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The narrator, an airplane pilot, crashes
in the Sahara desert. The crash badly damages his airplane and leaves
the narrator with very little food or water. As he is worrying over
his predicament, he is approached by the little prince, a very serious
little blond boy who asks the narrator to draw him a sheep. The
narrator obliges, and the two become friends. The pilot learns that
the little prince comes from a small planet that the little prince
calls Asteroid 325 but that people on Earth
call Asteroid B-612. The little prince took
great care of this planet, preventing any bad seeds from growing
and making sure it was never overrun by baobab trees. One day, a
mysterious rose sprouted on the planet and the little prince fell
in love with it. But when he caught the rose in a lie one day, he
decided that he could not trust her anymore. He grew lonely and
decided to leave. Despite a last-minute reconciliation with the
rose, the prince set out to explore other planets and cure his loneliness.
While journeying, the narrator tells us, the little prince
passes by neighboring asteroids and encounters for the first time
the strange, narrow-minded world of grown-ups. On the first six
planets the little prince visits, he meets a king, a vain man, a
drunkard, a businessman, a lamplighter, and a geographer, all of
whom live alone and are overly consumed by their chosen occupations.
Such strange behavior both amuses and perturbs the little prince.
He does not understand their need to order people around, to be
admired, and to own everything. With the exception of the lamplighter,
whose dogged faithfulness he admires, the little prince does not
think much of the adults he visits, and he does not learn anything
useful. However, he learns from the geographer that flowers do not
last forever, and he begins to miss the rose he has left behind.
At the geographer’s suggestion, the little prince visits
Earth, but he lands in the middle of the desert and cannot find
any humans. Instead, he meets a snake who speaks in riddles and
hints darkly that its lethal poison can send the little prince back
to the heavens if he so wishes. The little prince ignores the offer
and continues his explorations, stopping to talk to a three-petaled
flower and to climb the tallest mountain he can find, where he confuses
the echo of his voice for conversation. Eventually, the little prince
finds a rose garden, which surprises and depresses him—his rose
had told him that she was the only one of her kind.
The prince befriends a fox, who teaches him that the important things
in life are visible only to the heart, that his time away from the rose
makes the rose more special to him, and that love makes a person
responsible for the beings that one loves. The little prince realizes
that, even though there are many roses, his love for his rose makes
her unique and that he is therefore responsible for her. Despite
this revelation, he still feels very lonely because he is so far away
from his rose. The prince ends his story by describing his encounters
with two men, a railway switchman and a salesclerk.
It is now the narrator’s eighth day in the desert, and
at the prince’s suggestion, they set off to find a well. The water
feeds their hearts as much as their bodies, and the two share a
moment of bliss as they agree that too many people do not see what
is truly important in life. The little prince’s mind, however, is
fixed on returning to his rose, and he begins making plans with
the snake to head back to his planet. The narrator is able to fix
his plane on the day before the one-year anniversary of the prince’s
arrival on Earth, and he walks sadly with his friend out to the
place the prince landed. The snake bites the prince, who falls noiselessly
to the sand.
The narrator takes comfort when he cannot find the prince’s body
the next day and is confident that the prince has returned to his asteroid.
The narrator is also comforted by the stars, in which he now hears
the tinkling of his friend’s laughter. Often, however, he grows
sad and wonders if the sheep he drew has eaten the prince’s rose.
The narrator concludes by showing his readers a drawing of the desert
landscape and by asking us to stop for a while under the stars if
we are ever in the area and to let the narrator know immediately
if the little prince has returned.
Ace your assignments with our guide to The Little Prince!