The Little Summary- a book summary.
By Ningwa Shakti Limbu
The Little Prince (Le Petit Prince, written by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry) is a short novella about the paradoxes of adulthood and the loneliness of growing up. It’s a story about an aviator (an old word for “pilot”) who finds himself in the desert with an unusual boy, both of whom have fallen from the sky. It’s a story about the naivety and pureness of youth teaching an adult to find joy in the stars. It’s a story about love and friendship, the matters of your heart, of things that you can only feel, instead of know.
Once upon a time, there was an Aviator who lonely among men. He was lonely for grown-ups were only concerned with things that rarely mattered like the size of ones houses or mathematics. But he was a imaginative soul, and his heart yearned to paint and draw things that could only been seen with depth. And grown-ups never really had the time to look at useless things like those. Once he had drawn a Boa Constrictor (which is a snake from the Amazon forest) with an elephant in its belly, to demonstrate ferocity and danger . Everyone saw a hat instead, and they told him to learn more useful things like arithmetic, linguistics and science. And this he followed, into the loneliness among men.
One day, while he was flying over the Sahara desert, he crashed and woke up to find a little boy asking him to draw a sheep. The event was simply so weird that he had no chance but to obey. Alas, he only knew how to draw one thing. The boy rejected his drawing of an elephant inside sheep, and demanded a sheep instead. Though surprised that the boy saw the drawing for what it was, the aviator drew a sheep to the best of his abilities. But the boy rejected it, claiming it was too sick. And this went on and on. Finally, after the fourth rejection the frustrated Aviator drew a box with holes in it and told the boy the sheep was inside. This the boy accepted. And that is how the narrator of “The Little Prince” came to meet the little prince.
The Little Prince was mysterious and elusive, and also a little sad for some reason. But over time, the Aviator came to know his story, bit by bit. He had come from an asteroid, barely bigger than himself, with three volcanoes and hidden baobab seeds. Everyday, the Little Prince would dutifully clean his volcanoes and dig up any sprouting baobab seeds, because his small asteroid was always in danger of being overrun by humongous, terrifying baobabs trees. One day, a new seed appeared on his planet. The prince waited and waited, until it bloomed into a beautiful rose, unlike anything he had ever seen. The rose, for all her beauty, was very vain and soon became very nagging and demanding, pestering the prince constantly about cold and imaginary winds, at the same time bragging about her four thorns and her beauty. Eventually, the prince grew of her, and decided to leave the asteroid. Only now, too late, did the little prince realize that his rose, as annoying as she was, had indeed loved him very much. She did not show it with her words, but she had shared with him, her beauty and her fragrance. Too bad, the little prince had been too young to understand and appreciate this grace .
The Little Prince wandered through space meeting curious figures along the way. A grandiose king who was lonely for someone to rule over. An alcoholic who drank to forget his shame of being an alcoholic. A businessman who counted the stars to own them, without enjoying them for what they were. A lamplighter on a planet where the day was one minute long, so he had to dutifully light and snuff the lamp every 30 seconds. A geographer who did not believe in recording temporary things like flowers. The Little Prince traveled all these planets and found himself increasingly perplexed with grown-ups until he came to our planet, Earth.
Unfortunately, The Little Prince landed in the largest desert in the world. He didn’t meet any man, at first. He met a snake who spoke in riddles. The snake told him of the loneliness among men, the massiveness of planet Earth, and his innocence . The snake promised to help him one day, if the Little Prince grew too homesick, to send him back to the place he came from.
Similar to his journey among the stars, the Little Prince wandered the planet to meet a cast of curious characters, but these occurrences were much more mysterious on our planet. A bland flower in the sand. An echo in the mountains. A railway worker sorting travelers back and forth. A merchant selling pills to quench your thirst. And a garden full of roses, just like his own. Encountering this garden, full of the Rose that he thought was unique to him, he was overcome with sadness and cried and cried.
It was then, the Little Prince met the Fox for the first time.
The Fox asked to be tamed- which meant to make a connection to someone. To be tamed by someone, he explained, was learning to love them. While he was one fox among a hundred thousand, if he were to be tamed by the Little Prince, they would learn to need each other. Among all the hundred thousand men and hundred thousand foxes in the world, they alone would know each other. And so, the Little Prince decided to tame the Fox. Slowly, gradually, day by day, because taming someone takes time and ritual, the Fox and the Little Prince grew to be closer and closer. The Fox, previously so bored by the dumbness of chickens and routine of hunters, slowly began to find joy in the smallest things-the Little Prince’s footsteps as he walked to him and the color of wheat which reminded him of the Little Prince’s hair.
And so, when it was time for the Little Prince to leave, and the Fox was about to cry, he came to realize something very important. He had been tamed by his Rose who he had left on his planet. He had spent countless time, much like he had with the Fox, watering her, preening her, sheltering her, protecting her, loving her. It was exactly this time he spend with his Rose that made her so important to him. And because he had tamed her, he would always be responsible for her. People became responsible, forever, for what they tamed. And that is how the Little Prince left the Fox.
It was on the eighth day of the Little Prince and the Aviator’s meeting that he finished telling him his story. Coincidentally, their water supply ran out. And the Prince and the Aviator took to the desert to look for a well. Along the way, the Little Prince remarked that the desert was beautiful because of the precious water hidden in its depths. When they found a well, the Little Prince decided to give the Aviator a gift, for the Aviator’s plane was nearly fixed, and he was leaving and he must say goodbye properly. The Little Prince told the Aviator that he too, was going home. And that from then on, he would know that he was in the stars, and when he laughed, all the stars would laugh with him, for the Aviator.
In the end, on their last night together, the Little Prince left the Aviator and looked for the snake he had met so long ago. The snake bit him, and sent him back home. The Aviator was sad. But he never stopped drawing again. And he wrote this book .
At the core of “The Little Prince” is a simple truth that a lot of have forgotten, and only a few of us relearn, that the true value of things can only be felt with your heart, rather than seen with your eye. Like the Fox says in the book, “What is essential is invisible to the eye” All these grown-ups in this book, and all of us, tend to be too focused, on quantities, appearances, social status, logic. But underneath it all, aren’t we all striving for something else? Isn’t it more important to be with those we love? Isn’t it more important to do things that bring you joy, rather than follow the status quo? Isn’t it more important to know the character of someone, than their salary, their looks, or their house? Is creativity and imagination really as unimportant as numbers and facts? In the end, we, grown-ups are lacking an important part of ourselves if we choose to ignore our hearts.
Here's an animated video summary of the touching story: