Chapter 15 Summary
The next planet, the sixth, is much larger. It is home to an old man who writes in books. He introduces himself as a geographer and explains that it is his job to know the locations of mountains and cities and oceans. This excites the little prince, who thinks he has finally found someone whose occupation is really wonderful. The prince looks around and sees that the geographer’s planet is far more beautiful than any he has ever seen. He asks about its mountains and oceans, but the geographer has no idea if there are any.
The geographer explains that he is “far too important to go wandering about.” To get information about geography, he needs the help of explorers. He sits in his study and waits for explorers, who come to him and tell him about what they have seen. He must examine each explorer’s “moral character” to make sure he is a fit person to discover geographical objects. Not everyone can do this job. A drunk, for instance, cannot be trusted because he may see double, which means he may see two mountains where there is only one. The little prince comments that he has met at least one person who would make a terrible explorer. The geographer goes on to say that, if an explorer has a good moral character, then the geographer can investigate his discoveries. Naturally, the geographer does not go to see the actual discoveries, but the explorer brings evidence—such as large rocks from a mountain—and the explorer examines them to make sure they are real.
At the geographer’s urging, the little prince describes his planet; he mentions the three volcanoes and the flower. The geographer says he does not write anything about flowers because they are “ephemeral.” When the little prince asks what this means, the geographer gives him a definition: “threatened by imminent disappearance.” This surprises the little prince, who wonders for the first time if his flower might disappear someday. He feels guilty for leaving her behind, now that he knows this danger exists for her. He remembers that she only has four small thorns as defense against anything that might harm her.
In spite of his fears, the little prince does not yet consider returning home. Instead, he asks the geographer where he should go next. The geographer suggests Earth. “It has a good reputation,” he says. This is how the little prince decides to make the final visit of his long journey.