‘The Little Prince‘ tells the story of a boy- now a young man, who crashes into a desert, where he meets an interesting personality- the little prince, from whom he learns a great deal.
This work of art contains so many powerful themes. What you will find here are just some of them, the ones flexible enough to accommodate what would otherwise have come as subthemes. Some of them include friendship, finding joy in nature, the beauty in simplicity, amongst others.
Friendship requires a great deal of understanding. It is a major theme in the book. We see this in the fox’s relationship with the little prince. We see it equally, or even more, in the boy’s relationship with the little prince. Creating ties with people comes with consequences and rewards.
Consequences, because people come and go. In the same way, the fox makes the little prince tame him and then becomes sad when the little prince has to go away. Rewards because of the memories. Just like the fox would look at the fields with the golden-colored shrubs, and remember his good friend, the little prince, the same way the little prince, through that friendship, starts to appreciate the little things he has, which in fact, aren’t so little- his beautiful flower which he tamed, and which has become his friend, just like the fox. Indeed, these are incomparable to the other ‘big’ things, because they are his. Big in quotes, because that is very debatable.
And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: it is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.
The fox, indeed, thought the little prince a great deal.
The Deceptiveness of Adulthood
This is a major theme in the book. The story starts in a funny way, with the book dedicated, not to the adult who wrote it, but to the child who grew into that adult, a plea, presented in a funny way, but nonetheless, a plea. The grown-ups in the book think they know it all, that they know what the matters of consequence are, and what aren’t matters of consequence. Adults are seen as people who are wiser, or who should be, at least, because of the experiences time that age must have made them go through. Alas, the children in the book- the boy and the little prince, are much wiser than the adults, and are the ones who focus on what matters, knowing that the shell is only well… just a shell. At some point, the boy begins to use his two drawings- one, of the boa constrictor from the outside and two, of the boa constrictor from the inside, as the yardstick to ascertain which adult has or lacks understanding. Grown-ups aren’t all that, after all. In fact, they aren’t much, even.
The beauty in simplicity. What you need, is right here, not far away. The grown-ups in the book see simple things as trivialities. But to the children who really understand things and know what matters, the simple things matter as much, if not even more. The shell which the little prince talks about can be seen as the big thing, the things we see, the conspicuous things. But, what about what’s on the inside? The little prince learns a great deal from the fox. He learns simplicity and learns that what matters is not quantity, and that- that something has so many others that look like it physically, doesn’t mean much. What matters is what you have, being yours, being unique- to you, and that is simple. Simplicity in its purest form. Simplicity is seeing the boa constrictor as a boa constrictor, not some hat. Simplicity is knowing that the boa constrictors matter as much as golf does. Simplicity is choosing to reject the pill that prevents people from going thirsty, only to look foolish in the end, because, why would someone take the pill, and then end up spending the time saved, by the freshwater spring?
Curiosity and Proactiveness
Start early to nip potentially problematic things in the board before they become uncontrollable, just like one would, the baobabs. As the curtains are about to draw to a close, the boy continues to express his worries, which usually come in waves- that perhaps, the sheep finally ate the flower. Most times, worrying is unnecessary as it changes nothing. However, a little of it can help keep people on their toes. The boy is a tad bit on the high side, but curiosity does not always kill the cat. In fact, even if we are to run with that, satisfaction would most likely bring it back.
We see proactiveness and curiosity in the little prince. The first thing he asks the boy is to draw him a sheep. Then he remembers his flower and asks to know if sheep eat flowers- curiosity. He then goes on to make the boy draw something to protect his flowers, a muzzle. He also intends to remove the baobabs before they sprout and become uncontrollable. Proactiveness and curiosity help the little prince to achieve a lot, and this rubs off on the boy.
