the little prince

The Little Prince – the tale of returning - Part 3

back to home pdf share

To part 2

The conversation between the two characters reveals mutual understanding and unison. When the Little Prince asks where people are, since one feels so alone in the desert, the snake says: “It is also lonely among men.” There is nothing to say to that since this is exactly what the tiny man experienced upon meeting the inhabitants of the asteroids he visited. It seems that the snake does not only state a general truth, but it has somehow subtracted its answer from the peculiar visitor. As the serpent twines himself around the Little Prince’s ankle it notes – in a rather grisly fashion – that it can send anybody back to Earth with its touch (fangs). But the fragile little man is so pure the snake shows him mercy. It offers to help him get back to his planet. The Little Prince has no doubt about the nature of this help. Complete understanding is revealed as they sit as silently as the desert, the Little Prince’s desert flickering above.

A “flower of no account at all” informs the protagonist that one can never know where to find men: “The wind blows them away. They have no roots, and that makes their life very difficult.” No reply comes from the tiny wanderer, he only says goodbye. It must feel strange for him to have roots growing towards the sky.

He comes across a road leading to a rose garden. There are five thousand flowers there and all look like his “one of a kind” rose he thought to be unique. He is distressed and bursts into tears.

And then the fox appears. It is not an accident that it arrives right there, by the roses. The fox and the roses – especially the rose of the Little Prince – are bound together. They are connected through their fiery color, feminine traits and personality. Besides them and the “flower of no account at all,” all the other characters in the tale are men or masculine beings. The life and thinking of the rose and the fox represent the necessity and hardship of affiliation, and the desire to be tamed and become complete. They may be tempted to manipulate others or put on a show to reach their goal. These tricks are not needed if one recognizes and is able to control the magical powers within and uses them for pure and noble purposes.

When the Little Prince meets the fox he only hears a greeting, but does not see anyone. He turns around, but still cannot see the fox, only when the voice tells him “I am right here, under the apple tree.” All this forecasts that the encounter with the fox will turn around, change (“convert”) the Little Prince’s life and way of thinking, and will lead him towards completeness (apple tree).

The fox demonstrates to him and makes him understand the value of his rose and the way he could connect to her. No wonder the fox knows all this: he represents the rose, the rose’s inner realm. It translates the rose’s fragrance into words.

Before giving a secret as a present, the fox advises the Little Prince to go back to the five thousand roses in the garden. The number five thousand can be traced back to the number five, the magical pentagram, which is the symbol of divine order and rebirth. The proportions and structure of the rose are also connected to the number five.

The Little Prince’s words aimed at the five thousand roses seem quite hurtful. He has not recovered from his disappointment over the fact that his “one of a kind” rose’s value was (seemingly) questioned by the garden. However the protagonist’s speech is not selfish, exclusionary or degrading, but a praise of the one Eternal Rose. One instead of many, internal instead of external: the rose of the heart. If he can unite with her, all roses will be One for him – he will be responsible for all of them.

It is only after this when the Little Prince receives the fox’s famous words of initiation:

“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
“It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.”
“You are responsible for your rose...”

Here starts religio, and more specifically the phase of Faith.

FAITH

After the encounter with the fox the Little Prince meets two people whose occupation and worldview is similar to those living on the asteroids.

The first is a railway switchman. Since he met the fox, the protagonist’s perspective and life have changed – it runs on new “tracks.” The hurtle and “roars of thunder” made by trains diverted from one platform to the other are the complete opposite of the desert’s emptiness and slow silence. The destination of the vehicles seems quite futile to the railway switchman. For him meaning and power lies in his ability to send trains to different platforms. His mechanical task resembles the one of the lamplighter – it seems to be its equivalent on Earth. The railway switchman also mirrors the king as he also shares a pearl of wisdom in relation to the passengers: “No one is ever satisfied where he is”. These words must deeply affect the Little Prince, but, according to the tale, he does not react to them. Sayings and maxims that bear teaching value can come from unforeseen sources if one is able to notice and take heed of them.

The other character is a merchant who sells pills that can quench thirst. With one pill one hour can be “saved” which otherwise would have been spent on drinking. The seller of this seemingly useful product resembles the businessman and the scientist of the asteroids.

Thus the last three seemingly useful characters of the asteroids are evoked in these two earthly individuals. The third person the Little Prince meets on Earth is the pilot, who is trying to fix his plane’s engine in the desert, far away from everybody else. He is somebody who deserves the protagonist’s time and friendship. This is proven by the fact that when the Little Prince asks the pilot to draw him a sheep, the man tries to, but only fulfills the protagonist’s wish on the fourth attempt when he uses an unconventional technique: he draws a box saying the sheep is inside. This was a lesson to learn for the man: as a typical adult he only sought to evade the task, but due to the Little Prince he had to face the gap between his pure child self and his adult self focusing on practicalities.

The friendship between the protagonist and the pilot deepens; they learn more and more from and about each other. They have two separate worlds, but their roots are the same. This shared foundation increasingly comes to light and – aside from a few instances of recklessness, disagreement and anger – it leads to mutual understanding and solidarity.

Their behavior when the pilot runs out of his water supply is the best example of the fact that they come from different worlds. In fear of dying the pilot gives a cross reply to the Little Prince whom the physical needs of eating and drinking obviously do not affect (but sleeping does). The protagonist understands the gravity (and teaching value) of the situation, so he claims to be thirsty too and suggests finding a well. The idea seems absurd to the pilot, but since he does not have a better plan they set off. After hours of wandering, night falls. The characters sit down to rest under the starry sky. When the pilot questions whether the Little Prince is truly thirsty, the tiny man says: “Water may also be good for the heart...”

The pilot does not understand him, but it is revealed that there are two kinds of thirst: one of the body and one of the soul. The two characters are thirsty in different ways: they need a well that can supply both. They are fatigued. Before the Little Prince falls asleep he proclaims two important thoughts:

“The stars are beautiful, because of a flower that cannot be seen”.
“What makes the desert beautiful, is that somewhere it hides a well.”

Two analogous notions. The second concept touches the pilot and he expresses agreement. As he tenderly watches the sleeping prince’s face – the mirror of his soul – he understands that “What is most important is invisible...”

He realizes and comprehends that what is different, what exists at a higher level – what does not come from this world – is invisible, but it shines through the visible and makes it more beautiful. As he walks on with the Little Prince asleep in his arms, he finds the well at dawn – when light is born. Here starts the phase of Faith for the pilot and of Hope for the Little Prince.

To be continued in part 4

back to home pdf share