The Little Prince

by: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Chapters I–III

Chapter II also reinforces these ideas about the power of drawings and the importance of imagination. Saint-Exupéry suggests that, like the narrator and the little prince, the reader will have to use his or her imagination to grasp the real story. The drawings invite the reader to join in the narrator’s encounter with the little prince and to deduce the meaning of the drawings along with the story’s characters. By putting the drawings in the text, Saint-Exupéry is crediting us with the same powers of imagination as those of the little prince and the narrator. It is up to us, therefore, to make the book come to life. We must see the story in the same way that the little prince can see a sheep living and sleeping in the narrator’s drawing of a box.

The way the little prince can immediately see beyond first appearances and perceive the boa constrictor in the narrator’s first drawing and a sheep hidden in a box shows how different children are from adults. The adult perspective in Chapter I is unimaginative, overly pragmatic, and dull, while the childish perspective is creative, full of wonder, and open to the mysterious beauty of the universe. The novel suggests that both adulthood and childhood are states of mind rather than facts of life. The narrator, for example, is an adult when he tells the story, but he longs for companions with the pure perspective of childhood.

The narrator’s loneliness at the beginning of Chapter II shows how important relationships with others are. In the desert, the narrator is stranded from all human contact, but his isolation allows him to indulge in the most fulfilling relationship of his life. Forcibly removed from the corrupting influence of the grown-up world, he is able to embrace the prince and the lessons his new friend has to offer.

The narrator’s constant questioning in Chapters II and III, however, shows that we cannot hope to have answers simply handed to us. In Chapter III, the narrator is full of questions, but if the little prince answers them at all, he does so with oblique, indirect responses. The story suggests that questions are much more important than answers. Later, both the prince and the narrator discuss this lesson in greater detail.