The Little Prince

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The Pilot/Narrator Character Analysis

The narrator of the story, the pilot crashes in the middle of the Sahara desert when his engine fails. The pilot is a grownup, but one who has always been an explorer and is sympathetic to the values and perspectives of children, a trait that grows even more pronounced as he becomes close with the little prince. Although he's desperate to fix his engine so that he won't die of thirst in the desert, he comes to realize that his ability to comfort the little prince and to listen to his stories is even more essential. He decides to write and illustrate the book in order to remember his friendship with the little prince.

The Pilot/Narrator Quotes in The Little Prince

The The Little Prince quotes below are all either spoken by The Pilot/Narrator or refer to The Pilot/Narrator. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Relationships Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Harcourt Brace & Company edition of The Little Prince published in 291970.
Chapter 1 Quotes

In the course of this life I have had a great many encounters with a great many people who have been concerned with matters of consequence. I have lived a great deal among grown−ups. I have seen them intimately, close at hand. And that hasn't much improved my opinion of them.

Related Characters: The Pilot/Narrator (speaker)
Page Number: 5
Explanation and Analysis:

The narrator is explaining his test for learning whether or not he can speak of essential, interesting things to other grown-ups that he meets: whether or not they are able to see that his drawing is of not a hat but an elephant inside a boa constrictor. When the narrator says "matters of consequences," he uses the term to mean things of importance to grown-ups, which have little to do with what the book will argue is really important. 

Here, the narrator sets out to prove his authority in telling the story that follows. Since he has spent time among other grown-ups, he knows what they are like, and he is able to adequately judge the difference between them and children. Already, of course, we know which side the narrator is on, but his rhetorical openness also helps to win over the reader as the case is made for an embrace of the innocence, wonder, and magic of childhood.

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Chapter 2 Quotes

When a mystery is too overpowering, one dare not disobey. Absurd as it might seem to me, a thousand miles from any human habitation and in danger of death, I took out of my pocket a sheet of paper and my fountain−pen.

Related Characters: The Pilot/Narrator (speaker)
Page Number: 8
Explanation and Analysis:

The pilot has crashed in the desert and has met the little prince, who is insisting that he draw him a picture of a sheep. The pilot is confused and disoriented. He's not sure where he is and has no idea how he might get back to civilization. However, although he is certainly concerned with such practical matters, the pilot also reveals himself to be open-minded enough to acquiesce to the little prince's request. 

One of the markers of childhood, as opposed to adulthood, is a whimsical desire for beauty that has nothing to do with fixation on a certain task or goal. Most adults might find that the little prince's desire makes no sense, and is exasperating: while the pilot (an adult himself) is similarly confused, he is willing enough to humor the little prince, opening himself to whatever might happen next. 

Chapter 4 Quotes

On making his discovery, the astronomer had presented it to the International Astronomical Congress, in a great demonstration. But he was in Turkish costume, and so nobody would believe what he said.

Grown−ups are like that...

Related Characters: The Pilot/Narrator (speaker)
Page Number: 15
Explanation and Analysis:

The pilot is relating the story of the discovery of the planet, asteroid B-612, where he believes the little prince comes from. People only believed the report about the planet, he notes, when the astronomer - a Turkish man - wore European dress: when the same man had worn his native Turkish costume, no one had believed him. 

The pilot thus uses this story to critique narrow-mindedness, particularly regarding Western prejudices against people from other places and with other customs and appearances. But he makes an even more provocative statement than that when he argues that the story does not just account for European prejudice, but for prejudice by grown-ups in general. It is a characteristic of all adults, the argument goes, to be narrow-minded and petty, and to refuse to hear what is true because of superficial things like what someone looks like. Only children are open-minded and curious enough to really listen to what someone has to say, and to concentrate on the essential rather than being distracted by the irrelevant and the superficial. The pilot does not account for why this capacity shrinks, but it is implied that it must take place somehow in the process of growing up.

For I do not want any one to read my book carelessly. I have suffered too much grief in setting down these memories. Six years have already passed since my friend went away from me, with his sheep. If I try to describe him here, it is to make sure that I shall not forget him. To forget a friend is sad. Not every one has had a friend. And if I forget him, I may become like the grown−ups who are no longer interested in anything but figures...

Related Characters: The Pilot/Narrator (speaker), The Little Prince
Page Number: 18
Explanation and Analysis:

The pilot has apologized for not beginning his book with "Once upon a time..." and states that although he looks down upon the obsession of grown-ups with precise facts and figures, he reluctantly decided to be as precise as possible at the beginning. His reason for doing so, however, is so as not to become like the adults he scorns. Part of what these grown-ups miss, according to the pilot, is the joy and beauty that comes from deep, meaningful relationships. This sort of relationship is something that the pilot has had with the little prince, and he recognizes that it is precious and rare enough that he should do all he can so as not to forget him.

