What open-ended reader response questions can be asked about chapters 13 and 14 of Saint-Exupery's The Little Prince?
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When thinking about open-ended reader response questions, it's important to ask yourself certain questions about the text. Some important questions are, what themes are being presented in these chapters; how do these chapters relate to the book as a whole; what is the author saying in these chapters as a whole? Being able to answer these questions on your own will enable you to compose open-ended reader response questions for others to answer that will open their eyes up to messages behind the reading as well.
If we remember that one of the central themes in the book is the importance of the non-corporeal world, we can ask ourselves how the businessman embodies this theme. What does the businessman symbolize? We know that he represents the adult world and that the businessman is only "concerned with matters of consequence" and that he does not "amuse [himself] with balderdash" (Ch. 13). If we look closer, we see that what he considers to be "balderdash" is interacting with nature, such as the "giddy goose"; interacting with his fellow man, like the prince; and even taking care himself through exercise. Therefore, we see that the businessman is only concerned with counting what he sees as his own material possessions rather than doing anything spiritual, such as caring for anything around him. Hence we see that the businessman symbolizes materialism and embodies the theme of the importance of the non-corporeal world by caring only for the corporeal world rather than anything that is truly important, such as health and friendship.
We can ask similar questions of Chapter 14: What does the lamplighter symbolize? How does he embody the central theme? Most importantly, we can ask ourselves why it is that the prince feels so much respect and admiration for the lamplighter. Then, we can ask ourselves whether or not we agree with the little prince. The prince states that out of all the people he had met, the lamplighter is the only person he did not think absurd and further says, "Perhaps that is because he is thinking of something else besides himself" (Ch. 14). If the lamplighter explains that he is going about his activities because he is fulfilling "orders," then we must also ask, if the lamplighter is the only one on the planet, from whom or what is he getting his "orders"? The answer is from someone or something beyond the corporeal. The lamplighter is lighting and putting out his lamp because he feels a higher calling to do so, in essence, a spiritual calling. He is, therefore, dedicated to his spiritual calling even though he finds it exhausting. Therefore, we can see that the lamplighter symbolizes the spiritual realm and embodies the theme by representing devotion to something beyond the corporeal. While we may not agree that the lamplighter is performing a necessary task, since we know that the prince is on his own spiritual quest, we can agree that the lamplighter is the closest the prince has met to one who understands the importance of things beyond the corporeal.
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