Appearance versus reality

The symbolic drawings

The contrast between outwardness and inwardness plays an important role in the novella The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and forms a central motif of the work, which is repeatedly addressed in the course of the narrative. The two pictures of the boas as well as the drawings of the sheep that the pilot makes for the little prince have a symbolic meaning in this sense.

Already in the introductory chapter, the contrast between external and internal and, implicitly, between appearances and reality, is made clear with the help of the first drawing: the pilot recalls a situation in his childhood when, at the age of 6, he sketched a boa eating an elephant. But the adults think this drawing is just a hat. They only pay attention to the outside and conclude nothing is wrong from what they see, because they cannot see behind the façade.

At their first meeting, the little prince asks the pilot to draw him a sheep. After the pilot has made several attempts, with which the little prince is not satisfied, he sketches a box and claims: "The sheep you asked for is inside" (7%).

To be able to see the sheep in the box, one needs imagination. The little prince can see the sheep in the crate with the help of his imagination. The pilot admits that he has lost this ability: "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." (12%). In the pilot’s opinion, anyone who no longer possesses the ability to imagine has grown old and lost the gift of imagination.

The Turkish astronomer

In the fourth chapter, the narrator tells the story of a Turkish astronomer who has discovered the little prince's asteroid. Because of his Oriental costume, however, no one wants to believe him when he gives his first lecture about his discovery. Only when he gives his lecture again eleven years later in an elegant suit, suddenly everyone believes him.

The astronomer was forced by a Turkish dictator to wear European clothes under threa...

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