What does the Little Prince symbolize for the pilot?

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The Little Prince represents the positive elements of childlike thinking and feeling that the pilot, in his adulthood, has lost due to social pressure and cynicism. Unlike adults, the Little Prince takes joy in the simple things (like his flower and the beauty of nature), has an open mind, and indulges his imagination even if it does not get him money, fame, or an ego boost.

The pilot is changed by his encounter with the Little Prince. By interacting with him, the pilot becomes more childlike himself and is able to regain his former imaginative, open-hearted qualities lost to time and experience. This does not mean he becomes childish, but that he integrates the best parts of the childlike perspective into his life.

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To the pilot, the Little Prince symbolizes a childlike innocence that has been untainted by adult ennui and sophistication. To the pilot, the Little Prince also represents sacrificial love and devotion.

The prince proves early on that he can perceive what is going on beneath the surface of things with childlike clarity. He does so by properly identifying the pilot's drawing of the boa constrictor that swallowed the elephant. The prince continues to show his innocence as he describes for the pilot his simple life on his tiny asteroid and his devotion to his demanding rose.

The prince represents Christ-like love to the pilot when he allows himself to be bitten by the poisonous snake and die because he believes it means he will be able to return to his beloved rose.

The pilot has a very Romantic view of the world, valuing the child as, to quote Wordsworth, "the father of the man." Innocence, purity, and love set the Little Prince apart. The pilot learns wisdom from the simplicity and devotion of his unearthly companion.

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In order to fully understand what the Little Prince symbolizes for the pilot, it's important to first understand the pilot, including his desires and needs as a character.

At the beginning of the story, before he meets the Little Prince, the pilot describes his own childhood. The pilot is an imaginative child who loves drawing. He draws a creative picture of a boa constrictor swallowing an elephant. However, the adults in the pilot's life fail to understand the drawing. The pilot tells us, "The grown-ups' response, this time, was to advise me to lay aside my drawings of boa constrictors, whether from the inside or the outside, and devote myself instead to geography, history, arithmetic, and grammar. That is why, at the age of six, I gave up what might have been a magnificent career as a painter." This event represents the beginning of the death of the pilot's childhood imagination. The pilot's imagination is slowly crushed and extinguished by adults who think of success in terms of money, ambition, and intellect rather than creativity, freedom, and love. 

So, later on when the pilot meets the Little Prince, the Little Prince's natural curiosity and freedom fascinate the pilot. The Prince asks the pilot to draw him a sheep, which causes the pilot to remember his early love for drawing that he has since abandoned. Through stories of his travels and his great love for a rose, the Prince's open mind and sensitivity contrast sharply with the adult characters' hardened, narrow minds. The Prince helps the pilot regain his own childhood curiosity, wonder, and love for the world. 

Thus, for the pilot, the Little Prince symbolizes the purity and open-mindedness of childhood: the ways in which children who are still unaffected by adults and adult ideas of success are capable of loving the world with unparalleled freedom.

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