For I do not want any one to read my book carelessly. I have suffered too much grief in setting down these memories. Six years have already passed since my friend went away from me, with his sheep. If I try to describe him here, it is to make sure that I shall not forget him. To forget a friend is sad. Not every one has had a friend. And if I forget him, I may become like the grown-ups who are no longer interested in anything but figures… (4.13)
In this paragraph, the narrator’s sadness and ideas about friendship collide. He can’t think about his friendship with the prince without being sad that the prince has left. The idea that he might “forget a friend is sad.” Do you agree? Why or why not?
I had let my tools drop from my hands. Of what moment now was my hammer, my bolt, or thirst, or death? On one star, one planet, my planet, the Earth, there was a little prince to be comforted. I took him in my arms, and rocked him. (7.32)
This friendship with the prince inspires the narrator to be less selfish. When the narrator sees his friend is unhappy, he drops everything to comfort him. The narrator says that his hammer and bolt aren’t important compared to the prince’s grief, which is understandable—but he also says “thirst” and “death” aren’t as important either. He must really care about the prince!
I did not know what to say to him. I felt awkward and blundering. I did not know how I could reach him, where I could overtake him and go on hand in hand with him once more.
It is such a secret place, the land of tears. (7.34-5)
Even when you have a great friend, that friendship doesn’t mean you can do everything together. As much as the narrator cares for and sympathizes with the prince, the narrator can’t follow him “hand in hand” into the “land of tears” – in other words, it is impossible to really, truly understand someone else’s sorrow. Do you agree?
As the little prince watched him, he felt that he loved this lamplighter who was so faithful to his orders. He remembered the sunsets which he himself had gone to seek, in other days, merely by pulling up his chair; and he wanted to help his friend. (14.24)
The prince has barely known the lamplighter for any time at all, but he already knows that he wants to be friends with him. In fact, he’s already decided that they’re friends and is now thinking about how he can help the lamplighter out. Although it’s only been part of a short chapter, the prince “fe[els] that he love[s] this lamplighter.” Why do you think this is so?
The Little Prince
“That man is the only one of them all whom I could have made my friend. But his planet is indeed too small. There is no room on it for two people…”
What the little prince did not dare confess was that he was sorry most of all to leave this planet, because it was blest every day with 1440 sunsets! (14.36-7)
Do you think the prince likes sunsets even more than he likes friends? Why or why not?
“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)
Friendship is hard work! It takes time and effort to build trust and to really get to know someone. Do you agree with the fox that most adults have no time for friendship?
The Little Prince
“You are not at all like my rose,” he said. “As yet you are nothing. No one has tamed you, and you have tamed no one. You are like my fox when I first knew him. He was only a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But I have made him my friend, and now he is unique in all the world.” (21.52)
This moment is both sad and glorious. It’s sad because the prince is telling the flowers that they “are nothing.” They don’t know what taming is and haven’t experienced it. Without that knowledge or experience, they aren’t anything; they don’t stand out from the crowd. However, it’s also a glorious moment, because in it the prince is finally realizing how special his fox and his flower are because they are his friends.
“No,” said the little prince. “I am looking for friends. What does that mean—‘tame’?”
“It is an act too often neglected,” said the fox. “It means to establish ties.” (21.15-16)
In a way, by meeting each other the prince and the fox both get what they want. The prince wants friends and the fox wants to be tamed. The two see friendship and taming as different things, but are they really the same thing?
The Little Prince
“It is a good thing to have a friend, even if one is about to die. I, for instance, am very glad to have a fox as a friend…” (24.8)
The Little Prince just keeps on bringing the sad, doesn’t it? Here, the prince is facing the possibility of his own death. What makes that death even more piteous is that the prince is so “glad to have a fox as a friend.” He is less focused on the sadness of dying and more focused on the gladness of having a friend. But all of this just makes the sadness even sadder, doesn’t it?
Once again I felt myself frozen by the sense of something irreparable. And I knew that I could not bear the thought of never hearing that laughter any more. For me, it was like a spring of fresh water in the desert. (26.31)
“Fresh water in the desert” is something you can’t do without—something you need to survive; it’s what you dream about in its absence. And all of that value and need sums up what the prince means to the narrator.