quantitative nature of the world around him becomes an arduous task. The prince’s bewilderment by adult society is what we all must grapple with as we grow up. The road taken to achieve our aspirations and gain maturity is littered with the discarded innocence of our youth.”
“As I continue reading, I begin to see the lost boy not as the Little Prince but as the pilot he meets; to me, the pilot is representative of what is lost to age. As he interacts with the Little Prince, he rediscovers his passion for art and sketches a drawing of a sheep for his new companion. I, too, remember the activities of my childhood—drawing and sketching in an attempt to find my own voice. Now, as I reread a part of my childhood, I fondly look back and realize that my youth hasn’t disappeared; it’s transformed through the winds of change.
“Just as the desert is sculpted by the blowing breeze, so are our thoughts and ideas. The ebb and flow of who we are is symbolized in the asteroids the Little Prince skips across. The characters he encounters are pieces to a greater puzzle—the authority figure, the scholar, the capitalist, the narcissist and the worker—they’re all ideas of what it means to be an adult. We take turns embodying each character until they shape us and serve their purpose. But as the pilot in the desert discovers, his childhood still exists, covered deep beneath his regrets and memories of growing up. His fateful plane crash in the desert and chance encounter with our bright-eyed traveler rekindles his faith in himself and in life’s simple pleasures. As the sun sets on his time with the Little Prince, they both part ways, altering each other’s destinies along the way.”
“Upon contemplation, I come to see that in all his travels, the Little Prince’s curiosity is what carries him through his journey. The wonderment with which he chooses to see the world around him is the quality that he leaves with the pilot and with me. As the pilot reflects on what has become of the Little Prince on his tiny asteroid, he is able to step back and realize the meaning of what was gained through helping the Little Prince. In accepting him, the pilot is able to reconcile his inner child and briefly watch adulthood through youthful eyes. It’s a journey of rediscovery as the Little Prince comes full circle, returning to tend to his flower among the stars.”