The Little Prince

The Little Prince Quotes and Analysis

I am thirsty for that water.

The little prince, p. 71

What water does the little prince refer to? This water is not from a Saharan well in the wastes of the desert, but the water of a village well with rim, pulley, and bucket. This well is a place of life; the cord connects to the water contained in the depths of mother earth. Here the water is something else than just refreshing because it was born from the walk under the stars, the song of the pulley, and the effort of the arms. It is good for the heart. It is in the well of water of each of us that is hidden the truth of life.

If you tame me, we'll need each other.

The fox, p. 59

This is a simple but beautifully moving phrase accounting for the special nature of relationships, whether between man and animal, man and man, or man and flower. The fox knows that it takes time and patience to turn someone who starts off being anonymous or insignificant into someone who means a great deal, but that ultimately it is worth it.

"Goodbye," said the Fox. "Here is my secret. It's quite simple: One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes."

The fox, p. 63

This is perhaps the most famous line in the entire book, and for a good reason: it sets out the author's viewpoint on what makes life truly worth living, which is to cultivate relationships that are based on deep and meaningful connections rather than superficial ones. It allows the prince to understand what the issue was with his rose and to appreciate her for who she truly is. It solidifies the pilot's understanding of why the little prince is so special and what exactly the pilot was onto back when he was a child and drew the boa constrictor with the elephant in its stomach. Numbers, pride, compliments, books, and other such things the grownups tout as important really are not, and it takes a young prince to set the record straight.

It'll look as if I'm suffering. It'll look a little as if I'm dying. I'll look that way.

The little prince, p. 78

In this quote, the author distinguishes between body and soul. When the snake bites the prince, he is only biting the boy's body, and his soul can move through space and time to rejoin his precious flower. Saint-Exupéry leaves the boy's fate ambiguous through this comment, the fact that the narrator does not find his body, and the fact that he is always reminded of his little friend when he looks up at the stars. Whether or not readers are supposed to think that somehow the prince made it in some physical form back to his rose, it is clear that the two were reunited at least in spirit. Furthermore, the boy's body being invisible does not take away his essence; even when a person is not physically there due to separation of any kind, love endures.

It was as if I was carrying a fragile treasure.

The narrator, p. 68

In this short and melancholy comment, the narrator indicates just how precious the boy is to him and how light and ephemeral he actually is. He is barely a body anymore; in a short while he will "die" and his body will vanish. The narrator's comments on how small and fragile he is reinforces how a part of love is separation. Everyone is fated to die, despite how young or vibrant or important they are.

At least his work has some meaning.

The little prince, p. 40

One of Saint-Exupéry's themes is how man must do useful work or risk being irrelevant or self-aggrandizing. Almost all of the adults the prince meets are engaged in touting their own accomplishments or engaging in absurd work - counting stars, ruling over no one, clamoring for compliments, selling sham pills, or writing books about things one has never seen. The prince's work in raking his volcanoes and tending to his flower, however, are imbued with meaning because they serve a purpose. He comes to realize that his time spent with his flower is even more important, as it fostered their deep connection. Grownups can often miss these connections because they are so fixated on insignificant things.

I would put myself on his level and talk about bridge and golf and politics and neckties. And my grown-up was glad to know such a reasonable person.

The narrator, p. 3

This is a subtly irony in this comment because what the narrator describes as things grownups like end up sounding very dull and quotidian even though grownups assign immense importance to them. Instead of getting to indulge his creativity and imagination, the narrator has to conform to societal expectations and discourse on the aforementioned. He has to squash aspects of who he really is, and the prince is the only one who can bring them out. Saint-Exupéry suggests that adult readers ought to be wary of being too grownup because it is inauthentic and boring.

My flower is ephemeral, the little prince thought to himself...

The narrator, p. 47

This is a bittersweet lesson the prince has to learn, and a lesson all readers have to learn as well. The people (or in this case, flowers) we love do not live forever; a natural part of life is death. The prince probably did not think about this when he left the flower, frustrated by her behavior and demands. Now he knows that she will eventually die, which makes his sojourn on Earth intolerable to him and provokes him to die himself so he can join her back on his planet.

Men occupy very little space on Earth.

The narrator, p. 48

This is another funny comment by the narrator, especially after all his to-do with numbers and armies of lamplighters. By stating that men do not occupy a lot of space, he is actually deflating their pretensions. Men think they own the land and have dominion over it; the king thinks he rules over everyone and everything, the businessman claims to own the stars, and the geographer thinks he knows everything about the land. In reality, man is small and nature is more vast and powerful, though in man's sound and fury it might seem like he is in charge. In this quote, the narrator simply validates what the prince has been discovering in all of his visits with grownups - that they think a lot more of themselves than they ought to and believe themselves more conspicuous than they really are.

As for me, nothing in the universe can be the same if somewhere, no one knows where, a sheep we never saw has or has not eaten a rose...

The narrator, p. 83

The narrator tries to reassure himself that he drew a muzzle on a sheep and that the rose will be safe, but the fact is that he cannot truly remember. There are two important things here. First, the narrator has not yet learned the lesson the little prince has - things are ephemeral and will eventually vanish and loss is a part of life. Second, and on a rather different note, the mere fact that this question of whether or not a sheep eats a rose - to most adults, a rather irrelevant and anodyne event - vexes the narrator so much and bothers the readers so much is that he and we have come to embrace the prince's view of life - forget pride and money and numbers, because it is our love and care for those that are important to us that really matters. The sheep eating the prince's rose would be a tragedy because we know that he loves her so very much.