I can carry you farther than any ship could take you.

In this passage, the snake is explaining that his venom can kill the little prince. The snake describes death as a journey that goes far beyond the confines of the Earth, and takes the traveler farther than any ship could. Death is often characterized in literature as a journey that takes you into an entirely new state of being or plane of existence – or nonexistence – that is incomprehensible to the human mind. The snake speaks with an air of mystery and vagueness because nothing is truly known about the particulars of the journey that is death.

“Oh! I understand you very well,” said the Little Prince. “But why do you always speak in riddles?” “I solve them all,” said the snake. 

When the little prince questions the snake’s mysterious way of speaking, the snake again references death, and its own ability to kill. Death solves all riddles and answers all questions because it is the ultimate ending; all paths lead to it, and after death, neither question nor answer matters. The snake’s vague speech juxtaposes its power to cause death, the only certainty in life, to another living being.

“Whomever I touch, I send back to the earth from whence he came,” the snake spoke again. “But you are innocent and true, and you come from a star.”

The snake explains that death, which he can cause with his bite, is the act of returning a living being to earth. This phrase speaks to both the physical – the body is often laid to rest in the ground, eventually becoming one with the soil – and the spiritual – the individual soul ends, becoming part of the greater universe again. The little prince, however, is not a human, and did not come from Earth. Because of this, the snake supposes that if he bit the little prince, the boy would be sent back to his home planet instead of dying in the same way that a human would.