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It has been at least thirteen years since I last heard the story of The Little Prince. The story of a man stranded in a desert encountering this curious little prince from asteroid B-612 was all but lost in my recollections of childhood. I had forgotten the feeling of wonder and awe looking at the beautiful watercolor pages as a child. When I first looked at the reading list for this semester of Texts and Critics, I was surprised at the presence of this quintessential book from everyone’s childhood, why were we reading it in college? Only upon opening its pages did I remember the hidden meanings and stories, this time more concrete than ever before. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry had hidden countless motifs throughout The Little Prince, making the process of interpreting this piece of literature seemingly simple. Yet, it is difficult to nail down a single interpretation, or even a single meaning behind the placement of particular objects throughout the story. For this reason, I believe every person who reads The Little Prince will take away something different from the plot depending on their life experiences. Stanley Fish so rightly said in How to Recognize a Poem When You See One, “Interpretation is not the art of construing but the art of constructing.” We all construct our own interpretations of The Little Prince, and all are accurate depictions, because the way we find meaning in the plot depends a lot upon ourselves.One of the common themes I found throughout The Little Prince was that of the abandonment of creativity. Throughout the book, comments on the lack of imagination and creativity among grown-ups are quite abundant. The narrator himself offers up an experience in the first pages of the book with the picture of the boa constrictor. As a young child, the narrator drew a boa constrictor that had swallowed an elephant whole. He showed it to grown-ups, and they “advised me to put away my drawings of boa constrictors, outside or inside, and apply myself instead to geography, history, arithmetic, and grammar. That is why I abandoned, at the age of six, a magnificent career as an artist” (Saint-Exupéry, pg. 2). Grown-ups couldn’t see the narrators artwork with a creative eye or with the imagination of a six-year old. Where he saw a boa constrictor eating an elephant, they saw a dilapidated hat. This theme continues throughout the book, in Chapter IV, the little prince shows the importance grown-ups place on numbers instead of observations and imagination. “If you tell grown-ups, ‘I saw a beautiful red brick house, with geraniums in the windows and pigeons on the roof…’ they won’t be able to imagine such a house” (Saint-Exupéry, pg. 10). What leads to this loss of imagination as we grow older? It is implied throughout the text that adults become utilitarian, seeing the objects in the world around them for their importance and their price. They have forgotten to see the world in all its beauty and mystery. We have become too absorbed in the trivial dealings of daily life to ever look at something past surface value, we have lost the imaginations we once had. This loss of imagination and creativity is to our detriment, and The Little Prince aims to help us grown-ups realize this fact, but also encourage children to never let it go. Interpreting stories and their meanings can happen on a variety of different levels. It is important to look both at the surface of the plot and deep within. Only by looking at both can an attempt to determine the author’s intentions be made. Looking for the motif of creativity and imagination was not particularly difficult in The Little Prince, on the surface this theme was quite easy to pick out. However, if I was reading this thirteen years ago, this meaning would have remained hidden. Stanley Fish discusses viewing pieces of poetry with “poetry-seeing eyes.” Instead of using my “poetry-seeing eyes” I used my “message-seeing eyes” for this piece, allowing myself to look at the placement of characters and objects amongst the storyline. Looking beyond the surface of this piece, is where interpretation began to become difficult. According to Fish, “you will scrutinize the language of somethings… in such a way as to bring out the complexity you know to be ‘there’.” This certainly occurred during my hunt for hidden significance among The Little Prince. I knew that we were reading this book for a reason, there had to be really profound meaning behind the words printed on these pages, so perhaps in my search for the hidden I created meaning out of nothing. In this search for deeper meaning, I stumbled across a hidden allegory within this children’s book. The narrator of The Little Prince crash lands his airplane in the Sahara Desert, desperately trying to repair it before he dies of dehydration. There he meets the little prince, who he grows closer to as the days pass. The prince seems unwaveringly calm when faced with the vast expanses of the desert, he does not fear what will happen, he knows that somewhere nearby lies a well. The well will be their salvation, the water they need to live. He soon leads the narrator to this well, telling him that they will soon depart ways before dying of a deadly snake bite. We can liken this story to that of our own lives. Often we find ourselves stranded in the desert alone, trying to salvage what we can from the smoldering ruins that hold us to humanity; we are lost within our depression or anxiety, or struggling after the loss of a loved one. Our return to reality can be difficult; we must each walk across our deserts, encountering obstacles along the way. Our little prince wanders out of the desert toward us, he is our savior leading us to the well after we repair our plane. It is easy to see that the little prince can be likened to Jesus Christ, leading us throughout the desert of life gently toward the well were we will find sweet relief from the danger around us. At the well he will leave us once more, dying so that we may return to our home. When it comes to looking at the many interpretations someone may draw from reading The Little Prince, I would have to say the allegory of the little prince as Jesus Christ is my favorite. I don’t consider myself a very religious person anymore, but nonetheless, finding this hidden motif within the book as one of the strongest and most interesting. It takes some digging to find all the symbolism and connections, it isn’t superficial, and for that reason I find it the most compelling interpretation. Over the course of The Little Prince, dozens of interpretations and hidden meanings can be extrapolated, showing the complexity and timelessness of the story. From growing up and losing the vivid imaginations of our childhood, to finding our savior in the desert of life, there is a meaning for everyone. We all construct our own interpretation based on our personal experiences and thoughts, and although challenging, it can be rewarding to find the author’s intentions and personality hidden within the text. Let us all look with our “message-eyes” at the world and the literature around us.

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