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

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THE LITTLE PRINCE: LITERARY ANALYSIS / BOOK REPORT / BOOK REVIEW

OVERALL ANALYSIS

CHARACTER ANALYSIS

MAJOR CHARACTERS

The Narrator

The narrator is present throughout the book to tell the story of his friendship with the Little Prince and comment on what he has learned from him. He is very attracted to the Prince, largely because he is childlike, innocent, and pure. The narrator admits that he prefers the openness, honesty, and naiveté of children to the pretensions and blindness of adults, who cannot see beyond the surface of life. The narrator feels very close to the Little Prince because he is able to see the truth and importance of things. Even after six years, he remembers everything about this little man from another planet; as a result, he writes the book in memory of him.

Ever since childhood, the narrator has felt frustration with adults. As a young boy, he drew pictures of a boa constrictor eating an elephant, but none of the adults could see beyond the surface of the picture to the real meaning. They all claimed the drawing looked like a hat. When the narrator explained what the picture really was, the adults suggested that he give up drawing and purpose his academic studies. When the narrator show the Little Prince a drawing of a boa eating an elephant, he immediately recognizes it for what it is. The narrator is greatly impressed and instantly likes the Little Prince.

The narrators airplane crashes into the desert. While he is trying to repair it, the Little Prince suddenly appears and asks him to draw a picture of a sheep for him. Soon a strong bond of friendship develops between the two of them. The Prince, by sharing his experiences with the narrator, teaches him about life and love.

When the Prince decides to leave earth and return to his star, the narrator is sad. He feels he has been tamed by the Little Prince and knows he will miss his company; however, he will never forget his friendship with the special person from another star. At the very end of the book, in the final chapter that serves as an epilogue, the narrator grows sentimental. He asks the readers to inform him if they ever meet the Little Prince in some lonely desert.

The Little Prince

The Little Prince is the main character and protagonist of the novel. The book is the story of his search for answers about what is important in life.


The Little Prince has always lived on a distant star, Asteroid B-612. One day a new flower grows up on his planet. He finds the plant to be lovely and believes it is one of a kind in the universe; as a result, he believes himself to be a rich man, the owner of a unique and valuable treasure. He nurtures and cares for the flower, making sure that no harm comes to it. Unfortunately, the flower also believes herself to be beautiful and unique. Because of her vanity, she exaggerates about herself more and more. Finally, the Little Prince can stand her bragging no more. He decides to leave his star to get away from the flower and to travel to various planets, seeking the answers to life.

Before he arrives on earth, the Little Prince visits five planets. On each of them he learns a new lesson. For example, from the switchman he learns that it is crazy to rush forward through life, never happy with the place where one finds himself. From the businessman, he learns that most wealthy people are too busy counting their assets to appreciate and enjoy life. From the geographer, he learns that facts and figures often hide the real meaning of life.

Finally, the Prince reaches planet Earth and finds himself in a desert. The first creature he meets is a snake, who promises that he can send the Little Prince back to his star when he is ready. The Prince never forgets the snakes promise and later returns to the creature to seek his assistance. The Little Prince then meets a fox who teaches him the most important lesson of all: one cannot really see with ones eye; instead one must feel with ones heart in order to understand the true meaning of things. Because of the fox, the Little Prince begins to understand the he really loves his flower and needs to return to his star to take care of her.

Next the Little Prince meets the narrator, whose airplane has crashed in the desert. The two of them become friends, and the Little Prince tells him about his travels to the other planets and what he has learned from each of them. He also tells him what he has learned from the fox. The narrator is charmed by the Little Prince because of his sincerity, truthfulness, and child-like innocence and purity. He feels that the Prince has actually tamed him, just as the Prince tamed the fox. When he realizes that the Little Prince is going home, the narrator is greatly saddened, knowing he will miss his friend.

Before the Prince is bitten by the snake and returns to his star, he gives the narrator one last direction. He tells him to look up at the stars and imagine them laughing; then he is to think about the Little Prince and their friendship.

Many critics see the Little Prince as a Christ figure. Like Jesus, the Prince descends to earth to live for a short while. Also like Christ, he is good and pure; he also has the ability to know things before they happen. During his stay, the Little Prince, like Jesus, teaches others the value of love and seeing beneath the surface to the real worth of things. In addition, the Little Prince shares a last supper of water with the narrator before he dies. After his death, the Little Princes body is resurrected to ascend to his star, his own little heaven.

The Fox

The fox is another important character, for he teaches the Little Prince the most important lesson in the book. The fox meets the Prince when the latter is disappointed and lonely. He has just seen the garden of roses and realized that his flower is common, not unique and valuable as he had imagined. The fox, however, teaches the Prince that one cannot judge another by seeing with the eyes; instead, one has to see and judge with the heart. As a result, the Little Prince realizes that his flower is really very special, for he has loved and cared for it.

The fox asks the Little Prince to tame him. He explains that one is tamed by being loved and valued. Since the Prince invests time and energy into the fox, the animal does become tame, and a close friendship develops between the two of them. The Little Prince always remembers the teachings of the fox, who proves that he is wise indeed.

 

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