The Little Prince
How we cite our quotes:
“Certainly. When you find a diamond that belongs to nobody, it is yours. When you discover an island that belongs to nobody, it is yours. When you get an idea before any one else, you take out a patent on it: it is yours. So with me: I own the stars, because nobody else before me ever thought of owning them.” (13.38)
The businessman claims to “own the stars” based on an idea of originality: he thinks that “because nobody else […] thought of owning them,” he gets first dibs. However, he can’t touch the stars, put them in a pocket, or give them to somebody else. Is it still true that he can really own them?
“Please—tame me!” he said.
“I want to very much,” the little prince replied. “But I have not much time. I have friends to discover, and a great many things to understand.”
“One only understands the things that one tames,” said the fox. “Men have no more time to understand anything. They buy things all ready made at the shops. But there is no shop anywhere where one can buy friendship, and so men have no friends any more. If you want a friend, tame me…” (21.33-5)
The prince is in such a hurry to find “friends to discover” and “things to understand” that he almost misses making friends with someone right under his nose. Whoops. The fox encourages the prince to realize that you can’t just order a friend and have one appear. Friendship is something that has to be worked at.
“It has done me good,” said the fox, “Because of the colour of the wheat fields.” And then he added:
“Go and look again at the roses. You will understand now that yours is unique in all the world. Then come back to say goodbye to me, and I will make you a present of a secret.” (21.49-50)
At this point in the story, the fox knows truths that the prince hasn’t realized yet. The fox is on a higher level of understanding. But the fox is a sharer, and he wants the prince to know what he knows. So, he gives the prince instructions. Basically, the prince should reexamine what he’s seen, based on what he now knows. Then he, like the fox, will have a better understanding of what really matters.