Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

*Buenos Aires

*Buenos Aires. Capital city of Argentina, whose offices of the airmail service are the nerve center of air operations and of the central drama of the narrative. These offices are the command post from which Rivière, the operations chief, wages a war against the darkness of night, severe weather, and other hazards to aviation. In this heroic struggle, Rivière stations himself in Buenos Aires, the nerve center of an epic struggle. He feels that he must do away with the mystery, symbolized by such natural elements as the night, the ocean, the vast forces that constantly threaten to overwhelm and defeat humans. This mission is a moral one that challenges him to command events rather than be commanded by them. To do so is to become a creator of humanity’s future. This struggle imbues this outpost of humanity’s progress with universal significance, and Argentina symbolizes one of the last frontiers of human endeavor.

Night sky

Night sky. Saint-Exupéry’s metaphors repeatedly depict the night sky as an ocean traversed by the pilots in their airplanes, ships heading to port and weathering the storms. The airmail pilots are depicted as sea divers who descend to the sea floor in search of the sea’s mysteries, then make their way back to the surface, but the principal arena of their battle is the night sky above South America, symbol of humanity’s reach into the unknown.

In the sea of...

(The entire section is 596 words.)