What is the main theme of the Little Prince?

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lizedwards eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As in many works of literature, there is more than one main theme in Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's novella The Little Prince. The themes of this book all relate to the nature of being human. These themes are presented through the interactions of the aviator, the Little Prince, and other characters, who all present different perspectives on each of the various themes. Since several themes have already been mentioned within this topic, I'll add two more main themes here: growing up and adventure vs. familiarity.

Growing Up
One of The Little Prince's central themes examines the change from child to adult and the transformation that takes place between those two life phases. By the end of the novella, each of the characters, and especially the Little Prince, has changed in some way. While this change is a natural and expected transition, there is a sadness that accompanies the change. The Little Prince, for example, knows he cannot remain the same but with his growth gains knowledge that makes him sad yet wiser.  Though the Little Prince at the end of the story has a greater understanding of the world, he also carries more sorrow.
Adventure vs. Familiarity
The Little Prince is written with a whimsical tone, and this tone is a reflection of a recurring theme throughout the work. The characters learn the value of keeping wonder and curiosity as they explore. This theme extends beyond simply decrying the dangers of narrow-mindedness. Rather, the theme suggests that it is valuable to actively explore and be curious instead of letting expectations and preconceived understanding dictate our actions.
brendawm eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The main themes of The Little Prince, beyond the dangers of narrow-mindedness  are:

  • Enlightenment through Exploration—each main character desires both adventure (exploration of the outside world) and for introspection (exploration within himself). It is through his encounter with the lost prince in the lonely, isolated desert that the friendless narrator achieves a newfound understanding of the world.
  • Relationships Teach Responsibility—The story teaches that the responsibility demanded by relationships with others leads to a greater understanding and appreciation of one’s responsibilities to the world in general. The story of the prince and his rose is a parable about the nature of real love. The prince’s love for his rose is the driving force behind the novel. The prince leaves his planet because of the rose; the rose pervades the prince’s discussions with the narrator; and eventually, the rose becomes the reason the prince wants to return to his planet.
renelane eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are several. The theme of narrow-mindedness is one. Throughout the novel, many are guilty of being short-sighted. The narrator complains of the grown-ups not being able to interpret his painting.  The adults are often incapable of accepting anything other than what can be immediately seen.The little prince is the symbol of open-mindedness.

jarod-wong eNotes educator| Certified Educator
  • Children and adults have different perspectives on the world.
  • Looking at items from a different perspective can often bring pleasing results.
Read the study guide:
The Little Prince

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