The Little Prince & The Lessons It Teaches Us

Image+via+No+Wasted+Ink

Image via No Wasted Ink

Hazel Smith, Writer

Whenever someone asks me about my favorite book, The Little Prince always comes to mind. Oh, how this sweet story about a prince and a fox and a rose nudged its way into my heart and settled there! My copy of this novel is tattered and worn, the pages filled with underlines and notes and love. Perhaps the reason I hold this book so dear to my heart is that it addresses everything one wonders about- the human condition, love, loss, loneliness, and friendship. This little blonde boy with the bright green scarf making his way through life gives me hope for the journey my life will be. I hope to explore planets, fall in love with an enchanting rose, and befriend a playful fox.

Although a children’s book, this story is full of profound wisdom and philosophy. The way I interpreted it- the novel is about an adult (the aviator) meeting his inner child and confronting the loss of childhood spirit. In the beginning, the aviator explains what he was told as a child- that he should not pursue his dreams of being an artist. In the distant future, the aviator crashes his plane in the middle of the desert. He feels immense loneliness and isolation- until a little prince shows up requesting a drawing of a sheep. The aviator becomes enchanted with the little prince’s sense of wonder and admiration of beauty. The little prince brings him back to when he was a child and the dreams he held in his heart. 

Throughout the book, the little prince teaches the aviator and the reader many valuable lessons. The little prince’s journey throughout the galaxy represents a deeper search- the search for what is most important in life. He tells stories about his life in the galaxy- about terrible seeds that overgrow and destroy planets, about his intense love for sunsets, encounters with people on other planets and their twisted values, and the love he has for his rose. He explains the power of love to the aviator- “… it is enough to make him happy just to look at the stars. He can say to himself: ‘Somewhere my flower is there…’” Although the little prince helps the aviator a lot, the aviator also provides comfort to him. He listens carefully to the little prince’s lovely stories, holds him, and talks to him about worries and fears. 

The story of the little prince and his rose is an important one. It is a story of young love and loss, but also perhaps the potential toxicity of attachment, especially for young people. The rose appears on the prince’s planet, and he is almost immediately in love with her. He is astonished by how beautiful she is and begins caring for her. However, the rose soon takes advantage of him. The prince listens to her because he feels immense love for the flower, but it soon becomes too much. He explains that he was “too young to know how to love her.”  After the prince and the flower get into a fight, the little prince decides to leave his planet and the flower. Feeling incredibly guilty, the flower reveals that she did not need any of the things she had tormented the little prince by asking for, but all she needed was love. 

After leaving his planet, the prince travels to other planets in his galaxy and meets interesting people on each one. He meets a king who only cares about being powerful, a conceited man who only wants to be admired, an alcoholic, a businessman who only cares about the amount of money he has, a man whose job was to light the street lamp, and a geographer.  After meeting these people, the prince feels confused about what they value. He wonders why power, money, and admiration are so important. The only person he admires is the person who lights the lamp- because his job helps others. 

The next planet the little prince visits is Earth. He lands in the deserts of Africa and encounters a snake and a flower. He wonders what is so special about the earth- to him it seems dry and void of imagination. While on Earth, the prince also discovers a field of roses that look just like his rose- which brings him great sadness. Laying in the grass crying, he encounters a fox who teaches him about being tamed and establishing ties. The fox explains that although there are many foxes in the world, when one is tamed, they are unique to the one who has tamed them. “But if you tame me, we shall need each other. To me, you shall be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world.” The little prince soon tames the fox and learns the power of friendship and love. When it comes time to leave, the fox whispers the most important lesson in the story- “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

One of my favorite tokens from this book is the idea that stars mean something different to everyone. Each individual’s surroundings help to tell their unique story. I suppose that is what a really good book does- teaches us how to tell our story and how we fit among billions of other stories in the vast universe. The stars represent the immensity of the universe, which to some people is to say that we are insignificant. The little prince contradicts this. He believes that we are a significant piece of the universe because of how unique the stars are to us and our story.

Near the end of the book, the prince and the aviator are looking to find water and the aviator is listening to the prince’s stories. The aviator is worried about fixing his plane and wasting time, while the little prince is happy to tell stories, to simply be. This is one of the focal points of the book- where the aviator understands the point of view of the prince and how he lives. He understands the mysterious power of the sand, the stars, and even water, and sees the beauty hidden in everything. The aviator values “the radiance of the gifts” he received. To me, this moment in the book represents spiritual fulfillment- finally understanding what life is really about. It teaches us to visit our inner children, to learn from them. To return to the childhood spirit we once felt, and apply it to our modern lives. 

At the beginning of the book, the aviator is hopeless- he is stuck in a barren, desolate, wasteland. His mind has been shaped by adult ideas and he’s lost himself. But when he meets the little prince, he sees more than the desolation in front of him, but beyond it. He sees the stories that the animals and the plants tell. When children such as the aviator are told from a young age to not follow their dreams (in this case: the aviator’s dream of being an artist), they are forced to grow up and leave their childhood spirit behind. This book reminds me to not let go of who I was as a child- to hold on to the hopes and dreams I carried. The little prince and his story remind me to look for the beauty that exists everywhere. To see water as a precious gift from the earth, made just for you. To hold your friends as dearly as you may hold an exquisite rose. Most importantly, it teaches me about the overarching power of love and friendship. I believe we should all strive to think like the little prince- to seek out beautiful things.