The Little Prince
How we cite our quotes:
But the conceited man did not hear him. Conceited people never hear anything but praise.
“Do you really admire me very much?” he demanded of the little prince. (11.12-13)
Each of the men the prince meets while traveling is foolish in his own way. That’s because each of them sees the world narrowly, through his particular point of view. For example, the conceited man can’t imagine that the prince would say anything that isn’t complimentary because he can’t “hear anything but praise.” He has no concept of a conversation that doesn’t end with a compliment in his direction. Is this foolishness also a form of innocence? What do you think?
The grown-ups, to be sure, will not believe you when you tell them that. They imagine that they fill a great deal of space. They fancy themselves as important as the baobabs. You should advise them, then, to make their own calculations. They adore figures, and that will please them. But do not waste your time on this extra task. It is unnecessary. You have, I know, confidence in me. (17.2)
Once again, the narrator compares grown-ups unfavorably to children. He describes adults in the same way that adults sometimes describe children, saying that they’re almost touchingly naïve in their mistaken belief systems.
“Whomever I touch, I send back to the earth from whence they came,” the snake spoke again. “But you are innocent and true, and you come from a star…” (17.25)
Although they’ve only just met and are still in the middle of their first conversation, the snake can already read the prince’s true character and understand what’s special about him. And what he understands is that the prince is “innocent and true, and come[s] from a star.” Really, what else do you need to know about the prince? Those seem like his defining characteristics. The snake right away sees things as they really are.