While we forget some stories rather quickly, others stay with us for our whole life. To me Antoine de Saint-Exupéry‘s ‘The Little Prince‘ is such a story, because it offers something new to understand every time I read it.
Even though the book was written to be read by children (and it is a beautiful book to read to someone), it probably takes adults to decipher the hidden meanings and philosophies.
Well, having said that – just like a big old grown-up – there might be meanings that are only detectable for a child’s mind. (In that case: can you please write about them?)
When I tried to find out what lessons other people have learned from the little prince (to see whether I’d missed any), I found surprisingly few sites talking about that.
And only two worth mentioning…
Lessons in The Little Prince
An article by Kathryn Land sums up the messages quite nicely. She says they are:
- Look closer to see the real picture.
- Beware of the Boabab.
- It is more important to judge by deeds than by words.
- Think of someone besides yourself.
- Perceptions are not reality.
- I am unique in all the world.
- I am responsible for what I tame.
- It is not what can be seen that is important.
- Things (and people) are beautiful because of what they hide.
- There is nothing sad about an abandoned shell.
Now, some of these things have been quoted once or twice too often (like “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye”) and therefore have lost some of their purity to me.
But the concept of taming something or someone and then being responsible for it, him or her still strikes me in its (simple) truth.
And even though I still struggle to find the ending consolidating, understanding the lesson of ‘There is nothing say about an abandoned shell’ moves me.
Lauren Daley noticed that “we all start out as the kid who draws the boa constrictor eating an elephant — but so many end up as the adult who sees only a hat“.
In addition to that she points out that „most people forget that a child is not a person you once were — that child is still you. It never went anywhere“.
I think, Lauren really has a point there.
Now, I am really, really horrible at drawing (even boas with elephants in them), but I believe that it is essential to be able to apply a child’s perspective to things sometimes.
It helps – especially journalists – to remember how to explain things in the most simple, most understandable way (just like the lawyer’s technique in the movie ‘Philadelphia‘).
Going back to the basic ‘why’ and ‘how’ of things is sometimes all it needs to get something to click in someone else’s head.
My latest lesson learned from The Little Prince
Having spoken about what other people have learned from this story, I have discovered a lesson in it recently that (hopefully?) has changed my way of treating others:
On his journey the little prince visits the lonely king on his planet. This is the scene and also my latest lesson:
“If I ordered a general to fly from one flower to another like a butterfly, or to write a tragic drama, or to change himself into a sea bird, and if the general did not carry out the order that he had received, which one of us would be in the wrong?” the king demanded. “The general, or myself?”
“You,” said the little prince firmly.
“Exactly. One must require from each one the duty which each one can perform,” the king went on.
I can’t wait to see what else the little prince has to teach me.
If you are interested in finding some lessons in that story for yourself, you can (i.e.) order The Little Prince at amazon.co.uk.
Read about other people’s favourite books here.