What is Antoine de Saint-Exupery's purpose in using the first-person point of view to narrate The Little Prince?  

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Antoine de Saint-Exupery's The Little Prince contains two central themes: the importance of finding one's child self and the importance of love. Furthermore, Saint-Exupery shows that real love can only be experienced when one is in tune with one's child self. While the title character grows to understand what love really is and its importance, it's really the narrator, the main protagonist, who comes to reconnect with his child self, and it is the prince who helps him find this reconnection, making the narrator's reconnection with his child self the central story. The reconnection with one's child self is really a personal story. An outsider would not be able to fully understand the story without an internal look at the protagonist's thoughts and feelings. Therefore, since the central story is about the narrator reconnecting with his child self, a story that cannot be seen without a look inside the narrator's heart and mind, it is necessary for the story to be written in first person.

Saint-Exupery begins to develop the central theme of the importance of connecting with one's child self in the opening chapter. Children have strong imaginations that allow them to see with their hearts the things that can't be seen with the eyes; it is the fox who teaches the prince the importance of seeing with the heart later in Chapter 21. In the opening chapter, we see that, when the narrator was a child, he had the ability to see with his imagination, as evidenced by his drawing of a "boa constrictor digesting an elephant ... from the outside." Yet, his imagination and, therefore, child self was crushed by grownups who told him to "lay aside [his] drawings of boa constrictors, whether from the inside or the outside, and devote [himself] instead to geography, history, arithmetic and grammar" (Ch. 1). Yet, he refused to completely let go of his child self and, even as an adult, occasionally showed his "Drawing Number One" to other adults he met to test their sensibilities. It was not until he met the little prince that he met someone as heartfelt and imaginative, as in tune with the child self, as he was. Through developing his friendship with the little prince, the narrator is able to reconnect with his child self. The narrator displays his reconnection with his child self through the drawing of the sheep in the box he makes for the prince upon request, through the pictures he draws of the prince and of the prince's story, and through his love for the prince.

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The Little Prince

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