The Little Prince Book Summary - The Little Prince Book explained in key points
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The Little Prince summary

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

A Tale About the Human Condition and the Search for Happiness

4.9 (94 ratings)
19 mins
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    The Little Prince
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    The prince’s home, and the things we don’t understand

    Our story begins with the unnamed narrator as a child, drawing – or rather trying to draw – a simple picture of a boa constrictor that has eaten an elephant. To his dismay, the grown-ups are unable to understand what he drew, mistaking it for a hat.

    Fast-forward to many years in the future. After crashing his plane in the desert, the narrator meets a small, curious boy – the titular little prince – who asks for a drawing of a sheep. Unlike the grown-ups of the narrator’s past, the prince recognizes his ambiguous drawing straight away. Then, he asks if the sheep would eat bushes or a rose.

    You see, the prince comes from a small asteroid – barely bigger than a house – on which he spends his days pulling up the sprouting baobab trees that threaten to overrun his planet. He would very much like the sheep to eat these weeds.

    But the prince also owns a rose, who he loves dearly and would not like to come to any harm. Despite this love, he feels tormented by her vanity – she’s constantly demanding his attention, complaining of dangers, and speaking in contradictions that confuse and frustrate the prince. As he tells the narrator on Earth, “I was too young to know how to love her.”

    That’s why he decided to leave. First, he cleaned out the three tiny volcanoes that also occupy his planet. Then he uprooted the last of the baobab plants. As he watered his precious flower one final time, she asked for his forgiveness, explaining that both of them had been foolish. She requested that he remove her protective glass, saying, “I must endure the presence of two or three caterpillars if I wish to become acquainted with the butterflies.”

    The prince left her proudly hiding her tears, and began the adventure that eventually led him to Earth.


    Right away, we’re introduced to a theme that’s prevalent throughout the book: you often need to look under the surface to see the true meanings of things – and grown-ups are notoriously bad at this. This is shown by the adults who fail to realize there’s an elephant inside the narrator's picture of a boa constrictor.

    Contrast this with the little prince’s immediate childlike acceptance and understanding of the drawing of the sheep, and you’ll see the different perspectives of adults and children. Something is lost along the way as we grow older.

    As the prince continues telling the story of his home planet, we’re introduced to some more themes and symbols of the book. The baobab trees that require constant maintenance, lest they overrun the planet? These symbolize the bad habits or negative thoughts that will hurt us if we leave them unattended. It’s no stretch to see them as representing the destructive roots of Nazism that were overrunning Saint-Exupéry’s home country and the rest of Europe at the time of writing.

    Which brings us to the rose – which, as usual, symbolizes love. This particular rose and the prince’s undying love for her were likely inspired by Saint-Exupéry’s wife, Consuelo. At this stage in the prince’s life, he doesn’t understand the rose. He’s frustrated by her contradictions and pushed away by her vanity. 

    But as the rose wisely points out, you have to endure the caterpillars to enjoy the butterflies. In other words, you need to accept the unpleasant things in a relationship or situation if you want to get to the really good part.

    The prince isn’t ready for this. As he reflects to the narrator, he was too young to love the rose, which is why he left. He still had some growing up to do, and some lessons to learn. Keep this in mind as we go back in time and follow the prince on his journey to Earth.

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    What is The Little Prince about?

    The Little Prince (1943) is the classic allegorical tale about a stranded pilot’s extraordinary encounter with a wise and curious little boy from another planet. As the boy shares his fantastic and poetic journey, he reveals profound lessons and observations regarding life, love, and the importance of looking with our hearts.

    Who should read The Little Prince?

    • The young at heart who feel lost in the absurdity of the adult world
    • Weary souls looking to recapture their misplaced innocence and imagination
    • Daydreamers who’d like to enrich their lives with an existential classic

    About the Author

    Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was a French author and aviator who studied in the prestigious art school l'Ecole des Beaux-Arts before joining the military in 1921. His career as a pilot took him all over the world before he disappeared during a reconnaissance mission over Corsica in 1944. His other works include Wind, Sand and Stars and The Wisdom of the Sands.

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