“Why do you think Saint-Exupéry choose to tell this story in such a figurative language?
In The Little Prince, Saint-Exupéry uses metaphorical language to show how each of the characters encountered throughout the story, while literally living on their own little worlds, are also figuratively living their lives in a way that isolates them from the larger part of society. In this way the universe Saint-Exupérty creates represents the entirely of human society, while each little planet or asteroid represents a small corner of the total experience available to humanity. Nevertheless the inhabitants of each small world are only concerned with the immediacy of their own surroundings. Thus, The Little Prince is a story about the effects of isolation on the mind, and the effect of curiosity about what lies outside of one’s own experiences.
Traveling to other planets via a flock of passing birds, the little prince encounters various other planets inhabited by an assortment of strange characters, such a king who rules a tiny planet with no subjects, but who nevertheless claims he rules other everything, even other stars. Yet his power resides in his only giving commands that can be reasonably obeyed. On the other plants the prince visits he encounters other people similarly lost in their own worlds. In fact the allegory extents to his own tiny world, for the prince’s leaving behind of the flower and the emotions that it stirs in him are an allegory for a romantic relationship, and Saint-Exupérty characterization of the relationship between the flower and the prince is inspired by the challenges of his own marriage and the circumstances surrounding his writing of the book during World War II (Gopnik, 2014).
Furthermore in the context of the story the prince himself is an allegory for the creativity of childhood. The aviator who narrates the story recalls that as a child he drew a boa constrictor that ate an elephant, but adults who saw the drawing, which was flat on both ends with a lump in the middle, mistook it for a drawing of a hat. The aviator becomes discouraged by this experience and is dissuaded from pursuing a career in art, but upon meeting the childish prince is inspired and even commanded to draw again. Thus the prince is an allegory for that childhood creative that is free from the preconceived notions and expectations that are developed in adulthood as we age (Konnikova, 2012).
Gopnik, A. (2014, Apr. 29). The strange triumph of “The Little Prince”. The New Yorker. Retrieved from http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/the-strange-triumph-of-the-little-prince/
Konnikova, M. (2012). The big lesson of a little prince: (re)capture the creativity of childhood. Scientific American. Mar. Retrieved from http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/literally-psyched/the-big-lesson-of-a-little-prince-recapture-the-creativity-of-childhood/
Saint-Exupéry, A. (1943). The Little Prince. Trans. Katherine Woods. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World.”
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