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Study Guide: The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

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THE LITTLE PRINCE: FREE CHAPTER NOTES / FREE BOOKNOTES

CHAPTER SUMMARIES WITH NOTES / ANALYSIS

CHAPTERS 1 - 2

Summary

The narrator begins the book by writing of the time when he was a child, endeavoring to be an artist. He remembers that his first drawing was that of a boa constrictor digesting an elephant. When he showed the picture to several adults, none of them could make out what he wanted them to see. They all insisted that the drawing looked like a hat. As a result, the narrator drew another picture, which he believed clearly showed a boa constrictor swallowing an elephant. On seeing the second one, the adults advised him to devote his time to serious studies instead art. The narrator complains about adults having a lack of imagination. He finds it tiresome for children to always have to explain things to them. He also blames the adults for discouraging him from what would have been a marvelous career as a painter.

The narrator says that as an adult he meets many grown-ups; whenever he thinks that he has met someone who is clear sighted, he shows him his first drawing and asks him to say what it is. None of them ever decipher that the drawing is that of a boa constrictor swallowing an elephant. When they say the picture looks like a hat, the narrator does not bother to talk to them about important or fantastic things; instead, he goes down to their level and chooses practical topics of conversation.


The narrator next explains that he finally chose a career in aviation. During one of his flights, the narrator’s plane crashes in the desert. While he is repairing his plane, he is surprised by the voice of a stranger who asks the narrator to draw a picture of a sheep for him. The narrator is very surprised, but agrees to make the drawing for the stranger, who is a small built man with wavy hair. As the narrator gazes at the stranger more closely, it seems he is almost like a child, filled with innocence and simple ways. The stranger is the Little Prince.

The narrator decides to first draw an elephant inside a boa constrictor. He is surprised when the Little Price recognizes the drawing for what it is. The narrator then draws three sheep, but the Prince ignores the picture. The narrator next draws a box and puts the sheep inside it; the Prince is satisfied with this drawing.

Notes

The novel begins with the narrator explaining his earliest attempts at drawing. The message is that adults do not look beneath the surface of things; therefore, they are not able to see beauty or comprehend true value. It is obvious that the narrator does not have a very high opinion of adults. He thinks that children are able to see more than they see; he also thinks that he has to bring down his level to converse with them, for they are unable to talk about boa constrictors, primeval forests, and stars.

The real story begins in the second chapter when the narrator meets the Little Price in the desert after his airplane has crashed there. With his small build, wavy hair, and child-like innocence, he does not seem to be a human, but a visitor from another planet. When the narrator draws for him a picture of a boa constrictor eating an elephant, the Little Prince immediately recognizes it for what it is. The narrator is amazed and delighted that he has finally found someone who understands his drawings.

The Little Price asks the narrator to draw for him a picture of sheep, a request that seems as mysterious as the little man himself. When the narrator draws the first picture for him, composed of three sheep, the Little Prince does not respond. In the next drawing, the narrator makes a box and puts the sheep inside it; this drawing pleases the Prince.

The first two chapters set the mood of the novel; it is to be adventurous, but mysterious. After all, the narrator has a plane crash in the middle of a desert, where he encounters a strange, but sensitive, little man who seems to come from a different planet and who requests a drawing of sheep. The tone of the novel is also set; the narrator respects children more than he respects adults. As a result, he immediately likes the Little Prince with his child-like simplicity and his ability to see beneath the surface.


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