The Little Prince


Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

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The Little Prince: Chapter 13 Summary & Analysis

The fourth planet contains a businessman who hardly notices the little prince's arrival. The little prince finds the man adding sums and inquires as to what the businessman is counting. After the little prince repeats his question several times, the businessman realizes that he will not be left alone unless he answers—and he explains that he's counting the objects in the sky "that set lazy men to idle dreaming."
The fourth grownup showcases the adult tendency to be preoccupied with figures. He ignores the little prince's questioning at first because he is busy counting. The businessman's contempt for "idle dreaming" points out his inability or unwillingness (or both) to engage with the world and others.
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The little prince understands that the businessman is counting the stars and asks what one does with five hundred millions of stars. The businessman replies that he does nothing with them—he simply owns them. If he owns the stars, he says, he will become rich, and will therefore be able to buy more stars, if they are ever discovered. The little prince asks how he can own the stars if he cannot take them with him, and the businessman says that he can put them in his bank, and that is enough. The little prince then mentions that he owns three volcanoes and a flower on his own planet, and that he is of use to them, but that the businessman is of no use to the stars. He continues on his journey, leaving the businessman speechless.
The businessman's adult greed is juxtaposed with the little prince's desire to be of use to the things he owns. To the little prince, it is his relationship with the volcanoes and the flower that matters more than what he can gain from owning them. After all, as the businessman describes it, owning things he has no real connection to only allows him to own more things he has no connection to, with the result that what he really owns is nothing.
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