I never read The Little Prince growing up. So, reading it for my last class as an MBA student has proved enlightening. If you haven’t read it, you must – it’s a different story for everyone, depending where you are and what you have experienced in your life. To a child, it’s a story about imagination. To an adult, it’s a story about relationships…and once again finding your imagination.
The main characters hunger both for adventure in the outside world, while balancing introspection. This little book teaches that the responsibility demanded by relationships with others leads to a greater understanding and appreciation of one’s responsibilities to the world as a whole. Of all the characters that the prince comes across, I related most to the story of the rose, a story about real love. The prince and the rose have a hard time communicating their love to each other. In his frustration and yearning to see the world, the prince leaves the rose behind. When the prince comes across a whole garden of roses, he is instantly sad…he had believed that his rose was the only rose. He believed her no longer unique.
But when the prince meets a fox, this fox explains that investing oneself in another person makes that person, and everything associated with him or her, more special, more unique. The prince realized “I was too young to know how to love her.” He walked over to the garden of roses that looked exactly like his rose:
“You’re lovely, but you’re empty. One couldn’t die for you. Of course an ordinary passerby would think my rose looked just like you. But my rose, all on her own, is more important than you altogether, since she’s the one I’ve watered. Since she’s the one I put under glass. Since she’s the one I sheltered behind a screen. Since she’s the one for whom I killed the caterpillars. Since’s she the one I listened to when she complained, or when she boasted, or even sometimes when she said nothing at all. Since she’s my rose.”
Eventually, the rose becomes the reason the prince wants to return to his planet. The Little Prince shows that what one gives to another is even more important than what that other gives back in return. “Eyes are blind. You have to look with the heart.”
A children’s story, but I don’t think I would have understood it as a child – I would have been enthralled with the stars, the prince, the fox, the flowers, and all the funny-dressed men he meets along the way. But I think you have to go through a wee bit of life to understand this book. Frankly, you need to go through a wee bit of life to understand anything at all.