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Themes are the fundamental and often universal ideas
explored in a literary work.
The Little Prince exposes the ignorance
that accompanies an incomplete and narrow-minded perspective. In
Chapter IV, for example, when the Turkish astronomer first presents
his discovery of Asteroid B-612, he is ignored
because he wears traditional Turkish clothing. Years later, he makes
the same presentation wearing European clothing and receives resounding
acclaim. Because the three-petaled flower described in Chapter XVI
has spent its whole life in the desert, it incorrectly reports that
Earth contains very few humans and that they are a rootless, drifting
Even the protagonists of The Little Prince have
their moments of narrow-mindedness. In Chapter XVII, the narrator
confesses that his previous description of Earth focused too much
on humans. In Chapter XIX, the little prince mistakes the echo of
his own voice for that of humans and falsely accuses humans of being
too repetitive. Such quick judgments, the story argues, lead to
the development of dangerous stereotypes and prejudices. They also
prevent the constant questioning and open-mindedness that are important
to a well-adjusted and happy life.
For the most part, The Little Prince characterizes
narrow-mindedness as a trait of adults. In the very first chapter,
the narrator draws a sharp contrast between the respective ways
grown-ups and children view the world. He depicts grown-ups as unimaginative, dull,
superficial, and stubbornly sure that their limited perspective
is the only one possible. He depicts children, on the other hand,
as imaginative, open-minded, and aware of and sensitive to the mystery
and beauty of the world.
In the story’s opening pages, the narrator explains that
grown-ups lack the imagination to see his Drawing Number One, which represents
a boa constrictor swallowing an elephant, as anything other than
a hat. As the story progresses, other examples of the blindness
of adults emerge. As the little prince travels from planet to planet,
the six adults he encounters proudly reveal their character traits,
whose contradictions and shortcomings the little prince then exposes.
The little prince represents the open-mindedness of children.
He is a wanderer who restlessly asks questions and is willing to
engage the invisible, secret mysteries of the universe. The novel
suggests that such inquisitiveness is the key to understanding and
to happiness. However, The Little Prince shows
that age is not the main factor separating grown-ups from children.
The narrator, for example, has aged enough to forget how to draw,
but he is still enough of a child to understand and befriend the
young, foreign little prince.
As the critic James Higgins points out, each of the novel’s
main characters hungers both for adventure (exploration of the outside world)
and for introspection (exploration within himself). It is through
his encounter with the lost prince in the lonely, isolated desert
that the friendless narrator achieves a newfound understanding of
the world. But in his story of the little prince’s travels, Saint-Exupéry
shows that spiritual growth must also involve active exploration.
The narrator and the prince may be stranded in the desert, but they
are both explorers who make a point of traveling the world around
them. Through a combination of exploring the world and exploring
their own feelings, the narrator and the little prince come to understand
more clearly their own natures and their places in the world.
The Little Prince teaches that the responsibility
demanded by relationships with others leads to a greater understanding
and appreciation of one’s responsibilities to the world in general.
The story of the prince and his rose is a parable (a story that
teaches a lesson) about the nature of real love. The prince’s love
for his rose is the driving force behind the novel. The prince leaves
his planet because of the rose; the rose permeates the prince’s
discussions with the narrator; and eventually, the rose becomes
the reason the prince wants to return to his planet. The source
of the prince’s love is his sense of responsibility toward his beloved
rose. When the fox asks to be tamed, he explains to the little prince
that investing oneself in another person makes that person, and
everything associated with him or her, more special. The
Little Prince shows that what one gives to another is even
more important than what that other gives back in return.
Ace your assignments with our guide to The Little Prince!