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What social concerns are exposed in Saint-Exupery's The Little Prince?

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nhikkie18 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 21, 2008 at 7:20 PM via web

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What social concerns are exposed in Saint-Exupery's The Little Prince?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 27, 2012 at 2:23 AM (Answer #1)

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Many social issues are revealed in the parabolic stories within The little Prince. Since we are limited to space due to formatting, below are listed a couple of social issues.

One social issue is judging by appearances, particularly judging prejudicially. We especially see prejudice portrayed with respect to the discovery of the little prince's asteroid. The narrator explains that a Turkish astronomer discovered asteroid B-612 in 1909, but when he presented the discovery to the International Astronomical Congress, he was not taken seriously because he dressed in "Turkish costume" (Ch. 4). In 1920 the same Turkish astronomer presented the discovery again, however, this time dressed in western clothing due to a Turkish dictator's ordinance, and his report was finally taken seriously and accepted. Since the same Turkish explorer was either rejected or accepted based on appearance, we can easily see how this little parable exposes the social issue of prejudice.

The social issue of materialistic western society is a dominant theme throughout the book. The issue is especially revealed in the parable concerning the businessman. The businessman is so obsessed with what he considers to be his own material wealth that he considers socializing with fellow humanity and even exercising to be "balderdash" (Ch. 13). Interestingly, the thing he is counting as his material wealth is the stars, which no one can really own; however, his logic is that since no one has ever thought of owning them before, then they are his, as we see in his lines:

When you find a diamond that belongs to nobody, it is yours. When you discover an island that belongs to nobody, it is yours ... So with me: I own the stars, because nobody else before me ever thought of owning them. (Ch. 13)

Since the businessman is obsessed with material objects, even material objects he can't literally possess, we see that the parable exposes the social issue of materialism.

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