Last year, Netflix debuted an animated film of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s 1943 novel Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince), featuring an all-star cast including Marion Cotillard, James Franco, Ricky Gervais, Rachel McAdams, and Benicio del Toro. More than seventy years after its publication, the words of The Little Prince still ring true. In fact, I find it highly relatable to many of the whims and wishes of Millennial women such as myself. Longing for meaningful relationships, constantly battling wanderlust, and sometimes struggling to define ourselves amid a world of influences, this classic tale has a surprising amount of modern applicability.
01. Meeting New People
We come to find out that the Little Prince left his home planet, Asteroid B-612, and is traveling to different planets across the universe. Emotionally exhausted, the Little Prince decided to explore the universe and met several types of adults on the planets he visited including the Workaholic, Alcoholic, and Power-Hungry. All of these adults left the Little Prince disheartened and uninterested in growing up, and like the Little Prince, I share his sentiments. Through his encounters with these characters, the Little Prince comes to understand who he wants to be in his own life.
The typical Millennial wanderlust is no secret at this point, but perhaps we aren't such a new breed after all. While abroad in Sicily, meeting my students, colleagues, and other friends in my Sicilian community has taught me more lessons than I can count and my heart is still absorbing the value of these encounters. It’s as true for the modern woman as it was for the Little Prince. Whether it’s a vacation, a road trip, studying abroad, a fellowship, or a job in a foreign country, traveling can give us the chance to observe other ways of life. When we meet different people, we expand our own horizons.
02. Finding Love, Loss, and Love Again
One of the most important parts of this novella is the Little Prince’s relationship with the Rose. In this romance, The Little Prince gives his whole heart to make the Rose happy, but she takes his love for granted. When the disappointed Little Prince decides to leave his planet, the Rose regrets her selfish behavior, but it is too late for the hurt Little Prince.
Along his journey, though, he realizes that the time he devoted to loving the Rose was not wasted and that allowing oneself to love and be loved requires both great risk and bravery. Once the Little Prince comprehends this he no longer views his heartbreak as an enemy but as a testimony to the love he experienced.
In the midst of a relationship, it is tempting to lose sight of our desires and ourselves while thinking of the object of our desire; it is in these moments that, as the story points toward, we need to re-evaluate who we are and what is important to us. This does not necessarily mean the end of a relationship; on the contrary it might bloom all the more beautiful in spite of these challenges. The Little Prince comes to understand he was not ready to fully love the Rose as he admits, “But I was too young to know how to love her.” As we progress in our journeys, these are wise words on the importance of understanding our hearts to truly love another person.
03. Finding Yourself
The Little Prince also shows us that the best voyage is the one we make when we discover ourselves. One of the characters the Little Prince meets during his travels is “The King” who tells the young wanderer, “It is much more difficult to judge yourself rightly, then you are indeed a man of true wisdom.” In the Little Prince’s explorations, he understands what he wants out of life. He realizes that growing up does not have to be a negative experience as long as you remember to hold onto your childlike wonder. Even in his sadness, the Little Prince clings to the parts of life that inspire him and fuel his curiosity, like a beautiful sunset.
If you look carefully, there are special moments in even the smallest of occasions whether it is laughing with a friend over the phone, going to the beach, or even admiring the sunrise as you drive to work. As the Fox shares with the Little Prince, “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
When the Little Prince goes on his adventure to different worlds and planets, he faces both disappointments and moments of clarity that help him learn more about who he is. Just like him, we can’t change who we meet along the journey or the culture we find ourselves in, but, we can allow the experiences to change ourselves. You don’t always get to choose who or what you'll face, but you can choose how it shapes your life. And it is by encountering the unknown that we begin to know ourselves.
Photo Credit: Netflix