Note: this post contains spoilers for the book The Little Prince.
So today I finished reading The Little Prince for the very first time. It was an enjoyable read, filled with words of wisdom throughout its pages. Also, like Adventure Time and Spongebob Squarepants – it has something for everyone.
I loved how the writer managed to invoke the feelings of childlike wonder with his choice of words and writing style. The cute illustrations accompanying the text are also a treat to look at. I will never view a drawing of a hat the same way again. However, the end of the book raised some questions for me.
Let me begin by saying that I’m not upset with the book’s ending. I think a sad ending can be an effective way to close out a story. They’re certainly more interesting than clichéd fairy tale happy endings that we’ve read or watched a thousand times. What bothers me is how the author chose to end the story.
At the end of the story, at least what I inferred from the text; the prince decides to commit suicide in order to ‘go home’. While it seems a fitting lesson to teach the reader about loss, it could have been easily done by the prince just saying goodbye and leaving the pilot behind by some other unconventional method (flying off on the back of some bird or building a spaceship would have been more fitting). It wouldn’t have been as impactful as dying but at the very least it wouldn’t be out of character for the little prince and it would carry a similar meaning. After all, the body of the prince disappears, which leaves the ending open to interpretation.
Assuming the little prince died, because death drives home the point of loss very clearly, it seemed like a very ham-fisted and out-of-place way to end his tale.
The little prince is described to be a young, naive and innocent childlike character. During one of his travels, he encounters a snake who tells him that if he wanted to return home, it would aid him (presumably by killing him). From this, it could be said that the prince didn’t know what the snake meant by ‘going home’, and he was possibly tricked into giving up his life.
But this theory is thrown out the window since later in the story, we see the prince discussing with the snake about how long he would have to suffer once he was bitten. Also, if he was tricked by the snake, he could have just asked the pilot to protect him.
Or maybe he was tricked, and the author just threw in a red herring to confuse the readers? I don’t know. But the story also raises other questions:
Why would a young boy think about dying just to go back home? Was he mentally ill? Was it the depression that did him in? How does someone so young even think of suicide?
Why did he wait until the pilot had fixed his plane in order to go home? If his flower needed to be taken care of as soon as possible, why didn’t he go home as soon as possible? Instead, he waited until the day the pilot was ready to leave for him to make his own journey back home. This leads me to think that the pilot had imagined the character – being out in the desert with no water does that to you.
But if the character existed and going home meant dying, did it mean that the prince was an undead character? A zombie? This would explain the character’s endless curiosity since undead aren’t supposed to have memories of their past and have to relearn everything in life. Also, it would explain the prince’s ability to travel to different planets without the use of a space suit – the undead don’t need to breathe air, right?
Dying would mean the prince going back to the world of the undead. The afterlife, limbo, purgatory, heaven, hell – or whatever you want to call it. He wasn’t really from some asteroid, and we’ve been bamboozled all along.
I guess that’s the beauty of an open-ended story. It leads to discussion, and random posts like these. Does this make The Little Prince one of the earliest zombie books written? Possibly. Here’s to hoping there’s a sequel that explores that option.