The Little Prince and what’s ephemeral versus what’s eternal

The Little Prince by Antoine de St. Exupery is a wonderful novel. The Little Prince was originally written in French in 1943 as Le Petit Prince. Since 1943, the wise little boy from Asteroid B-612 has led children and their adults to deeper understandings of love, friendship, and responsibility.

The Little Prince

In fact, it is one of those books that fuelled my imagination as a child, when I first got this book from my older cousin. It is a good novel, in great part, because it has very enjoyable characters. Part of what makes these characters so enjoyable is the fact they are each a paradox. The prince is an interesting character and the protagonist to follow through the book. The way the little prince never answers anyone else’s questions, yet always expects answers to his own, is amusing. He is childlike in appearance yet seems older in his wisdom. Another character, the wise fox, is the prince’s first friend on the Earth. The fox appears to be a silly animal at first, after one reads on, however, they discover he is not silly at all. Also the rose, the prince’s love, is very arrogant yet charming. The snake, whom the prince meets his first night on Earth, is dangerous yet helpful at the end when he assists the prince in returning to his home planet. These many-sided characters draw the reader in to the world of the little prince.

The writer writes in a very simplistic style which allows children as well as adults to fall in love with the book. In fact, The Little Prince is deceptively simple. The sentences may be written very simply, but some very deep meanings shine through. In fact, some of the best quotes on life and life-related events are mentioned in this book. One such example of a simple phrase with deep meanings is said in the thoughts of the author, “It is such a secret place, the land of tears.” This quote eloquently tells how no one can ever fully know why someone else is crying. Someone may think they know the reason, but they can never be sure.

When I read the book for the first time, I was curious about what exactly is this story about? And the point where I feel in love with this timeless classic is the very first page: St. Exupery shows his illustration of a boa constrictor swallowing an elephant. He asks the adults if they are frightened of his drawing. To this, the adults respond by asking why one should be frightened by a hat. Because of this situation, the reader knows the novel is composed of more than meets the eye. It illustrates another point about adults—how adults do not look beneath the surface to find what is underneath.

And then you have this wonderful explanation about something ephemeral versus the eternal. The little prince is very bothered by this controversy. The little prince loves a flower on his home planet, but he has to leave her behind when he explores the universe. The prince learns from a geographer that his flower is ephemeral, in other words, “in danger of speedy disappearance.” However, the prince learns from his friend, the fox, once you have “tamed” something and made it yours, it is eternally yours. The little prince befriends the rose, so now it will live forever in his heart. Likewise, once someone has become your friend, they will always be your friend. Friendship is eternal, it is unchangeable.

From reading this novel, I saw a whole new world. I have grown to love the stars as the little prince does, in fact I took a fascination in understanding the constellations, imagining things in the sky and making shapes and creatures out of clouds.

Some of the most wonderful quotes from the book, which I have been glued in my mind, are:

“Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them.”

“He who would travel happily must travel light.”

“It is only with one’s heart that one can see clearly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.”

Quote

“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

“Life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.”

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