Perhaps it’s time I took a break from being a grown-up and talked about The Little Prince. Much in the case with the Lord of the Rings books, I didn’t know about this classic story until its movie adaptation happened upon the world. So many YouTube reviewers were falling in love with it, so I gave it a watch too. Besides the movie, I also saw a play version last April at my grad school’s studio theater. Now that I’ve read the book that inspired such delightful adaptations, I can attest to the gentle wonder of this sweet and simple book.
The Little Prince is about an unnamed pilot who finds an unlikely companion in a little prince, whom he finds in the Sahara Desert. The pilot is stranded with his busted airplane, so the little prince tells him about his travels across the universe looking for a friend. Each planet has a single unique character that the prince attempts to befriend, but each time, he leaves, feeling more and more confused, as well as frustrated, at the nature of “grown-ups.” I get the feeling that, much like Roald Dahl, Antoine de Saint-Exupery had high disdain for most uncreative people. There is a heavy emphasis of not being serious and seeing the world with your heart, among other sentimentalities. Not that those sentiments are unwelcome. Actually, I considered this book a nice balm for what I’m going through now.
You see, I’ve recently begun my first post grad-school job, and, for now, it requires me to travel two hours from home, spend three nights a week by myself in a hotel, and what time I would normally spend writing or reading is lost. And because I’m by myself, or running to and fro at work, I feel like I’m losing precious time to gather my thoughts and do what I love best. I feel like I’m being pulled into the intense hour-by-hour schedule employed by many grown-ups, and, while I understand it’s important to work, it’s also important to realize what beauty there is right before us. I don’t want to be like the harried and cross businessman the little prince meets, who has no time for strolls or being anything but serious, but that’s the very reason I picked up this book.
The word to describe this book is gentle. The story’s pervading image is the little prince sitting on his home planet, either beside his lovely rose or his tamed fox, watching the sunset. The story offers you its hand and invites you to sit a while, and just talk about the little things as well as the big. Or you can sit quietly and just watch the universe go on, in all its beauty. The little prince is also such a delightful character, with his childlike logic and honesty.
Most of all, the book emphasizes that it’s everyone’s duty to love. Although there are millions of roses in the universe, the little prince loved the one on his planet. There are thousands of foxes around, but the little prince tamed one. The most famous line from the book—that the most important things are not seen with the eyes, but felt with the heart—speaks directly to that lesson. There’s a powerful image close to the end, after the little prince has told his tale, of the pilot carrying the exhausted prince in his arms and that sentiment hits him square in the gut.
It’s not unusual for me to feel a story reaching out and figuratively telling me everything’s okay, and this one probably will for a few more re-readings. I might just look up to the sky, as the little prince instructs the pilot, and listen to his laughter as he travels back to his rose in the stars.