Chapters 18-20 Summary
The prince leaves the snake behind and crosses the desert alone. Along the way he finds a little flower with three petals. She is clearly an unimportant and ignorant flower, but she does not know it. He greets her politely, and she greets him back. He asks where all the people are, and she says that very few people, only about six or seven, exist in all the world. She saw them years ago, but she does not know where to find them. They have no roots, so the wind blows them around. This, she says, makes their lives difficult. The little prince says good-bye and moves on.
The prince comes to a mountain. It amazes him because it is so much taller than the little volcanoes on his planet. He climbs it, thinking he will see the whole world and all its people from the top. Unfortunately, he sees nothing except more desert. He shouts “hello” into the distance. When he hears the same “hello” bounce back as an echo, he thinks he has finally found people. “Who are you?” he calls out, and all he hears back is “Who are you?... Who are you?” He explains that he is lonely, and the echo replies the same. The prince gets frustrated and stops shouting. He decides Earth is yet another strange planet, “all dry and sharp and hard.” Worst of all, its people lack imagination:
They repeat whatever you say to them. Where I live I had a flower. She always spoke first.
The little prince climbs back down the mountain and finds a road. He follows it, hoping it will lead him to people. Instead he finds a garden full of roses. There are thousands of them, and they all look like his special flower. But she said she was “the only one of her kind in the whole universe.” He thinks that she would hate to know the truth, that there are thousands and maybe millions like her. If she did know, she would pretend to get sick to hide her embarrassment. He would have to take very good care of her or she would die just to make him unhappy.
The prince thinks about his home and how rich he used to feel with his three knee-high volcanoes and his one common rose. Now he knows that the universe holds enormous mountains and multitudes of roses. “It doesn’t make me much of a prince,” he thinks. He lies down on the ground and cries.