The Little Prince

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Main Ideas

Key Facts

Main Ideas Key Facts

full title  The Little Prince (in French, Le Petit Prince)

author  Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

type of work  Children’s story, novella

genre  Fable, allegory

language  French

time and place written  The summer and fall of 1942, while Saint-Exupéry was living in Long Island, New York

date of first publication  First published in English translation in 1943. The first French edition did not appear until 1946.

publisher  Reynal & Hitchcock, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc. (U.S. edition, both French and English); Gallimard (French edition)

narrator  A pilot who crashes in the Sahara desert, where he meets the little prince. The narrator tells his story of the encounter six years after it happened.

point of view  The narrator gives a first-person account, although he spends large portions of the story recounting the little prince’s own story of his travels.

tone  When describing his surreal, poignant encounter with the little prince, the narrator’s tone is bittersweet. When describing the adult world, the narrator’s tone is matter-of-fact and often regretful.

tense  Past

settings (time)  “Six years ago,” although the current date is never specified

settings (place)  The Sahara Desert and outer space

protagonists  The little prince, the pilot

major conflict  The childlike perspectives of the prince and, to some extent, those of the narrator are in conflict with the stifling beliefs of the adult world.

rising action  After he believes he has been spurned by his rose, the prince travels to neighboring planets and eventually lands on Earth. He wanders through the desert in search of humans, and he is eventually found by the fox.

climax  The fox teaches the little prince his secret, and the little prince realizes the value of his rose.

falling action  The prince meets the narrator, to whom he passes along the fox’s instructions. He is then sent back to the heavens by the snake’s bite.

themes  The dangers of narrow-mindedness, enlightenment through exploration, relationships teach responsibility

motifs  Secrecy, the narrator’s drawings, taming, serious matters

symbols  The stars, the desert, the trains, water

foreshadowing  When the snake greets the prince, he alludes to his ability to send the prince back to the heavens, which he does at the end of the novel.