The Little Prince (Saint-Exupéry)
Very brief summary
As the pilot was flying over the Sahara, his plane broke down.
He made a forced landing in the middle of the desert and began fixing the plane.
One day at dawn the pilot was awakened by a little boy who had come out of nowhere. It was the Little Prince.
The pilot became attached to the Little Prince. Talking to him, the pilot learned that he came from the small asteroid B-612. The prince lived lonely on his planet, cooking his meals on two knee-high volcanoes and weeding out baobab sprouts in the morning, until one day a seed was carried to the asteroid, from which a beautiful rose grew.
The Little Prince was delighted with the visitor and fell in love with her, but the rose proved to be proud and resentful. She tormented the Little Prince with her caprices, and he set out on a long journey.
The Little Prince visited the six nearest asteroids, where the king, the ambitious, the drunkard, the businessman, the lanternman, and the geographer lived, and then he flew to Earth. The prince landed in the middle of the Sahara and met a snake who promised to use her venom to bring him home whenever he wanted.
Then the Little Prince stumbled upon an entire garden of roses and realized that his rose was not unique. This made him very sad, but then the wise Fox came to him and explained that a thing, a person or a flower must be tamed, only then they will become the only thing in the world that is unlike others.
The Little Prince realized that the rose had tamed him long ago. He wanted to return to the rose and enlisted the help of the snake. As parting, the Little Prince gave the aviator, whom he had managed to tame, his tinkling laughter - the aviator will always hear it when he looks at the stars.
The chapter titles are tentative.
The author apologizes for dedicating this novella to his adult friend. He did it to support him in his time of need. And since "all adults were children first, only few of them remember it," the author corrects himself and dedicates the book to his friend, but when he was a child.
Chapter 1: The Elephant in the Boa Constrictor
When the pilot was six years old, he saw a picture in a book in which a boa constrictor was swallowing an animal whole. The pilot then drew a picture of an elephant being swallowed by a boa constrictor, but his parents thought it was a hat. Then he drew the boa constrictor from the inside, and the adults advised him "not to draw snakes either from the outside or from the inside, but to be more interested in geography, history, arithmetic, and spelling."
Adults never understand anything themselves, and it is very tedious for children to have to explain and explain everything to them all the time.
The narrator no longer drew, but became a pilot and flew around the world. He lived among the adults for a long time, but "didn't think any better of them," because none of them ever realized that the pilot's drawing was not a hat, but a boa constrictor that had swallowed an elephant.
Chapter 2: Meet the Little Prince
One day a pilot had to make a forced landing in the Sahara to fix his plane. He barely had enough water for a week. The pilot was awakened at dawn by a small voice asking him to draw a lamb. It was the Little Prince. It was not as if he were lost in the desert and dying of hunger and thirst. The aviator couldn't refuse him and drew what he knew how to do - an elephant in a boa constrictor. The little prince immediately realized that the drawing was not a hat, but an elephant in a boa constrictor, and said that he only wanted a lamb, because "everything in his house is very small."
The pilot drew several lambs, but none of them appealed to the little guy. Finally the pilot drew a box, which supposedly contained a lamb, and the prince was quite happy with that.
Chapters 3-6. Asteroid B-612
The pilot finds out that the prince came from a small planet the size of a house. It was most likely asteroid B-612, discovered in 1909 by a Turkish astronomer. The aviator gave such a detailed account of the asteroid because adults only believe in numbers, and that would convince them of the existence of the Little Prince.
There were many baobab seeds in the soil of B-612. Huge baobabs could tear the planet apart with their roots, so the Little Prince weeded out their sprouts every morning.
- There's a firm rule," the Little Prince told me later. - Get up in the morning, wash your face, tidy up, and immediately tidy up your planet.
When the Little Prince got sad and lonely, he would watch the sunsets. The asteroid was so small that you could watch sunsets many times a day-just move a chair. One day the prince saw 43 sunsets in a row.
Chapters 7-8. Beautiful Flower
On the fifth day, the Little Prince asked the aviator if the lamb eats flowers with thorns. The pilot was busy and angry: he couldn't get the plane fixed. But the Little Prince, "asking a question ... never gave up until he got an answer." He was offended that the pilot spoke to him "like an adult," and he cried.
It turned out that there was a beautiful flower with thorns growing on B-612, whose seed was accidentally brought to the asteroid, and the little boy was afraid that the lamb would eat it. The prince loved the guest and devotedly cared for it: watered it, covered it from the wind. The guest turned out to be proud and resentful. She tormented the Little Prince, and he decided to go on a journey. Now the prince understood that one should not listen to the flowers, but simply enjoy their fragrance.
The aviator comforted the Little Prince and promised to draw a muzzle for the lamb.
Chapters 9-15. The King, the Ambitious, the Drunkard, the Businessman, the Lanternist, and the Geographer
The little prince told how he had tidied up his planet, cleaned up three volcanoes - one extinct and two active, on which he cooked food - and set off on his journey. At parting, Belle apologized for her behavior and confessed that she loved the prince, too.
First, the Little Prince visited the six nearest asteroids. On the first one lived the king. He was happy to see the Little Prince: at last he could be king for someone. The monarch was wise and gave only those orders that his subjects could carry out. When the prince wanted to admire the sunset, the king commanded that the sun set in the evening.
