Describe the friendship between the prince and the swallow.  

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Both the swallow and the Happy Prince, who is now a statue, share compassion for the poor, and this becomes the basis of their friendship.

The swallow plans to spend one night sleeping on the Happy Prince statue before heading off to Egypt to meet his fellow swallows. However, when the Happy Prince's tears fall on him, the swallow gets into a conversation with him. He learns the prince is unhappy because of the suffering and poverty that he witnesses in the city--when alive, he had been sheltered from knowledge of this pain. He asks the swallow to help him tend to the poor.

The swallow keeps meaning to leave the city, but the needs of the poor don't go away. Therefore, he and the statue form a partnership. The swallow, at the statue's request, strips away the statue's jewels and gold and delivers them in bits to the poor as the statue directs. This way, the two of them alleviate much suffering in the city.

Both have generous hearts and put others' needs ahead of their own. Both earn a place in heaven.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The friendship between the Happy Prince and the swallow is one that's based on love and mutual respect. Although the swallow needs to migrate to Egypt for the winter, he's so drawn to the kindness of the prince, the goodness of his heart, that he agrees to stay behind and help him dispense gifts to the poor and needy. The prince, for his part, comes to develop a profound emotional attachment to the little swallow. When the swallow sadly passes away due to the cold, the prince's leaden heart breaks in two. That's how much the little bird means to him.

Yet this is not the end of their friendship. For an angel descends from heaven to retrieve the dead bird and the prince's broken heart. He takes them back up to heaven, where they will live happily together for all eternity. Their friendship on this earth may have been brief, and it may have ended in tragedy, but their friendship in paradise will live on forever.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial