The Little Prince: analysis and summary of the book

The Little Prince is a short story by French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. The story centers on a little prince who goes on a journey through the universe. On this journey he discovers the strange way adults see life and understands the value of love and friendship.

The book is considered one of the best books of all time and a contemporary classic of world literature. Because of its simple and direct style, it has been considered a children’s book. However, its reflective character on life, society and love, make it a narrative of interest to all.

It was published in April 1943 in the United States, since, due to World War II, the work could not be printed in France. The book has been translated into dozens of languages and adapted to various formats, such as theater, cinema, animated series, ballet and opera.

Summary of The Little Prince

The Little Prince tells the story of a pilot who, while trying to repair his broken plane in the middle of the Sahara desert, meets a little prince from the asteroid B 612. He insistently asks him to draw him a lamb and never forgets a question.

The pilot will begin to discover the fascinating story of the little prince, which begins on his asteroid, where he lived with three volcanoes and entertained himself by pulling weeds and watching sunsets.

One day, on the floor of the asteroid, a flower is born. The little prince takes care of it and tends it with dedication, but the flower is dramatic and capricious, and this bothers him. So he decides to leave his home and embark on a journey through the universe in search of a friend.

On the journey, which will take the little prince to visit several asteroids until he reaches Earth, he will meet a varied group of eccentric characters that will convince him of how strange the world of adults is, always so busy with serious and important matters that they forget to enjoy life.

On Earth, he will come into contact with animals, flowers and people. It will be there where, before meeting the pilot, he will meet the fox, who will reveal to him the importance of friendship and the value of the love he feels for his flower. It will be the nostalgia for her and the disappointment caused by the adult world that will motivate him to return to his planet.

Analysis of The Little Prince

The essential is invisible to the eye.

This phrase is said by the fox to the little prince. It means that the true value of things escapes the eyes, but not the heart. It is a reflection on those things that, sometimes, we are not able to see, because we observe them with a superficial look. It is not always the most important thing that is evident. This is a constant in the book, which calls us to see beyond appearances.

It was the time you spent with your rose that made it so important.

The phrase is said by the fox to the little prince. It means that relationships and affections are cultivated over time and that is what makes them valuable to us. It reflects on the importance of dedicating time to the things we love and on the responsibility of being constant in our relationships, whether of friendship or love.

If you come, for example, at four o’clock in the afternoon, I will be happy from three o’clock on.

This phrase is said by the fox to the little prince. It expresses the happiness that friendship produces in us and the way in which this affection is shown in the imperious need we feel to see someone we love. It also speaks of the importance of meeting the expectations of the people we love and the responsibility we assume before them.

You are forever responsible for what you have tamed.

The phrase is said by the fox to the little prince. It means that when we have cultivated a relationship, friendship or love with another person, this makes us co-responsible for the progress of that relationship. It reminds us that when we have “domesticated” a relationship with another person, we have become very important to each other, and we cannot abandon each other.

We must only ask of each other what each can give.

This phrase is said by the king to the little prince. The king was incapable of ordering anything that could not be fulfilled. He said that in order to be obeyed, one should only command what others were willing to do. It is a phrase that speaks about the importance of goodness in power.

Characters and elements

The Little Prince

The Little Prince is the main character of the story. He lives on an asteroid, which he left to travel the universe in search of a friend.

When he arrives on Earth he meets the pilot, to whom he tells his impressions about the world of adults, always so busy with their own affairs, and their inability to give value to the things that are really important in life.

He represents the child in all of us and the feelings of love, hope and innocence that fuel our lives. His way of seeing the world motivates the pilot to write the story to rediscover the child he once was.

The Pilot

The pilot is the narrator of the story. He meets him when his plane breaks down in the middle of the Sahara desert.

When he was a child he wanted to be a cartoonist, but adults dissuaded him from his purpose. He finds in the little prince a friend, who understands his drawings and teaches him, through his stories and his actions, the true value of things. The pilot portrays the importance of following our dreams.

