The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery
3 out of 5 stars
Okay, I'll just say it flat out...I didn't really "get" this book. Maybe I'm reading too much into it or maybe not enough, I don't know. I know there's probably some big lesson I should be getting out of it, but I didn't. It was a sweet, sad little story yes, but I know I missed the big picture. Those of you who have read it, help me out here? And if you haven't read it, go try and let me know what you think! (Spoilers here, of course.)
So, this is the story of a little prince from a far off star planet who arrives on Earth. He befriends a pilot whose plane has gone down in the middle of the desert and as the man is trying to fix it, the prince keeps him occupied with stories of his travels. First, he tells of his own little planet, with its beautifully unique flower, three volcanoes (one extinct), and forty-four sunsets a day. Then he begins to tell of the people and beings he has met on the other planets: a king who rules only over himself, a conceited man who demands admiration, a drunk who drinks because he is ashamed of his drinking. Each person he meets imparts a lesson or bit of wisdom on the boy.
"One must require from each one the duty which each one can perform."
"Then you shall judge yourself. That is the most difficult thing of all. It is much more difficult to judge oneself than to judge others. If you succeed in judging yourself rightly, then you are indeed a man of true wisdom."
Then there is the businessman who collects the stars in a bank of numbers, the lamplighter, and the geographer who does not explore.
"Little golden objects that set lazy men to idle dreaming."
"Ah! You mean the stars?"
And finally, he arrives on Earth, where he meets a snake who promises to help send him back to his star when he is ready. He meets a garden full of roses, exactly like the flower he left behind. "I thought that I was rich, with a flower that was unique in all the world; and all I had was a common rose. That doesn't make me a very great prince." He tames a fox and learns a valuable lesson about his flower and himself.
"It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."
And then he meets the pilot. He asks the man to draw him a sheep to take home with him and a box to keep him in. The man listens, sometimes impatiently, to the prince's stories and on the eighth day, they must go in search of water or die. They magically find a well and drink the golden water and there, the prince tells the man that the anniversary of his trip is coming up and it is time for him to return home. The man does not understand at first and then tries to talk the boy out of it, but it is no use. He cannot take his body back to his star with him and so must leave it there. The snake is back to help him on his journey and the prince gives one last gift to the man.
"And at night you will look up at the stars. My star will just be one of the stars, for you. And so you will love to watch all the stars in the heavens...they will all be your friends."