The Little Prince Summary
The novel starts as the narrator laments on his childhood as he constantly tried to draw a Boa Constrictor eating an elephant. When he would show grownups his drawing they would constantly assume that it was a hat despite all his efforts in drawing it differently. The grownups around him encouraged him to quit drawing and pay more attention to more practical things and so he became a pilot.
As a pilot the narrator would encounter many grownups and when he would sense that any of those grownups were perceptive, he would put them to the test and show them his drawing and he would ask them what they saw. To his dismay and disappointment, the answer would constantly be “a hat”. By this cleaver test, the pilot would know to discuss superficial things with the grownups he would encounter rather than stars and things that would require an imaginative mind.
The Pilot spends his life in solitude until one day his plane crashes in the Sahara Desert. While he attempts to fix his engine, he hears a little voice from behind telling him to draw him a sheep. The little voice came from The Little Prince who seemed unaffected by the harsh weather conditions in the Sahara.
As The Pilot tries to draw a sheep, the prince is displeased saying that one is too old, the other resembles a goat and another seems ill. In his frustration the Pilot draws a box with holes in it and tells the Little Prince that the sheep is inside. The prince is pleased with this drawing as it appeases his imagination. The Little Prince also ignores the Pilot’s questions as to why he is here.
The Pilot explains to The Little Prince that he was flying an airplane when he fell out of the sky. Amused, The Little Prince asks The Pilot what planet he came from and he discovers that The Prince comes from a small planet by the name of asteroid B-612.
The narrator explains that the asteroid was discovered by a Turkish astronomer in 1909 whose discoveries were refused at first due to the fact that he presented his findings in a Turkish costume. His discoveries were later applauded after he presented them in European clothes. These details are presented by Saint-Exupery in order to satirize the superficial nature of mankind.
The Little Prince asks the Pilot if a sheep could eat a baobab tree, but the pilot responds that not even masses of elephants could eat a single baobab tree. The Little Prince then states the fact that before they grow into a magnificent size, a baobab tree is no larger than a rose bush and could be easily weeded out. The narrator then explains that the baobab trees pose a threat to The Little Prince’s small planet and we later discover that pulling out baobab trees is a part of the prince’s morning routine on his little planet.
Later on, The Little Prince expresses his desire to see the sunset. But the Pilot exclaims that the sun will only set later on in the day. With this the reader learns that The Little Prince could see the sunset whenever he pleased in his home planet, all he needed to do was walk and relocate to a different spot. The Little Prince claims that he had once seen the sun set forty four times in one day. He also states that he watches the sunset when he is sad. It seems that the prince wants to see the sunset at that moment because he is homesick.
One day The Little Prince asks The Pilot if sheep eat flowers with thorns. The Pilot responds while preoccupied with fixing his engine that sheep would eat anything in their way. The Little Prince is upset by The Pilot’s response and asks him what the thorns are for if not to protect the flowers. The Pilot responds that thorns are useless and that flowers only have them for spite. The Little Prince immediately becomes defensive and says that flowers are weak creatures whose only reassurance is their powerful thorns.
Meanwhile, The Pilot becomes increasingly irritated and impatient and tells The Little Prince that he is busy with “ Matters of consequence”. The Little Prince is hurt by that response and so he accuses The Pilot of behaving like the grownups who only care of superficial things. The Prince begins to tell The Pilot as well as the readers of his one and only unique rose that could be taken away by the sheep.
The Pilot returns to his senses and seeks to comfort the prince and tells him that he will draw a muzzle for the sheep. The Little Prince begins to introduce the character of the rose who he found growing as a shrub in his home planet. As the rose grew she became vain and asked for a glass globe to shield her from the cold nights which she claimed she was not accustomed to. The Prince begins to realize that she could not possibly remember where she came from as a seed and begins to grow unhappy with her dishonesty.
The Little Prince admits that he should not have left his rose and that he was too young and naïve to love her properly. The Little Prince cleans his three volcanoes, pulls out a few baobab trees and waters his rose before he resolves to leave his planet with a flock of migrating birds. When the little prince came to place the glass shield on the rose and say goodbye, she apologizes for her behavior and confesses her love for him and prevents him from placing the glass shield on her. Instead she says that she does not need it and that she can defend herself with her thorns.
