Here is our analysis of The Little Prince, the story for children which makes everybody cry and has sold at 175 million copies around the world.
The Little Prince – Story analysis – Chapter XIII – The planet of the businessman
“The fourth planet belonged to a businessman.” He barely notices the arrival of the little prince, and keeps on couting an impressive amount of numbers, finally reaching a sum of more than 500 millions.
Pattern repetition of the numbers that adults love.
Structure: double exposition of two simultaneous interlaced plots. In the first one, the little prince, Hero, continues to explore the universe. In the second one, the goal of the businessman in position of Hero consists in counting relentlessly.
The little prince asks about what the businessman is busy counting, but the man is so busy he can not even answer. “I am concerned with matters of consequence”, he says. But: “Five-hundred-and-one million what? repeated the little prince, who never in his life had let go of a question once he had asked it”.
Structure: catalyst. The actantial schema of the second plot gets filled, with the little prince taking the position of Antagonist, stopping the Hero from counting.
Pattern repetition: second apparition of the sentence “I am concerned with matters of consequence”, which repeats this concept previously attributed to the airman in chapter VII when he was busy fixing his engine, and against which the little prince had gotten angry. This formulation which already repeated the negative judgement expressed by the airman against “sensible people”, who could only see a hat in the picture of the boa-elephant, will be repeated again several times by the businessman…
Third pattern repetition of this obstinate curiosity of the little prince.
Instead of answering, the businessman counts the number of times when his counting was disturbed ; then he starts counting again.
Structure: we enter Act II, which advances both simultaneous plots.
The little prince asks his question again: “Five-hundred-and-one million what?” His determination weakening, the businessman evokes “little objects which one sometimes sees in the sky”. Dissatisfied, the prince wants to know more, and after unsuccessful tries, he discovers it means “the stars”. The little prince wants to know what the businessman makes out of them, he replies he owns them, it makes him rich, it allows him to buy more stars, – another form of circular logic that the little prince compares to the one of the tippler.
Double internal intertextuality, on the theme of the stars and on the absurd psychological logics of the characters met by the prince.
Facing the little prince who wonders whether one can really own stars, the businessman argues that what belongs to nobody belongs to the first person who wants to own it, thus the stars belong to him. What does he do with his stars? He manages them, counts them – because he is a serious man. The prince dislikes the will to own things, but the businessman goes all the way and pretends he can put his stars on his bank account, which the prince finds much more poetic than serious.
Structure: the Act II stops here, a bit brutally.
The prince finally expresses his own idea of possession, evoking the things he manages: his flower and his volcanoes. His conception of possession rests on the utility of the care he gives to his flower and volcanoes, and he retorts that the businessman is of no use for his stars, not like himself is useful to his flower and volcanoes. This critic stuns the businessman.
Structure: crisis (the little prince expresses his conception of possession which frontally contradicts the businessman’s) and climax (for the first time the businessman has nothing to retort: defeated).
The little prince leaves, complaining again about how odd grown-ups are.
Systematic pattern repetition of this conclusion at each new encounter.
Remark: as we already observed, Saint-Exupéry is not afraid to denounce radically the commercial logics of the capitalist world – which was his world and remains ours.
It is thus with a cruel irony that we how the copyright owners – especially his family and publishers – contradict and betrayed the position statement of the author in favor of a non-commercial way of life, and falsified its message to sell reproduction rights to serve causes the book was not about, to companies run by those men, mad with power and money, who made the little prince so morally disgusted.
If Saint-Exupery did not tragically die crashing his aircraft close to Marseille in july 1944, without leaving any last wills, before he could attend the worldwide success of his book, we can imagine he would have allocated some of its income to some of the people who need it more: children, for example.
A bigger treator to the author, French state, which declared Saint-Exupery “died for France”, made a special law to add 20 more years of copyright protection, which according to french law are normally equal to 70 years after the author’s death, after which it “falls into the public domain”.
If France really would have understood The little prince, instead of helping owners to make more money, France should have given the book to its readers, children and adults, educators and teachers, much earlier, behaving like the little prince and like Saint-Exupéry, not like the King and the Businessman.
We would have liked to make you all enjoy a full line-by-line analysis. But legally it would be a “copyright infringement”, it seems our pleasure to read and learn would compete too much with the owners interest. Such a full-text analysis will not be possible until… 2035 (yeah, adult bureaucrats love setting dates in the far future!)
Read our full analysis of The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery and improve your writing skills