The pilot/narrator thus seems to foretell a rather melancholy ending to the story, since it seems that it will end with the separation between the pilot and the little prince. What rescues the story from being a tragedy though, is, at the very least, the fact that the pilot has gained something essential through his relationship with the prince.

In certain more important details I shall make mistakes, also. But that is something that will not be my fault. My friend never explained anything to me. He thought, perhaps, that I was like himself. But I, alas, do not know how to see sheep through the walls of boxes. Perhaps I am a little like the grown−ups. I have had to grow old.

Related Characters: The Pilot/Narrator (speaker), The Little Prince
Page Number: 19
Explanation and Analysis:

As the narrator continues to explain why he has tried to be as precise as possible - in order to never forget his friend, the little prince - he acknowledges that he will sometimes make mistakes or fail to tell the story exactly as it was. The way the narrator excuses himself from these mistakes is by referencing the fundamental difference between himself and the prince. As the epitome of childhood innocence and beauty, the prince is creative and imaginative - he can "see sheep through the walls of boxes," a gift that allows him to be flexible and, more importantly, to see through what is only seemingly there into the essential truth lying beneath. 

Although the narrator tends to consider childhood and adulthood as two separate, totally distinct things, here he admits that this separation can be blurred. Children, of course, grow up, and part of the bittersweet tone of this passage stems from the narrator's wistfulness at having to lose the innocence of youth as he has grown old. Still, he insists and will continue to insist that childhood is a state of mind as much as it is a physical range of ages: it is something that can easily be lost as one ages, but if one works hard enough, one can also try to keep it from slipping away.

Chapter 7 Quotes

"If someone loves a flower, of which just one single blossom grows in all the millions and millions of stars, it is enough to make him happy just to look at the stars. He can say to himself, 'Somewhere, my flower is there...' But if the sheep eats the flower, in one moment all his stars will be darkened... And you think that is not important!"

Related Characters: The Little Prince (speaker), The Pilot/Narrator, The Rose/Flower
Related Symbols: Stars
Page Number: 29-30
Explanation and Analysis:

The prince objects to the hierarchy created by the pilot, forcing him to reconsider what he assumes to be more or less important. For the pilot, the most pressing task of the moment is the obvious problem with his plane's motor. Fanciful stories about far-away roses in danger simply do not seem relevant to him.

But the little prince's speech implies that there may be a better way to think about what is important than simply equating it with what is immediate, present, and materially urgent. Instead, importance for the prince rests on the significance of relationships – even when there is no physical presence to bear witness to a certain relationship. As the prince looks out towards the stars, he can derive joy from knowing that the rose he loves is there, somewhere, even if he cannot see her. This distance, however, makes the relationship perilously fragile, even as it underlines how essential the rose is to the prince.

Chapter 17 Quotes

All humanity could be piled up on a small Pacific islet.

The grown−ups, to be sure, will not believe you when you tell them that. They imagine that they fill a great deal of space. They fancy themselves as important as the baobabs. You should advise them, then, to make their own calculations. They adore figures, and that will please them. But do not waste your time on this extra task. It is unnecessary. You have, I know, confidence in me.

Related Characters: The Pilot/Narrator (speaker)
Page Number: 68-70
Explanation and Analysis:

The narrator shifts his focus from the prince's adventures on the tiny planets he has visited to the planet Earth, where in the story he is about to land. He has just contrasted Earth to the small planets and their solitary inhabitants, but now he suggests that, although humans take up a great deal of space as they live now, they could in fact be confined to almost as small a surface as those minuscule planets. 

That grown-ups would refuse to believe this statement, according to the narrator, is not because they are skeptical of such mathematical calculations – indeed, the pilot notes how much adults adore such figures – but because they have such an inflated sense of self-worth. In the minds of adults, in addition, taking up physical space is equivalent to being important – an equivalence that is just another reminder, in the book, about the silly mistakes that can stem from adults' narrow-minded focus on what is in front of their eyes, as opposed to what is really valuable. 

Chapter 20 Quotes

And he was overcome with sadness. His flower had told him that she was the only one of her kind in all the universe. And here were five thousand of them, all alike, in one single garden!

Related Characters: The Pilot/Narrator (speaker), The Little Prince, The Rose/Flower
Page Number: 77
Explanation and Analysis:

In wandering around the planet Earth, the prince has stumbled upon a garden with thousands and thousands of roses. Although this garden is beautiful, the prince is horrified. He had believed his own rose when she had claimed she was unique in the universe: indeed, he had taken such good care of her in large part because he believed that she was irreplaceable. Now, the prince must grapple with the difficult realization that the flower that he loves, that he has tended to with such care, is literally one among thousands. 

