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KEY LITERARY ELEMENTS
The book is not set in a particular period or in one specific place. In the first chapter the narrator writes about his childhood experiences with drawings and about his low opinion of adults. In the second chapter the narrator starts narrating a particular series of incidents. He writes of the time when his plane crashed in the desert of Sahara six years ago.
Most of the narrative after the second chapter is set in the desert. The other places that function as settings include the asteroid where the Little Prince has his home and the planets that the Little Prince visits, including asteroids 325, 326, 327, 328, 329, and 330. The last planet that he visits is the Earth, where he meets the narrator in the Sahara Desert.
The story is really about the narrator's friendship with the Little Prince and about the Prince's own quest, which takes him to seven planets apart from his own.
LIST OF CHARACTERS
The narrator is really the author, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. The reader hears his voice throughout the book as he relates the story of the Little Prince and of his own friendship with him. The narrator says plainly that he is a romantic who does not like adults, whom he finds too practical; instead, he prefers children, whom he finds natural and delightful. The narrator writes this story of his encounter with the Little Prince in order to deal with the sorrow of losing his precious friend.
The Little Prince
The novel is named after the Little Prince, who is a mystical and loveable person. He is the sole inhabitant of a small planet, which the narrator refers to as B-612. The Prince leaves his planet to visit other places and finally lands on Earth. In the Sahara Desert, he meets the narrator and befriends him. The narrator tells of his encounter with the Prince and also relates the adventures of the Prince on the other asteroids that the latter has visited.
The Little Prince meets the fox in the desert. The fox is a wise creature, which teaches the Prince about the essence of life. After they become friends, the fox asks the Little Prince to 'tame him, which is what the latter does.
The Turkish Astronomer
The narrator mentions the Turkish astronomer in the fourth chapter. The narrator believes that the planet from which the Little Prince has come is the asteroid known as B-612. A Turkish astronomer first sees this asteroid through the telescope in 1909.
The Little Prince's flower
On the Little Prince's planet, the flowers are usually very simple; but one day, from a seed blown from afar, a new flower comes up that is very beautiful, but also very vain. The Prince begins to doubt the flower's credibility and finally leaves his planet to escape the company of the flower.
The king is the sole inhabitant of asteroid 325, which the Little Prince visits after leaving his own planet. The king insists upon his authority being respected and does not tolerate disobedience; however, since he is a very good man, he makes his orders reasonable. Just before the Prince leaves the king's planet, the latter makes the former an ambassador.
The Conceited Man
He is the inhabitant of asteroid 326. Totally conceited, he insists that everyone else admire him. He does not listen to anything but praise and expects the Little Prince to praise and admire him.
The tippler lives on asteroid 327. When the Prince asks him what he is doing, the tippler replies that he is drinking to forget that he is ashamed of drinking.
The businessman sits and counts stars on asteroid 328. He thinks that he owns the stars, making him rich. The Little Prince explains to the businessman that he is of no use at all to the stars that he owns.
The lamplighter lives on asteroid 329 and does the job of lighting and then putting out the lamplight. The lamplighter thinks that his is a terrible profession, because once every minute he has to light the lamp, for his planet makes a complete turn every sixty seconds. The Prince feels that the lamplighter is the only one who could have been his friend.
The geographer lives on a planet that is ten times larger than the lamplighter's planet. He explains that he is a scholar who knows the location of all the seas, rivers, towns, mountains, and deserts. He is the one who advises the Prince to visit the planet Earth, as it has a good reputation.
The first living thing that the Prince encounters on the planet Earth is a snake. The snake tells him that it gets a little lonely among men. The Prince thinks that the snake is very weak, but the snake tells him that he can kill a person. The snake also says that he can solve all kinds of riddles.
The Desert Flower
The Prince meets a flower in the desert. It tells him that there are only six or seven men in existence and that one never knows where to find them. According to the flower, the wind blows the men away.
Garden of Roses
The Prince meets a garden of roses on the planet Earth. He is overcome with sadness on seeing them because there are five thousand of them in a single garden. His flower has told him that it was the only one of its kind in the universe. He cries when he realizes that his flower has lied to him.
The Prince meets the railway switchman on Earth. The switchman tells the Prince that he sorts out travelers and sends off the trains that carry them. The switchman also says that no one is ever satisfied with his position. During his conversation with the switchman, the Prince tells him that only the children know what they are looking for.
The Prince asks the merchant why he sells pills that quench thirst. The merchant answers that he sells them because they save a lot of time. The Prince feels that he would rather use that time to walk at leisure toward a spring of fresh water.