The Prince visits numerous asteroids, each with a single inhabitant representing and satirizing a feature in grownups and society as a whole. He comes across a planet with a King who orders The Little Prince not to yawn. When The Little Prince says its involuntary, he orders him to yawn and the prince says he cannot do that either. The Little Prince sees through The King’s façade and asks him what he rules over if his planet is empty, the king says he rules over the entire universe and The Little Prince asks him to showcase his authority by ordering the sun to set.
The King says that it is not yet appropriate and instead says that he will order the sun to set at twenty minutes to eight (The time the sun actually sets). The Little Prince becomes bored and resolves to move onto another planet. The King in his desperate need to exercise his authority appoints The Little Prince as his Ambassador so it would appear that it was The King who sent him away.
The Little Prince goes on to meet a vain man who seeks to be admired. The man asks the prince if he admires him and The Little Prince asks what that means. The man says that in order for someone to be admired they must be the best in the planet. He then moves on to another planet where he encounters a drunkard who is stuck in a cycle of addiction and drinks because he is ashamed of drinking.
Then he encounters a businessman who keeps track of stars in order to own them rather than enjoy their beauty. Later he encounters a lamp lighter who lights a lamp and blows it out every thirty seconds. The Little Prince is aware of the absurdity of all the inhabitants of all the five planets he had visited, but confesses that the Lamplighter is the least absurd of all as he serves the greater good and in his selflessness the Lamplighter sacrifices the thing he desires the most, his sleep.
The Little Prince moves on to another planet that is much larger than the ones he had landed on before. He encounters a geographer who claims to be a man of knowledge who knows the location of everything in the universe. But when The Little Prince asks him what his planet has, the geographer says that he does not know as he is way too valuable to go exploring.
The geographer takes an interest in the prince and asks him what his planet has. The Little Prince responds that his planet is unimportant and only has three volcanoes and a rose. The geographer says that he does not count flowers because they are momentary creatures and recommends that he visits planet Earth.
When the little prince lands on planet Earth, he meets a flower which knows nothing and tells the little prince that there are only a few inhabitants on the planet. He also meets a snake who speaks in riddles and in fact wanted to poison him but then decides not to when he sees his innocence. The snake tells the little prince that he will ‘take him home’ when he is too homesick.
The narrator stresses the fact that the earth has all the specimens of grownups that The Little Prince has met and all of those make up approximately 2,000,000,000. While the prince explored earth, he came across a row of roses all of which resemble the rose he himself had. He realizes that his rose was not so unique and special after all. Little did he know that he would meet a fox that would change his perception.
When the little prince shows his grief as he cries in a field of grass, he encounters the fox who teaches him the philosophy of being tamed. The fox says that there are many foxes and many little boys in the universe but when one establishes strong ties and becomes tamed by the other, they become unique to each other. The fox tells The Little Prince that the rose has tamed him and that the time they spent together makes them unique to each other.
The fox asks the little prince to tame him and he does so, but when it is time for the prince to leave, the fox is saddened and begins to cry. However the fox tells the prince that regardless of how sad he feels, being tamed was good for him and that he will always hold his memory dear and think of him whenever he would see the color of wheat grain that matches that of his hair.
The next time The Little Prince sees the bed of roses, he tells them that they are untamed and that they are not like his own rose that is unique to him. As the fox and the prince part, he teaches him a valuable lesson to look with his heart and not with his eyes. The Little Prince then meets a railway switchman and asks where the grownups travel by train, the man replies that they go aimlessly from place to place without any idea what they are seeking, the only ones who care to look out of the window of the train are the children. The Little Prince says that the children are the only ones who know what they are seeking.
The Little Prince then meets a merchant that’s selling a pill that allegedly quenches the thirst and saves one 53 minutes a week. The Little Prince exclaims that if he had fifty three extra minutes he would spend them in the pursuit of fresh water. For there is nothing sweeter than the satisfactory fruit that comes from hard work.
The story ends as the little prince and the pilot find water after eight days of thirst. However after the bond they shared The Little Prince exclaims that it was the one year anniversary of the day he descended to earth. It was time for the prince to go back home and so he ordered the pilot not to follow him to the snake because it might hurt him to see the little prince appear to be dead.
The pilot follows the little prince anyway and watches as he disappears, his body never to be found. Before his disappearance the prince asks the pilot to draw a muzzle for the sheep, but 6 years later as the pilot tells the story to commemorate the little prince, he laments on the fact that he had discovered that he forgot to add a strap on the muzzle and worries that the sheep may have eaten the rose.