Finding joy in nature. The little prince finds joy in watching the sunset. Do not wait to be happy; just be, live in the moment, and enjoy the moment. It is amazing that something as beautiful as a flower would have thorns. The thorns are for protection. Nature is indeed fascinating to observe. You cannot play the role of an enemy to nature and have it easy. That simply complicates things. Nature and everything that is of it and in it- the vegetation, the waters, the stars, the imaginary sheep, the fox, the snake, the flowers, the beings, all in the story extend to all of us. Nature is refreshing. In the novel, children are more in tune with nature, more positively curious, and are the ones who know what they want, not the grown-ups who don’t even know why they are going where they are heading to; that is why they- the children- understand.
Pride in what you have. Contentment. Aim high, but appreciate the one(s) you have, while doing so. Contentment and ambition, or a healthy desire to achieve or acquire more, can coexist. This is a major lesson the little prince learns from the fox. When the little prince sees that his flower, his beautiful flower, unlike what he thought, has thousands more that look like her physically, it saddens him. Now he thinks his flower isn’t unique after all. He climbs the mountains with shafts. This makes him remember his three volcanoes, one of which is probably dead, or well on its way to dying. This saddens him. The fox makes him snap out of that sour mood, by reminding him that what is on the inside matters, and that what is his, is his, unique- to him, no matter how little they appear to be. What we think are the big things, the grande things, are not really all that, after all. The little prince becomes proud of his possessions, once again.
Writing Style and Tone in The Little Prince
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry makes use of simple sentence structure while crafting this piece. He writes in English of the modern times. Also, the vocabulary is quite simple, and one well-footed in the English Language, need not turn to the dictionary so many times, as that might become a complete turn-off. Simplicity in language is a key ingredient in communication. The author does well to key into that.
The tone used in ‘The Little Prince’ is conversational and friendly. It almost feels like one knows the narrator personally, from somewhere else, other than the book. The writer tells the story in such a way that the reader lives, not outside, but within the book, while reading. It makes the reader more empathetic, the tone. The author also employs a simple structure, generally- he uses simple paragraphing, with most chapters out of the 27, succinct. He also makes use of illustrations- drawings- to go just beyond telling the reader, to show the reader how good or not, an artist, the boy is.
Analysis of Symbols and Figurative Language in The Little Prince
The story of ‘The Little Prince’ is a book filled with lots of figurative expressions. In the book, there is also a significant number of things with much deeper meanings than they literally appear to have. Also, personification and irony as figures of speech are very dominant in the book. First, we will focus on the analysis of symbols, and then we will talk about figurative language in ‘The Little Prince.’
Analysis of Symbols
Here, we will take a look at a few things from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s ‘The Little Prince’ and their underlying meanings.
The Box Containing the Sheep
This goes beyond just a box (believed to have a sheep in it). This signifies the power of choice. One can be anything one wants to be as long as one is living well within one’s own rights. In terms of money, it is the equivalent of giving someone a blank cheque. That box- that power of choice, though it is more of a cage for the sheep than it is liberty, gives the little prince the freedom to choose how he would want his sheep to look. The power of choice cannot be overemphasized. It is the type of power that makes non-existent, what would have been a problem, and makes the already existing problem fizzle out.
A symbol of trouble and is, therefore, better handled before it escalates. See anything that brings problems as the baobabs. That way, you weed them out before they sprout and become uncontrollable. Ignorance and vanity are baobabs, and the large bulk of the responsibility lies with the people around those plagued by this to help them out. For sometimes, sick people do not even know that they are sick. Potential troubles are to be nipped in the board before they escalate, bloom, blow up, or become much more difficult to control, the same with baobabs.
The Beautiful Flower with Four Thorns
A symbol of delicateness. How the little prince handles it shows how delicate it is. The beautiful flower symbolizes our love for anything at all. When one loves something, it shows in how that thing is tended to by them.
The outer part. The shell symbolizes what we can see, the obvious or conspicuous things. Size, quantity- basically, physicality, even outer beauty are all shells. And as much as shells may matter, they do not matter more than what is on the inside- the inner being, the inner beauty or the lack thereof, the appearance within, the heart, and the thought. In fact, the latter should matter more- that is, to the ones who try to know, to tame, and to understand.
