The Little Prince

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Themes and Colors
Relationships Theme Icon
The True and the Essential Theme Icon
Exploration vs. Narrowmindedness Theme Icon
Childhood vs. Adulthood Theme Icon
Innocence Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Little Prince, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Innocence Theme Icon

Innocence is a trait that both the pilot and the little prince value. For the pilot, the little prince's innocence makes it important to protect and comfort him. For the little prince, his rose's naïveté similarly makes it important for him to return to his planet to protect her. Innocence itself serves as protection as well—when the little prince encounters the snake, the snake refrains from poisoning the boy because of his innocence.

Grownups are those who have lost their innocence—and as a result, have stopped seeking the truth. They care more about sums and titles than about the traits contained beneath the surface. The state of innocence is therefore valuable because it comes with perceptiveness and an ability to see the important things in life.

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Innocence Quotes in The Little Prince

Below you will find the important quotes in The Little Prince related to the theme of Innocence.
Chapter 7 Quotes

"I don't believe you! Flowers are weak creatures. They are naïve. They reassure themselves as best they can. They believe that their thorns are terrible weapons..."

Related Characters: The Little Prince (speaker)
Page Number: 28
Explanation and Analysis:

As the pilot attempts to fix the motor on his plane, the prince continues to ask him question after question. Just before this passage, in a tone of frustration, the pilot has finally told the prince that since thorns will not stop sheep from eating roses, the roses must have thorns simply out of spite.

The prince is clearly deeply upset by this opinion. Thinking, almost certainly, of his own rose, he attempts to convince himself that flowers are not spiteful but simply weak, needful of someone to protect them. For the prince, it is important to consider such flowers as innocent, for by doing so he can continue to believe in his rose's essential goodness.

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Chapter 15 Quotes

"My flower is ephemeral," the little prince said to himself, "and she has only four thorns to defend herself against the world. And I have left her on my planet, all alone!"

Related Characters: The Little Prince (speaker), The Rose/Flower
Page Number: 66
Explanation and Analysis:

As the geographer asks the prince about the qualities of the prince's planet, he soon brushes off the prince's description of his flower by saying that he does not deal with "ephemeral" things - that is, qualities of a place or landscape that can easily disappear.

For the geographer, a flower can easily wilt or be trampled, making it unimportant relative to the mountains, forests, and seas that he deems significant enough to study. But for the prince, of course, that very fragility is frightening, since he thinks of the rose not as a key to his own map but rather as an innocent being that needs his help and care, as something that he loves. When the geographer describes the rose as ephemeral it is an insult, a dismissal. But for the prince, the rose's very ephemerality, the fact that it can be lost or destroyed, is part of what binds him to it and makes him love and want to care for it.

Chapter 22 Quotes

"Only the children know what they are looking for," said the little prince. "They waste their time over a rag doll and it becomes very important to them; and if anybody takes it away from them, they cry..."

"They are lucky," the switchman said.

Related Characters: The Little Prince (speaker), The Railway Switchman (speaker)
Page Number: 89
Explanation and Analysis:

The little prince is speaking with a railway switchman, who tells him that the adults on the train journeys are usually bored and restless, their reasons for travel seeming pointless, while the children are fascinated by what is outside their windows. The prince mulls over this difference. For him, it is yet another example of what grown-ups are missing: as they focus on the destination, even if that destination is of questionable importance, they miss the beauty of what lies between two points, and they miss out on the opportunity to be struck with admiration or awe.

Still, the prince doesn't make a contrast between goal-driven adults and aimless children: instead, he argues that children are more likely to know what they are looking for, because they focus on what is important rather than growing obsessed with irrelevant, even random goals. The switchman seems to acknowledge that adults have lost something wonderful, even as he hears the story of children crying when a rag doll is taken away from them: he seems to imply that choosing to cherish something freely and lovingly is a gift in itself, even if it may risk being taken away.

Chapter 24 Quotes

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.