The Flower

The flower is the little prince’s love object, but his relationship with it is difficult. Although he cares for her and protects her fervently, she is proud, melodramatic and capricious. Her behavior confuses him to such an extent that he decides to embark on a journey across the universe to separate from her.

It is her memory that makes the little prince return to his planet. It symbolizes love, which must be cultivated and cared for every day.

The fox

The fox is the first friend the little prince meets on his journey. He explains to him that friendship is a process of domestication, in which two people enter into a unique relationship, where both need each other.

It is he who teaches the little prince the value of friendship and who leads him to reflect on the relationship he had cultivated with his flower, since he loved her.

The lamb and the box

The little prince asks the pilot to draw him a lamb, but he is not satisfied with the result. The pilot draws a box and tells the pilot that his lamb is inside. Then the little prince admits that this is what he wanted.

This drawing represents the power of imagination.

The elephant inside the boa

The narrator tells how, when he was a child, he drew an elephant inside a boa, but the adults didn’t understand the drawing, they barely saw a hat, so they advised him to give up drawing and devote himself to important things. Because of this, the narrator forgets his drawing career and becomes a pilot.

Years later, when he meets the little prince, he shows him the drawing and he understands it instantly. This drawing symbolizes how deceptive appearances can be and how the misunderstanding of others can motivate us to make wrong decisions.

The Astronomer

A Turkish astronomer was the discoverer of asteroid B 612, home of the little prince. However, when he presented his discovery at a large congress of astronomers, no one gave credence to his finding because of his attire.

Years later, he made the presentation again, elegantly dressed in European style, and this time, everyone accepted his discovery.

In this sense, it makes us reflect on the exaggerated importance that we sometimes give to people’s appearance, leading us to judge them negatively, without listening to them and without really knowing them.

The Baobabs

Every day, the little prince cleans the soil of his planet of weeds, preventing that one of them could be a baobab.

The baobabs worry him, because they are trees that can grow too big, to the point of destroying his small planet.

The discipline shows the importance of preventive thinking and tackling problems early, before they become too big.

The snake

The snake is the first character with whom the little prince converses on Earth. He is a wise character, who speaks in an enigmatic way. In this sense, it has clear biblical resonances. He is the one who sends him back home, thanks to his poisonous bite.

The King

The king is a character who claims to rule the entire universe. Despite his eagerness to command, he is a good-hearted man: he only gives orders that others can follow.

Since the king cannot get the little prince to stay on his planet to serve him as a subject, he appoints him as his ambassador. In this way, he represents man’s absurd need for power.

The Drunkard

The drunkard is a character who drinks to forget the shame of drinking. The little prince is saddened and amazed by his attitude. He represents those people who, in order to escape from reality, take refuge in a vice.

The Businessman

The businessman is a character too busy with his accounts to pay attention to the little prince.

He thinks he is rich and that he has all the stars in the universe. He is a symbol of adults who spend their lives enslaved by the idea of a ridiculous possession and are unable to recognize the value of the life they are wasting.

The Lamplighter

The lamplighter is one of the characters that the little prince likes the most, because at least he performs a useful task. His goal is to light a lantern at night, which he must then extinguish during the day. However, his planet spins so fast that his work becomes exhausting. He represents people who give themselves thoughtlessly to their tasks, without reflecting on the meaning of their actions.

The geographer

He is a man with a great deal of knowledge about geography. When the little prince asks him about the geography of his own planet, he discovers that, paradoxically, he knows nothing about it.

This character represents the inability to realize the value of what is within our reach, of our reality. It is he who reveals to the little prince the ephemeral condition of flowers, which saddens him greatly.

The vain

The vain one is an eccentric character, who lives alone on his planet, but who has an enormous need to be admired and praised by others. He is a representation of those who only care about what others think of them.

About Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, author of The Little Prince, was born in Lyon, France, in 1900, and died on the island of Riou in 1944. He was an aviator and writer. Part of his experience as a pilot inspired him to write The Little Prince. Most of his literary production was written during his exile in the United States, where he was assigned to convince the American government to declare war on Germany during World War II.