At the moment, the prince cannot do anything other than cry. He is too distraught to fully come to terms with what this realization means. This scene, however, can be thought of as a turning point, in that the prince must now think about how to value what he loves for reasons other than that the object of his love is unique. Indeed, what it means to be unique, beyond simply one-of-a-kind in the universe, will be a question that he will return to.

Chapter 24 Quotes

"Yes," I said to the little prince. "The house, the stars, the desert—what gives them their beauty is something that is invisible!"

Related Characters: The Pilot/Narrator (speaker)
Page Number: 93
Explanation and Analysis:

The prince and the pilot are walking together through the desert in search of water, when the pilot begins to realize that the fact that water is hidden in the desert is what makes it so alluring. Ironically, it is the pilot's goal-driven, very adult focus on finding water that pushes him to learn an entirely different lesson.

He recognizes that, just as the fox had told the little prince, beauty truly does lie in what is invisible. Equipped with this realization, the pilot looks around him with new eyes. Ready and willing to believe that there is more to the world than what he sees and for which he possesses material evidence, the pilot is imbued with wonder. 

I said to myself, again: "What moves me so deeply, about this little prince who is sleeping here, is his loyalty to a flower—the image of a rose that shines through his whole being like the flame of a lamp, even when he is asleep..." And I felt him to be more fragile still. I felt the need of protecting him, as if he himself were a flame that might be extinguished by a little puff of wind...

Related Characters: The Pilot/Narrator (speaker), The Little Prince, The Rose/Flower
Page Number: 93-94
Explanation and Analysis:
As the pilot watches the little prince sleep, he too begins to learn a valuable lesson about friendship and love. Just as the prince has chosen to love a rose and take care of her as best he can, making her unique in the world as his chosen object of love (if not as the only rose in the world), the pilot has developed a true friendship with the prince. As a result, he too feels the need to protect the prince and to keep him innocent, free from the corruption of the world and the schemes of the adults who have lost their sense of wonder and compassion. At the same time as the prince is learning more about what it means to seek out the essential beyond the superficial, the pilot too is learning to modify his adult understanding of the world.
Chapter 27 Quotes

Here, then, is a great mystery. For you who also love the little prince, and for me, nothing in the universe can be the same if somewhere, we do not know where, a sheep that we never saw has—yes or no?—eaten a rose...

Look up at the sky. Ask yourselves: is it yes or no? Has the sheep eaten the flower? And you will see how everything changes...

And no grown−up will ever understand that this is a matter of so much importance!

Related Characters: The Pilot/Narrator (speaker), The Little Prince, The Rose/Flower
Page Number: 111
Explanation and Analysis:

As the narrator comes to the end of his story, he directly addresses the reader, asking us to align ourselves with the world view that he has developed through his relationship with the little prince. Throughout The Little Prince, we have seen a contrast between two ways of thinking: there is the grown-up way of thinking, which chooses what to value based on strange, distanced, and close-minded calculations; and there is the child's way of thinking, which chooses what to cherish based on essential, real values. Children do not need to think about whether what they love is "valuable" in economic or political terms: instead, their very act of choosing to love is what creates value. 

If the sheep has eaten the flower, this will undeniably be a great, painful loss for the prince, and the fact that even one person has loved the flower should make it a loss for us too. As he closes, then, the narrator challenges us to think about what is essential and what is truly valuable, and to break out of the way of thinking that most adults are condemned to follow. 

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The Pilot/Narrator Character Timeline in The Little Prince