The little prince did not want to wait until evening, so he decided to continue his journey. The king asked him to stay, to be his minister, but the prince refused. The king could not allow himself to be disobeyed, and commanded the Little Prince to become an ambassador.
On the second planet lived an ambitious man. He asked the prince to pat him on the back and began bowing out, taking off his funny hat. The ambitious man wanted to be recognized as the smartest, richest, and cleverest, even though he was the only inhabitant of the planet. The prince shrugged his shoulders and decided that "adults are very strange people."
On the third planet lived a drunkard. He felt bad about his drinking, but he kept drinking to forget about it. The prince became very sad.
The fourth planet belonged to a businessman. The businessman was sure that he owned the stars, for so far "no one had guessed to take possession of them." He spent days counting the stars to write down their number on a piece of paper and put it in the bank. The little prince said that the stars were of no use to anyone who owned them, and went on his way.
On the fifth planet, the smallest, there was a lantern, and a lanternman lived. He had to light the lantern in the evenings and extinguish it in the mornings. Over time, the planet began to rotate very quickly, and the lanternman had to light and extinguish the lantern every minute. He was very tired and wanted to sleep, but he could not break his agreement and quit his work. The prince thought that the lantern-keeper was better than a king, an ambitious man, a drunkard and a businessman, for "he thinks not only of himself."
On the sixth planet lived a geographer. He wrote thick books about travel, not by traveling, but by writing down other people's stories. The geographer advised the Little Prince to visit the planet Earth: "it has a pretty good reputation."
Chapters 16-20. The Little Prince Arrives on Earth
There were many thousands of kings, ambitious men, drunks, businessmen, lanternmen, and geographers living on Earth. But the prince landed in the Sahara and met a snake. It said it possessed power. People touched by the snake went back to the land from which they came. And the Little Prince, when he wanted to, could return home with its help.
The prince crossed the desert, but found no people. Finally he stumbled upon a garden full of roses, realized that his beautiful flower was a rose, "and felt very, very unhappy."
His beauty told him that there was none like her in the whole universe. And there in front of him are five thousand exactly the same flowers in the garden alone!
It turned out that he possessed only an ordinary rose and three knee-high volcanoes. The little prince thought, "What kind of a prince am I after this..." and he cried.
Chapter 21. Meeting the Wise Fox
The little prince was hailed by the Fox. He said that his life was boring: people hunted him, and he hunted chickens. The prince, who was very lonely, asked the Fox to play with him. The fox said he could not do so because he had not yet tamed him. To tame means "to create a bond. If the prince tames the Fox, they will be the only ones for each other and the Fox's life will be illuminated by love.
The little prince realized that the rose had tamed him and was the only rose in the world, unlike any other rose.
The fox asked the prince to tame it, but he replied that he didn't have time, he "still had to find friends and learn different things." The fox said that friends must also be learned and tamed. He explained to the prince that taming is not a quick matter, and "you have to observe the rituals" that distinguish one day, hour or minute from the rest of their kind and make them special.
Gradually the prince tamed the Fox. When it was time to say goodbye, the Fox said he would weep for the prince, but still now he had someone who was the only one in the world. The Fox also told the Little Prince a secret: "Only the heart is alert. You can't see the most important things with your eyes. The rose is so dear to the prince because he has given all his time to her, so he is responsible for her, he is "forever responsible for all those he has tamed.
Chapters 22-23. The Arrowman and the Merchant
Then the Little Prince met the pointsman who sent the trains. The prince never understood why people ride the trains, where they were in a hurry, what they were looking for. The pointsman said that even the driver did not know that.
Then the prince met a vendor of thirst-quenching pills. After one pill, he didn't feel thirsty for a week, which saved time. The little prince thought: if he had free time, he would just go to the spring.
Chapters 24-25. A Well in the Desert
A week had passed since the aviator had his accident and he was out of water. He thought that the Little Prince didn't feel hungry and thirsty, so he didn't understand the danger the pilot was in. And then the prince said that he was thirsty, too, because "the heart needs water, too," and suggested finding a well.
They walked for a long time through the desert. The little prince said that the desert was good with springs hiding in it. The pilot agreed with him: "Whether it's the house, the stars, or the desert, the most beautiful thing about them is what you can't see with your eyes."
At dawn they found a real village well. The prince drank the water, which was "born of the long journey under the stars, of the creaking of the gate, of the effort of ... hands" and was "like a gift to the heart."
The prince then said that he had been traveling the earth for a year and it was time for him to return to his rose. He stayed at the well and sent the pilot to fix the plane.
Chapters 26-27. Farewell to the Little Prince
In the morning, the aviator returned to the well. He did not want the Little Prince to leave, for he had managed to tame him.
The prince gave the aviator his laughter. Now, looking up into the night sky, the pilot will hear the stars laughing, and that will comfort him, and to the prince each star will be like a well with a creaking gate, because "each man has his own stars.
At night they went to the place where the Little Prince landed. A snake bit him and the child fell into the sand. When it dawned, the pilot did not find his body. He fixed the plane and returned to the people.
Six years had passed since then. The pilot missed the Little Prince very much. At night he listened to the laughter of the stars and wondered if the lamb had eaten the rose. After all, he had forgotten to draw a strap to his muzzle.
Look up at the sky. And ask yourself: "Is that rose alive or is it gone? What if a lamb ate it?" And you'll see: everything will be different...
And never any adult will understand how important it is!
The retelling is based on translation by Nora Gal (MTF, 2019).