For readers who would like a quick reminder of the book and its main storyline, here is a summary of The Little Prince’s travels and those he met along the way.
If Saint-Exupéry is to be believed The Little Prince is a book for children written for grown-ups. It can be read on many different levels to provide pleasure and food for thought for readers of all ages.
The author, an aviator, crashes with his aeroplane in the middle of the Sahara desert. While he is trying to repair his aeroplane, a little boy appears and asks him to draw a sheep. The author learns that The Little Prince comes from asteroid B-612 where he has left behind three volcanoes and a rose.
Before reaching Earth, he has visited other planets and met some very odd people: a king, a conceited man, a drunkard, a lamplighter, a geographer… Since arriving on Earth, he has spoken to a fox who has taught him that to know someone or something, you must « tame » them, and that makes them unique. « What is essential is invisible to the eye, says the fox. »
In order to return to his planet and his rose, The Little Prince allows himself to be bitten by a poisonous snake: his planet is too far away, he cannot take his « shell ». The aviator, who has succeeded in repairing his plane, also quits the desert. He still hopes The Little Prince will return one day and asks us to write and tell him if ever we should meet his friend.
More about the planets visited by the Little Prince
Each planet the Little Prince visits can be seen as an allegory of human nature. If you have already read the book, we invite you now to take a new look at the different planets.
The king – asteroid B 325
In the book, the Little Prince meets a king who claims to rule over all with absolute power. His only “subject”, however, is an old rat that he hears at night. The king exercises his power over the sun by ordering it to set – but only at sunset. In order not to lose face, this oddity of a king gives only “reasonable” orders (“I order you to sit down”) – as good a way as any to satisfy his thirst for power. The Little Prince is not fooled, however, and sees the monarch as no more than another odd grown-up.
The conceited man – asteroid B 326
Wearing a hat as showy as it is ridiculous, the conceited man sees himself as the handsomest and the most intelligent man on his tiny planet. The Little Prince reminds the conceited man that he is, in fact, all alone on his planet, but still the conceited man wishes to be admired and applauded. The Little Prince is perplexed by such insistent vanity: “Grown-ups are really very odd,” he says to himself.
The drunkard –asteroid B 327
He lives alone with his collection of bottles and spends his time drinking to forget that he is ashamed of drinking. To the Little Prince, it is clear that the drunkard is deeply unhappy, and he wants to help. The drunkard, however, withdraws into sadness and silence. The Little Prince is left perplexed by this adult who sees no way out of his misery.
The businessman – asteroid B 328
The businessman is a large gentleman who is so very busy that he does not even have time to light his cigarette. He spends his time counting stars, which he claims to own. Then he writes down the numbers on a piece of paper that he puts in the bank. The Little Prince tries to make him see that he is wasting his life and that “owning” means being useful to what you own. He speaks of his rose, which he waters and protects. The businessman is left speechless, and the Little Prince once again finds grown-ups to be very disappointing.
The lamplighter – asteroid B 329
The Little Prince is initially rather charmed by this character. His job is a useful one: to light the lamp at sunset. But the speed of rotation of the lamplighter’s planet is increasing all the time, and the poor lamplighter is forever putting out his lamp and immediately lighting it again. “Orders are orders,” says the lamplighter to the Little Prince who, in spite of everything, can only admire the effort this grown-up puts into being faithful to his orders.
The geographer – Asteroid B 330
The geographer is an old gentleman who writes down, in thick books, the information brought to him by explorers. His planet is vast and magnificent, but he has no way of knowing whether it has rivers and mountains because “the geographer is far too important to waste his time browsing around”. The geographer is someone who needs the stories of others in order to know things; for the Little Prince, on the other hand, it takes effort to know things. It is the geographer who advises the Little Prince to visit Earth because, he says, it has “a good reputation”.