What is the author's message in Flight to Arras by Antoine de Saint-Exupery?

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Noelle Thompson | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

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Flight to Arras is a French memoir written by Antoine de Saint-Exupery in 1942. He was a pilot in the French Air Force and involved in the 1940 Battle of France, in which he flew a reconnaissance plane. The books information is a compilation of flights during this battle, which took place over the time period of several months.  Quite honestly, our eNotes team has the perfect statement about the author's message here:

[Antoine de Saint-Exupery wrote Flight to Arras] as evidence that not all Frenchmen had succumbed to complacency and indifference in the face of the Nazi invasion and Vichy collaboration.

Absolutely everything in the book attests to this fact.  In the first few days of the Battle between the French and German Forces, 17 of the 23 reconnaissance crews which were in Saint-Exupery's reconnaissance crews were shot down. There were only a total of 50 reconnaissance crews, which means almost half were lost in the first few days of the German invasion.

Life always bursts the boundaries of formulas. Defeat may prove to have been the only path to resurrection, despite its ugliness. I take it for granted that to create a tree I condemn a seed to rot. If the first act of resistance comes too late it is doomed to defeat. But it is, nevertheless, the awakening of resistance. Life may grow from it as from a seed.

As indicated in the quotation above, Antoine de Saint-Exupery obviously had political ideological differences with de Gaulle and refused to join the Royal Air Force. He left for North America and received the National Book Award. However he did rejoin his reconnaissance crew in 1943, when they were in Africa.

In conclusion, Antoine de Saint-Exupery wrote Flight to Arras, which was avidly read in the US, as proof that he, specifically as a French citizen, was not complacent in the wake of Nazi invasions. Antoine de Saint-Exupery would further remain in the United States, writing, voicing his convictions about his responsibilities to his fellow human beings and his feelings of unity with his flight crew, his country, and all people, until he was able to rejoin the French forces.

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