The stars symbolize a beacon of hope. The star is good, and good is the star. We can make our joyful memories stars, so that when we look up at the sky we smile again and again, we laugh, even. No, that is not crazy. And, stars can be found anywhere, not just in the sky.
We will focus on the two figures of speech dominant in the book (irony and personification)- in action or words or both.
It is ironic that the adults who are thought to be wise aren’t as sensible after all.
Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them.
The little chap’s words.
It is also ironic that the king, who believes he is lord over all things- living and nonliving- has to wait for a favorable time to show the prince the sunset. That is beyond his control, and in fact, he isn’t lord over much as his lordship barely extends outside of him, the king hungry for a subject.
It is ironic that people would take pills to make them not become thirsty for a while, a week maybe, and then spend the minutes saved by a spring of fresh water.
“It is very tedious work, but very easy,” says the little prince about removing the baobabs when they are still small, making sure you don’t mistake them for the rose bushes. How can something be tedious and easy at the same time? This could very easily be mistaken for an oxymoron. But it is an irony.
Referring to a flower as she/her in Chapter 8.
She did not wish to go out into the world all rumpled, like the field poppies. It was only in the full radiance of her beauty that she wished to appear. Oh, yes! She was a coquettish creature! And her mysterious adornment lasted for days and days.
The little prince also converses with the proud flower as if it were a person. “Oh! How beautiful you are!” “Am I not?” the flower responded, sweetly. “And I was born at the same moment as the sun,” added the flower. The fox is also personified in Chapter 21.
What major lesson do we learn from The Little Prince?
We can learn many lessons from ‘The Little Prince,’ but summarised- we should get our priorities right, stop focusing so much on the shell, and the aesthetics, and start focusing more on the heart, what’s on the inside. Why? Because what is on the inside would almost always matter more than what is on the outside. When the shell disappears, what is left? That is what matters.
What is the biggest realization from The Little Prince?
The biggest realization from ‘The Little Prince‘ is that oftentimes, children are more in tune with what should actually matter than grown-ups are. A good example is the scene at the train station. All the children seemed to know where they are going and what they are going there to do. But, the grown-ups appear to be totally disconnected from reality and out of tune with nature.
What is the central theme of The Little Prince?
It’s not quite easy to choose, but summarised, ‘The Little Prince‘ teaches us about friendship– how friends are loved, and how we ought to prioritize them because we are meant to prioritize what we love. Friendship is the central theme. Though all connected, other notable themes are proactiveness, curiosity, pride in what is yours, and so on.
How are baobabs used in The Little Prince?
The baobabs are used to symbolize potentially troubling things that should be controlled before they become uncontrollable. The baobabs represent danger. When they are small, they represent potentially dangerous things. When they sprout or matter, they represent, not danger that is about to come, but one that is already here. Then, things got out of hand and would become difficult to control.
What does the shell symbolize?
The shell symbolizes the aesthetics, the outer part, the part we can see and quantify or place a value on. In the book, the fox makes the little prince realize that beauty lies in what is on the inside much more than it does in what is on the outside. When the shell is gone, what is left? What is left is important, because it is what matters.
What is the most ironic thing in the book?
The most ironic thing in the book is that adults, the very ones who are expected to know better because of… well, a wealth of experiences (or the impression that those exist), are the ones with their list of priorities upside down. A good example of irony in the book is grown-ups downing pills to save them some time by ‘preventing’ them from getting thirsty, only to wish to spend that time by a freshwater spring. Things couldn’t get more ironic than this.
What do the baobabs symbolise?
The baobabs symbolize trouble- potentially dangerous things that should be nipped in the board before they sprout and cause havoc. The baobabs, when they just begin to develop, scream ‘danger,’ symbolizing things that should be dealt with or handled before they become uncontrollable. Procrastination would mean disaster.
How was the fox personified in The Little Prince?
A fox could communicate in a human language. A fox cannot hold a conversation with a person. That is as far as personification can go. We learn a lot from the personified horse. It is from this fox that the little prince learns to love all he has, no matter how little he thinks them to be. It is also from the fox that the little prince learns the value of friendship above all, and that what lies within would almost always be greater than what lies without.