The Little Prince
How we cite our quotes:
But the flower was not satisfied to complete the preparations for her beauty in the shelter of her green chamber. She chose her colours with the greatest care. She dressed herself slowly. She adjusted her petals one by one. She did not wish to go out into the world all rumpled, like the field poppies. It was only in the full radiance of her beauty that she wished to appear. (8.2)
The flower is sweet and cute in her naiveté. She doesn’t realize that there are grander, more “adult” concerns out in the world. She doesn’t realize that there are so many other flowers just like her.
And the little prince asked himself:
“How could he recognize me when he had never seen me before?”
He did not know how the world is simplified for kings. To them, all men are subjects. (10.4-6)
At first, when reading this passage, we might think that the prince is the more innocent one. He’s the one who hasn’t heard of how kings view the world or what kings do (even though he’s a prince). As the narrator explains, the prince “did not know how the world is simplified for kings.”
But, if we look closer, it starts to seem like maybe the kings are the innocent ones—even foolishly innocent, perhaps. The kings think “all men are subjects” and look at the world in a simplified way. Maybe they’re the ones who haven’t had enough exposure.
“I ought not to have listened to her,” he confided to me one day. “One never ought to listen to the flowers. One should simply look at them and breathe their fragrance. Mine perfumed all my planet. But I did not know how to take pleasure in all her grace. This tale of claws, which disturbed me so much, should only have filled my heart with tenderness and pity.” (8.13)
The prince looks back at his younger self and feels wiser in comparison. By traveling, he has learned how he should have behaved when reacting to the grandiose claims of his naïve flower.