I first read The Little Prince in middle school and from what I remember, I wasn’t too fond of it. I found it to be uninteresting and a waste of my time. However, when I read it again for this class several years down the road I had a newfound appreciation for it and that might even be understating how much I truly enjoyed it this time around. It was almost immediately obvious to me why I liked it so much more the second time…I got older. The first time I read it I was a different person; reading was still a regular past time of mine, I didn’t have much to worry about school wise, I was largely still the same little kid I had been since around third or fourth grade. The second time I read it I definitely noticed something different: a sense of loss. I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic for that little kid version of myself, something I was still close to in middle school so the effect of the book was lost on me at that point in my life. Reading The Little Prince today makes my childhood seem almost like a distant memory that I have lost the point of. It serves as a reminder to never forget that child version of yourself because that is ultimately the wisest you have ever been. The book if anything is more for adults than children. For adults it is a reminder of when we were the best and purest versions of ourselves. For children it is just a book telling them things they already know.
The pilot serves as the adult in the story who represents the kind of person The Little Prince aims to help. Someone who has forgotten or who maybe has never known what it is like to be a child. There is a difference between acting childlike and being immature and The Little Prince shows us this difference. To be childlike is not to be immature; to be childlike is not to be stupid or simple; to be childlike is to be wise, is to have clear thought, to know more about the world than anyone else because you can see what is not there. That is what it means to be a child.
There is nothing else in the world more important to the human race than being young. It seems to be an eternal and universal goal to stay as young as possible for as long as possible. Unfortunately for us, the world does not support childlike behavior. We have to “grow up” and take responsibility for ourselves, losing our free spirit in the process. What The Little Prince questions is this: Why does growing up mean losing what makes us happy? Why can we not ask questions? Why do we have to take orders? Give orders? Why can we not just live? It is inspiring to see The Little Prince, the pinnacle of youth, so welcome to the idea of death. Children seem to be the only ones exempt from that universal goal of staying young. They want to grow up, see the world(s), meet new people, and see new things. They don’t want to grow up to become just another “grown up” who sees things only in simple absolutes, they can only imagine themselves having a child’s mind forever. The Little Prince accepts death so openly because he sees what we cannot. Only a child can see death is not the end just as the drawing of a boa constrictor is not a hat. We, the pilot can’t fully understand and maybe we never will. Let us hope that we tell our own children of The Little Prince, so they can finally tell us where he has gone.