Major Themes of The Little Prince
Children versus Grownups
The major theme in the novel is the contrast between grownups and children. Children are considered the most natural form of mankind that are still unaffected by society, they have a wide imagination and a love for thing that don’t always have to be practical. On the other end of the spectrum are the grownups who have lost their sense of imagination and exploration and wander aimlessly through life seeing things on the surface and overcome by greed and materialism.
The story of The Little Prince is written by the pilot in order to retain the memory of the prince so that he does not forget and become like the friendless grownups around him.
The Little Prince abandons his own planet in search for the truth and it is through exploration that he learns valuable lessons. Meanwhile the geographer claims to know everything but when prompted is proven wrong. The geographer claims that his life is too valuable for him to be off exploring like that.
The prince also meets a flower who has false information due to her inability to explore. It seems that knowledge is only real when it is acquired through one’s own experiences.
The fox teaches The Little Prince a valuable lesson that the ties that one establishes are what makes one unique from everyone else. When two people establish a relationship, they become unique to each other. It seems the purpose of one’s life is to establish ties, otherwise everyone appears to be the same with no distinction. It is only when someone touches your heart that you see them as one of a kind.
The Folly of Human Nature
Each planet the prince visits contains an inhabitant that represents a flaw in society as well as humanity. The king represents man’s thirst for power and domination, the drunkard represents man’s irrationality, the business man represents man’s greed, the vain man represents man’s desire to be admired and so on.
After the little prince sees all these specimens, the narrator tells the readers that all these specimens exist on planet earth and make up a large sum of the population. This is Saint-Exupéry’s criticism of the bad habits in society.
The Baobab Tree
The baobab tree is a major symbol in the novel. In its literal meaning it is only a tree that appears small but if left to grow can result into a major catastrophe for The Little Prince’s planet. This is all metaphorical for the bad habits like those exhibited on each planet the prince visited that may seem little but when neglected can grow dangerous and destroy society and therefore Earth. The Baobab tree is yet another lesson amongst many of which are imparted by this magnificent tale.
When the prince encounters a merchant that sells a pill that could reduce ones thirst and save one fifty three hours a week, he becomes only more convinced that it is the pursuit of something that makes it so precious and sweet. The lesson to be taken is that exploration and empirical knowledge is better than being fed things that aren’t true or that you haven’t worked hard to achieve.