The Plot (Magill's Guide to Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature)
The Little Prince begins with the famous pair of drawings with which the narrator, Saint-Exupéry himself, tests the understanding of adults. The first is of a boa constrictor that has swallowed an elephant. Most adults see only a hat shape; they cannot see beyond the exterior. For them, he draws another boa constrictor, this time in cross-section, so they can see the elephant inside.
After years of loneliness in the world of grown-ups, Saint-Exupéry crashes his plane in the desert. While he is trying to repair his plane, the Little Prince appears and asks Saint-Exupéry to draw a sheep for him. Saint-Exupéry first presents him with the drawing that opens the story, and the Little Prince protests that he does not want an elephant in a boa constrictor. The Little Prince rejects several of Saint-Exupéry’s attempts to draw a sheep before accepting a drawing of a box inside which he can imagine a sheep. This event marks the beginning of the friendship between the Little Prince and Saint-Exupéry.
Saint-Exupéry learns that his visitor comes from a tiny asteroid and that he is sad. The cause of the Little Prince’s melancholy turns out to be the beautiful Rose, who so tormented him with her moods that he left his planet.
The Little Prince tells the story of how he escaped from his planet with the help of a flock of migratory birds. He visited a number of planets, each inhabited by a solitary figure who represented some...
(The entire section is 508 words.)
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Bibliography (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Breaux, Adéle. Saint-Exupéry in America, 1942-1943: A Memoir. Rutherford, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1971. Covers the events of the time Saint-Exupéry spent in the United States during World War II. Includes discussion of his work on The Little Prince.
Capestany, Edward J. The Dialectic of “The Little Prince.” Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 1982. Searching study presents a chapter-by-chapter analysis of the book, focusing on Saint-Exupéry’s use of myth.
Cate, Curtis. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: His Life and Times. New York: Putnam, 1970. Comprehensive biography describes the author as a passionate pilot, inventor, mathematician, and diplomat. Provides a complete panorama of the times in which he lived and discusses the famous people he knew.
Harris, John R. L. Chaos, Cosmos, and Saint-Exupéry’s Pilot Hero: A Study in Mythopoeia. Scranton, Pa.: University of Scranton Press, 1999. Discusses the unique qualities of Saint-Exupéry’s writing and argues that scholars may overestimate the complexity of The Little Prince.
Higgins, James E.“The Little Prince”: A Reverie of Substance. New York: Twayne, 1996. Provides information on the book’s literary and historical contexts, including its critical reception. Offers an interpretation that emphasizes the “eye of...
(The entire section is 423 words.)