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

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FREE NOTES ON THE LITTLE PRINCE: BOOK REPORT / ANALYSIS

CHAPTERS 15 - 16

Summary

The sixth planet that the Prince visits is ten times larger than the lamplighter’s planet and is inhabited by an old geographer who writes voluminous books. At first he seems interesting to the Prince, for he possesses a great deal of information about towns, rivers, mountains, seas, oceans, and deserts. Hoping that the geographer will record information about his asteroid in one of his books, the Little Prince tells him about his planet, including a description of his special flower. He is shocked to learn that the geographer has no interest in the Prince’s flower, saying that all flowers are too “ephemeral.” At the word, the Prince suddenly grows fearful for his precious flower. He regrets having left her alone on his planet, but he is still determined to continue his journey to Earth.

When the Little Prince lands on Earth, he describes it s an extraordinary planet. It is so huge that it would require 462,5111 lamplighters to maintain all the lamps.

Notes

On the sixth planet, the Little Prince meets a geographer, who spends all of his time recording the existence of rivers, mountains, and lakes that he has never even seen. The Prince thinks that it is tragic that he has so much information about the physical characteristics of Earth but never goes out to enjoy the natural world. When the geographer says that flowers are not really important because they are ephemeral, the Little Prince is upset; he regrets that he has left his defenseless flower alone on his planet. He promises to go back and check on her as soon as his visit to Earth is complete.

With the geographer, the author is once again pointing out that adults do not take time to look beneath the surface. Although he thinks he knows a lot about rivers, mountains, and lakes because he charts them on maps and writes about them in books, the geographer really knows little about the world, for he is too busy to go out and enjoy it; his knowledge is really superficial and unimportant. A child who take time to splash in a river really knows more about that river than the geographer does.

In the sixteenth chapter, the Little Prince finally lands on Earth; he describes it with child-like wonder, for he is totally amazed by its size and diversity. It is not surprising that this little man from a very little planet chooses to stay on Earth for awhile.


CHAPTERS 17 - 18

Summary


When the Prince arrives on Earth, the first living creature he meets is a snake. He asks the snake where the men are located. The snake responds by saying that it is not important to find the men, for it can be lonely among them. Although the snake claims that it can solve all riddles, the Little Prince does not believe it and accuses the snake of being a weak creature. The snake replies that it has the power to send those it touches back to the star from where they have come from. It tells the Little Prince that he should find the snake if he ever grows homesick.

Leaving the snake behind, the Prince crosses the desert. Along the way, he meets a flower and asks her where to find the men. The flower tells him that there are only six or seven of them in existence, for that is all she has ever seen in the desert. She believes that men are weak because they have no roots, which makes life difficult for them. Since the flower is of no help, the Prince moves on through the desert.

Notes

The narrator begins the chapter by explaining that men occupy a very small place on Earth, even though they think they are very important. The Little Prince, however, has a very hard time finding any men. Instead, he encounters a snake, which has the power to harm the Prince. The snake, however, does not strike, for it judges the Prince to be too innocent and pure. When he asks the snake where to find them, the creature warns the Prince not to be occupied with finding men. Even in their company, the snake warns that he will still feel lonely. Saint-Exupéry is criticizing man’s tendency to not care for or interact with his fellow man.

The snake has a very high opinion of itself. It tells the Prince that it can solve all riddles. It also explains how it has the power to bite other creatures and send them back to the planets from where they have come. This information is useful to the Little Prince later in the book.

As the Prince continues across the desert, he longs to meet some other men, for he feels very lonely. When he meets a flower with three petals, he asks her where to find some men who can keep him company. The flower claims that there are only about six men in existence. Her opinion cannot be trusted, for her thoughts are shaped by her limited exposure; in a similar manner, men with little exposure also have very limited points of view.

The flower goes on to explain, from her point of view, why there are so few men. She says that since humans have no roots, their life is very difficult, and they cannot survive for long. Saint-Exupéry is obviously criticizing the fact that men often do not put down roots and establish firm values about what is important in life. As a result, they are blown across the hot desert of life, never knowing who they are or what they stand for.


CHAPTERS 19 - 20

Summary

The Prince climbs a high mountain and thinks that from such a height he will be able to see the whole planet at one glance. He is amazed that from the top of the mountain, he sees nothing of importance, only more peaks of rocks and sand. He begins to wonder why Earth is supposedly so special, for he thinks it is a dry, harsh, and forbidding place. When he calls out to find someone, he is disappointed to be greeted only by his own echo. Feeling lonelier than ever, he thinks about his flower back on his asteroid; he misses the flower greatly, for she always had something to say.

As he travels on, the Little Prince comes upon a garden full of roses. He is disappointed when he realizes that all these flowers look just like his special flower back home, which was supposed to be one of a kind. He is sad to think that his flower has lied to him about being unique. He is also shocked to realize that the one possession that he really liked and felt was valuable has little value because of it commonness. Being upset by what he has seen and learned, the Prince lies down in the grass and cries.

Notes

The Prince climbs a mountain, erroneously thinking he would be able to see the entire Earth. From the top, he is disappointed by the view and the sound of his own voice echoing back. With no other being in sight, he feels lonelier than ever.

After descending the mountain, the Little Prince is shocked to see a garden of roses, which look just like his special flower at home. Both he and the flower had thought she was one of a kind, making her quite valuable. When he realizes that his flower is common and worthless, he lays down in the grass and cries. It is a touching picture of a broken-hearted little man who has invested all his love in his special flower.

 

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