The author wrote the Little Prince in 1942 in New York. What might the baobabs represent in real life?

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jseligmann eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is from chapter 5 of The Little Prince:

"It is a question of discipline," the little prince said to me later on. "When you've finished your own toilet in the morning, then it is time to attend to the toilet of your planet, just so, with the greatest care. You must see to it that you pull up regularly all the baobabs, at the very first moment when they can be distinguished from the rosebushes which they resemble so closely in their earliest youth. It is very tedious work," the little prince added, "but very easy."

..."Sometimes," he added, "there is no harm in putting off a piece of work until another day. But when it is a matter of baobabs, that always means a catastrophe. I knew a planet that was inhabited by a lazy man. He neglected three little bushes . . ."

Certainly, if we consider when this wonderful tale was written and the context and the warning, the Little Prince is talking about the importance of ridding the world of evil as quickly as possible. By 1942, things had already gotten out of hand on this much bigger planet of Earth. A World War was again raging for we had not attended to the seeds of evil until it was almost to late. The seeds of fascism, the seeds of Nazism... the seeds of tyranny and the seeds of hatred.

There is a quote, attributed to the British statesman and philosopher Edmund Burke, that sums up the ideas so eloquently expressed in this little chapter about the boababs:

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

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