If you were to say to the grown-ups: "I saw a beautiful house made of rosy brick, with geraniums in the windows and doves on the roof," they would not be able to get any idea of that house at all. You would have to say to them: "I saw a house that cost $20,000." Then they would exclaim: "Oh, what a pretty house that is!"

For grownups, who are obsessed with numbers and status and have forgotten how to appreciate the truly important things in life, the small beauties of someone’s home, or the care that has been put into making the house a home, mean nothing to them. They calculate the value or beauty of a place based only on how much it costs; the pricier the house, the more likely they are to see it as beautiful. In the eyes of the narrator, this is a pitiable mindset.

To forget a friend is sad. Not every one has had a friend. And if I forget him, I may become like the grown-ups who are no longer interested in anything but figures...

In The Little Prince, a common theme is that adults are not concerned with the right things. They are concerned with money, calculations, status, and politics, and often lose the ability to see the importance of the simple wonders of life, like being present in the moment or being curious about the world. Most unfortunately, they’ve forgotten how to establish ties with other people, how to tame someone and have a truly fulfilling friendship. This is why so many of the adults in the novel are lonely and unsatisfied.

"And what good does it do you to own the stars?" "It does me the good of making me rich." "And what good does it do you to be rich?" "It makes it possible for me to buy more stars, if any are ever discovered." "This man," the Little Prince said to himself, "reasons a little like my poor tippler."

The businessman accumulates stars to use their value to buy more stars, a process that does not actually benefit him, since the stars themselves have no obvious use for the businessman. The businessman believes that this is a reasonable, serious profession, but the little prince sees it for what it truly is: an illogical waste of time. The stars are a clear metaphor for money, and the businessman’s story is a warning: those who spend their lives obsessively pursuing wealth are wasting their time on non-essential things, and may one day discover that their accumulation of money has been as useless a pursuit as the businessman’s accumulation of stars.

I know a planet where there is a certain red-faced gentleman. He has never smelled a flower. He has never looked at a star. He has never loved any one. He has never done anything in his life but add up figures. And all day he says over and over, just like you: 'I am busy with matters of consequence!'

Adults often have the wrong priorities in life. They believe they are spending their time on important things – like money and business – when in reality they are depriving themselves of what truly makes life worth living. They don’t have deep connections with other people. They don’t take time to appreciate beauty. They don’t notice the world around them. They are completely wrapped up in ultimately trivial pursuits that will only make them lonely and unhappy.

Absurd as it might seem to me, a thousand miles from any human habitation and in danger of death, I took out of my pocket a sheet of paper and my fountain-pen. But then I remembered how my studies had been concentrated on geography, history, arithmetic, and grammar, and I told the little chap (a little crossly, too) that I did not know how to draw.

The narrator was told as a child by adults to give up art and focus on serious studies, but now as an adult himself, he’s found himself in a situation where art is the necessary skill to have, and none of his serious studies apply. But because he was discouraged from art as a child, he can’t draw. It is a narrow-minded and misguided view that art – a study and hobby that is often viewed as trivial and frivolous – is neither important nor essential.