Why is The Little Prince so important to Saint-Exupery?
Antoine de Saint-Exupery wrote this story in reference to a time when he crashed in the Sahara Desert. He and his navigator wandered for over two days, becoming dehydrated and having hallucinations. Saint-Exupery’s favorite author growing up was Hans Christian Anderson, so inspiration for The Little Prince was based on his love for fables and the actual experience of crashing and nearly dying in the desert, noting the common thread of illusion between fables and hallucinating.
From the fable or allegorical perspective, The Little Prince is important, and was important to the author, because one of the main themes is the decreasing role of imagination (linked with childhood) in a world where knowledge is increasingly compartmentalized, and the world is governed by statistics, business and political ideologies. This novella was first published in 1943 – during the middle of World War II, where the so-called enlightened powers of the world were committing atrocities and killing each other. These actions would be illogical to someone like the little prince. The ending is vague. We don’t know if the prince has somehow been returned to his planet, if he is lost or dead. This leaves the allegorical ambiguity that the spirit of imagination, innocence and love may not be dead in the world (1943); we just might have to look for it.
Within the context of the story, if we consider Saint-Exupery to be the narrator, then the little prince is a source that gave him reasons to live.
The Little Prince is a very important character because its role in the story increases throughout the narrative, and makes it a character of much greater depth and significance than one first imagines.
As the little prince leaves his planet and visits others, he finds people whose qualities represent the common flaws of many adults. The analytical process by which the Little Prince comes to understand these flaws makes the reader appreciate more the innocence of the little prince and realize the vast difference between the mind of a child and that of an adult.
Saint Exupery wanted to bring out the beauty of innocence and contrast it to the onset of maturity, showing how sometimes one would prefer to remain thinking like a child in order to allow our imagination to operate without restraints, and our capacity for love to maintain its natural course of action.
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