Chapter 7 Summary
One day, with his voice full of concern, the little prince asks if sheep eat flowers. The pilot says they do. The prince asks if sheep eat thorny flowers, and the pilot says they eat those too. This bothers the little prince, who demands to know why flowers have thorns.
This is the pilot’s fifth day in the Sahara. He only has a few days’ water left and his engine is not fixed. He is working on it every day, but he does not know if he can fix it before his water runs out. He is worried, and his temper is short. As he struggles to unscrew a bolt that will not come off, he says that the flowers just have thorns because they want to be mean. This horrifies the little prince, who shouts:
I don’t believe you. Flowers are weak. They’re naïve....They believe their thorns make them frightening.
The pilot only half listens to this, focusing instead on the problem with his bolt. The little prince begins another question but the pilot shouts at him that he is “busy here with something serious!”
The little prince accuses the pilot of being “like the grown-ups,” laboring over an ugly problem and ignoring everything that really matters. According to the little prince, the pilot is just like a man he once met on a faraway planet. This man constantly refused to look at the stars and flowers. Instead he sat at a desk, writing numbers and muttering about being “a serious man.” He was, according to the little prince, nothing but a “mushroom!”
The little prince insists that thorny flowers and hungry sheep are a serious matter. After all, flowers have been making thorns practically forever, and for just as long, sheep have been eating the flowers anyway. He asks how this could not be serious and insists that it is more serious than useless numbers and broken engines—if not, then why would the sheep and the flowers go on doing what they do?
As it happens, the little prince loves a particular flower, a flower that is completely unique. There is only one such flower in the whole universe, and it lives on the little prince’s planet. Looking up at the sky makes the little prince happy because he knows that his flower is up there. But now he has a sheep, and that sheep could easily kill the flower in a single gulp. That, to him, is as important as it gets.
When he finishes this outburst, the little prince bursts into tears. The pilot drops his tools and comforts the boy. He promises to draw a muzzle for the sheep or a fence for the flower to make it all okay. The little prince is not consoled, so for the pilot, the matter of the sheep and the flower begin to seem like the most important problem in the world.