The timeline below shows where the character The Pilot/Narrator appears in The Little Prince. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
The True and the Essential Theme Icon
Childhood vs. Adulthood Theme Icon
The narrator, a pilot, discusses his childhood attempts at drawing a boa constrictor eating an elephant. First, he draws... (full context)
The True and the Essential Theme Icon
Childhood vs. Adulthood Theme Icon
The narrator chooses another profession instead, becoming a pilot. As a pilot, he claims that he has spent a great deal of time among... (full context)
Chapter 2
Relationships Theme Icon
Exploration vs. Narrowmindedness Theme Icon
The pilot lives his life alone, until one day, he crashes in the Sahara desert, a thousand... (full context)
The True and the Essential Theme Icon
Childhood vs. Adulthood Theme Icon
The pilot attempts to ask what the little prince is doing there, but the little prince insists... (full context)
Chapter 3
Exploration vs. Narrowmindedness Theme Icon
When the little prince sees the pilot's airplane, he asks what that object is. The pilot replies that it isn't an object—it... (full context)
Exploration vs. Narrowmindedness Theme Icon
Childhood vs. Adulthood Theme Icon
Innocence Theme Icon
The little prince instead mentions that it is good that the pilot drew a box for his sheep—that way, the sheep will have a place to sleep... (full context)
Chapter 4
The True and the Essential Theme Icon
Exploration vs. Narrowmindedness Theme Icon
Childhood vs. Adulthood Theme Icon
In this way, the pilot discovers that the planet the little prince is from is no larger than a house.... (full context)
The True and the Essential Theme Icon
Childhood vs. Adulthood Theme Icon
The pilot explains that he tells us of these details about the asteroid because of the grownups... (full context)
Relationships Theme Icon
The True and the Essential Theme Icon
Childhood vs. Adulthood Theme Icon
The pilot says that for those who truly understand things, figures are of no consequence, and that... (full context)
The True and the Essential Theme Icon
Childhood vs. Adulthood Theme Icon
Innocence Theme Icon
The pilot apologizes for his drawings, which he says are sometimes good and sometimes bad. He says... (full context)
Chapter 5
The True and the Essential Theme Icon
Exploration vs. Narrowmindedness Theme Icon
The little prince asks whether sheep eat baobabs, and the pilot replies that even a whole herd of elephants could not eat a single baobab. The... (full context)
The True and the Essential Theme Icon
The pilot realizes that baobab trees pose a great danger on the little prince's tiny planet. Although... (full context)
The True and the Essential Theme Icon
The pilot discusses his drawing of the baobab trees, which he displays in the book, explaining that... (full context)
Chapter 6
Exploration vs. Narrowmindedness Theme Icon
...prince says that he is very fond of sunsets and suggests that he and the pilot go watch the sunset. The pilot says that they will have to wait for it,... (full context)
Chapter 7
The True and the Essential Theme Icon
...day together, the little prince asks whether sheep eat flowers with thorns as well. The pilot answers that sheep eat anything in their reach, and the little prince, dismayed, asks what... (full context)
Relationships Theme Icon
The True and the Essential Theme Icon
Childhood vs. Adulthood Theme Icon
Innocence Theme Icon
...flowers as weak creatures who naively reassure themselves that their thorns are terrible weapons. The pilot, still busy with the engine, snaps that he is busy with "matters of consequence," which... (full context)
Chapter 8
Relationships Theme Icon
The True and the Essential Theme Icon
Exploration vs. Narrowmindedness Theme Icon
Childhood vs. Adulthood Theme Icon
The little prince confides to the pilot that he did not understand anything then and shouldn't have run away from her. The... (full context)
Chapter 16
Childhood vs. Adulthood Theme Icon
The pilot explains that Earth is not just an ordinary planet. It has numerous kings, tipplers, geographers,... (full context)
Chapter 17
The True and the Essential Theme Icon
Childhood vs. Adulthood Theme Icon
The pilot revises his earlier statement, saying that grownups would in fact take up only a small... (full context)
Chapter 24
The True and the Essential Theme Icon
Exploration vs. Narrowmindedness Theme Icon
Back in the Sahara desert, it is now the eighth day, and the pilot and the little prince are both thirsty. The little prince suggests that they search for... (full context)
Relationships Theme Icon
The True and the Essential Theme Icon
Innocence Theme Icon
The little prince falls asleep, and the pilot lifts him up and carries him as he continues walking. The pilot gazes upon the... (full context)
Chapter 25
Relationships Theme Icon
The True and the Essential Theme Icon
Exploration vs. Narrowmindedness Theme Icon
...in the desert looks like a village well, but there is no village nearby. The pilot pulls up a bucket of water, tired but happy about his achievement. He gives the... (full context)
Relationships Theme Icon
Despite the sweetness of the water and the happiness he feels in drinking it, the pilot nevertheless feels a sense of grief. The little prince asks him to draw the muzzle... (full context)
Chapter 26
Relationships Theme Icon
The True and the Essential Theme Icon
When the pilot returns the next evening, he overhears the little prince conversing with the snake. The little... (full context)
Relationships Theme Icon
The True and the Essential Theme Icon
Innocence Theme Icon
The little prince then tells the pilot not to come to the site that night, as it will look a little as... (full context)
Chapter 27
Relationships Theme Icon
The True and the Essential Theme Icon
Six years later, the pilot writes this story. He is reassured by the fact that the little prince's body disappeared... (full context)
Relationships Theme Icon
The True and the Essential Theme Icon
Exploration vs. Narrowmindedness Theme Icon
The pilot draws the landscape of the little prince's site of arrival and departure—two desert hills and... (full context)