Characters

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 321

Since the work is a series of reflections and various incidents in his flying career, Saint-Exupery does not introduce characters as one would expect them in an ordinary novel. His portraits however emerge with accuracy and realism. The narrator himself becomes the principal character, a devoted pilot, who sees his...

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Since the work is a series of reflections and various incidents in his flying career, Saint-Exupery does not introduce characters as one would expect them in an ordinary novel. His portraits however emerge with accuracy and realism. The narrator himself becomes the principal character, a devoted pilot, who sees his responsibility as a mail carrier as his most important duty. He is a person who knows and loves people, especially the simple, such as the slaves in Juby, or the humble peasant family in Argentina. He is a person who loves his friends, and suffers when Guillaumet is lost in the Andes. He manifests courage after his plane wreck in the desert, and shows an insurmountable desire to live. At the same time, he shows tenderness in his dealings with others.

Guillaumet, lost in the Andes, shows courage, but more than this, manifests his grandeur in his sense of responsibility, to himself, to the mail he is to deliver, and to his wife. Prevot, Saint- Exupery's mechanic who with him experiences the crash in the Sahara, is the faithful companion. He too shows courage, yet does not have the same physical and emotional strength as Saint-Exupery.

Besides his companions in the air, Saint-Exupery portrays simple people in brilliant little portraits. One meets Bark, the name of all black slaves, losing his name and identity. Bark finally, like all slaves, would be sent away to die when he no longer earned his food and lodging, had he not been bought and freed before his time. There are simple descriptions, such as the Bedouin who rescues Saint-Exupery and Prevot in the desert, and without words gives them water. On the whole, these are convincing and delicate portraits. They are combined with a gentle sense of humor, and a dramatic use of dialogue. Saint-Exupery's theory of humanism and human dignity evokes respect for every character, from the lowliest slave to the most accomplished pilot.

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