The Little Prince; the literary genius written by a recon pilot with an undeniable poetic ability. Antoine de Saint Exupery’s life went deeper than we will ever be able to understand as the plane he was piloting disappeared during a war mission in 1944. The mystery of his life only adds intrigue to the now world famous story of The Little Prince as the premise circles around the encounters of a pilot who becomes stranded in the Sahara Desert when his plane crashes. As readers we are left to wonder whether Saint Ex wrote The Little Prince basing the pilot after his own experiences, or whether he identified more with the young prince without a name. The poetic base of this tale has often been compared to Aesop’s Fables because of the hidden lessons within the story. The Little Prince is the gift that keeps on giving; just as one is sure to have soaked up everything there is to learn from the story, it takes on a new meaning that humbles the heart. I learned this lesson at the baby shower my friends and sisters planned for me last fall.
The first time I read Le Petit Prince was in third grade in French class at the École Française de San Diego. Our teacher, Nadine, gave us each an excerpt from the book to read, memorize and recite. Memorizing was a large part of the education system at French school and although I did not understand it at the time I realize now how beneficial going through the memorization and recital of lessons, poems and books helped me into my professional career. I had never heard of The Little Prince but while reading the book in class a few things really stood out to me; I will never be a boring adult who only cares about numbers and facts; How would I survive in the Sahara Desert with only a little yellow haired boy to talk to; and lastly, I want a pet fox! Through its simplicity the story began to engrave itself into my heart without my even knowing it.
I picked the book up again and again as I got older and each time I would realize the meaning behind another chapter that would give me chills. For those who attended my baby shower and were left confused by my reaction when opening the gift my sister gave me, this was one of those moments where a part of The Little Prince suddenly had meaning for me and it hit me like a ton of bricks - or tears.
The Little Prince is a personal journey, and similar to the mystery behind the life of its author, readers are left to wonder what the story is actually about. This is why is takes on a life of it’s own depending on who is reading it and what they are going through in their lives. I could right a whole book of my own personal analysis of The Little Prince, but that would spoil all the fun. Instead I want to focus on the story of the fox. The little prince is a boy who makes his way through different asteroids looking for answers. When he arrives on plant Earth one of his encounters is with a fox. When he meets this fox, the little prince is struggling because he just ran into a whole garden full of red roses, and up until this point in the story the little prince was under the impression that he had the only rose in the whole universe. The rose on his planet was one that he cared for day after day, and he grew to love his rose so much that he is torn by her inability to express love back through her vanity and selfish personality. The rose is a crucial part of this story as a whole, but in this chapter the fox helps the little prince get past mourning his relationship with his rose and appreciating it instead. The fox plays a double role in this book as both a teacher and a student of the little prince. He explains that although there are many roses in the universe, his rose is unique to him because of the time he put into their relationship. In turn the fox asks the little prince to tame him as he wants to share that same bond with him.
"Who are you?" asked the little prince, and added, "You are very pretty to look at."
"I am a fox," the fox said.
"Come and play with me," proposed the little prince. "I am so unhappy."
"I cannot play with you," the fox said. "I am not tamed."
"Ah! Please excuse me," said the little prince.
But, after some thought, he added:
"What does that mean--'tame'?"
"You do not live here," said the fox. "What is it that you are looking for?"
"I am looking for men," said the little prince. "What does that mean--'tame'?"
"Men," said the fox. "They have guns, and they hunt. It is very disturbing. They also raise chickens. These are their only interests. Are you looking for chickens?"
"No," said the little prince. "I am looking for friends. What does that mean--'tame'?"
"It is an act too often neglected," said the fox. It means to establish ties."
"'To establish ties'?"
"Just that," said the fox. "To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you, I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world . . .".
The moment I saw the stuffed fox my sister, Ivana, got me as a baby shower gift that part of the story suddenly had meaning for me. She knows how much I love the story, but I don’t think even she realized the impact her gift would have on me. In that moment I realized that my sweet little baby boy was my very own little fox, the one I had longed for as a child. It felt like I established a deeper bond with Jens in that very moment because I understood what it would be like to have this same unique relationship that the little prince had with his rose. Although I have met hundreds of little boys Jens would be unique to me and I would be unique to him in all the world. I experienced a lot of self doubt in the months leading up to my pregnancy as far as my personal ability to be a good mother, yet any fear or doubt went out the window because I realized that that bond was all that mattered. Queue the ton of bricks and shedding of tears in front of everyone at Bird Bakery.
In the remaining months of my pregnancy I spent my time further reflecting on this chapter and was mesmerized on how things in life come full circle. Now with my seven month old little fox in my arms I realize that he is not only my son but also my teacher. Being a mother has forced me to reflect on the deepest parts of my heart and continue to grow as an individual. I now know I can get through a lot more difficult physical challenges than I ever would have imagined and that giving myself space to express myself creatively is more important than ever. I hope that in reading this you will be inspired to read or reread The Little Prince to find whatever depths you are interested in finding, and that you will reflect of those special bonds that you hold with family and friends.