The story of The Little Prince is recalled in a sombre, measured tone by the pilot-narrator, in memory of his small friend, "a memorial to the prince—not just to the prince, but also to the time the prince and the narrator had together". The Little Prince was created when Saint-Exupéry was "...an expatriate and distraught about what was going on in his country and in the world." It was written during his 27-month sojourn in North America, almost as a sort of credo, "carefully employing the expressions of despair, loneliness, and triumph throughout its plotline."
According to one analysis, "the story of the Little Prince features a lot of fantastical, unrealistic elements... You can't ride a flock of birds to another planet... The fantasy of the Little Prince works because the logic of the story is based on the imagination of children, rather than the strict realism of adults."
An exquisite literary perfectionist akin to the 19th century French poet Stéphane Mallarmé, Saint-Exupéry produced draft pages "covered with fine lines of handwriting, much of it painstakingly crossed out, with one word left standing where there were a hundred words, one sentence substitut[ing] for a page...." He worked "long hours with great concentration". According to the author himself it was extremely difficult to start his creative writing processes. Biographer Paul Webster wrote of the aviator-author's style "Behind Saint-Exupéry's quest for perfection was a laborious process of editing and rewriting which reduced original drafts by as much as two-thirds of their length." The French author frequently wrote at night, usually starting about 11 p.m. accompanied by a tray of strong black coffee. In 1942 Saint-Exupéry related to his American English teacher, Adèle Breaux, that at such a time of night he felt "free" and able to concentrate, "writing for hours without feeling tired or sleepy" until he instantaneously dozed off. He would wake up later, in daylight, still at his desk with his head on his arms. Saint-Exupéry stated it was the only way he could work, as once he started a writing project it became an obsession.[Note 4][Note 5]