Most of the people who have read more than one book know who is Little Prince and what happened to him. But there is one controversy floating around the ending of the book: Did little prince kill himself?
Little Prince Commits Suicide?
Most of those who read the book say that in the end little prince commits suicide. He does it by asking and allowing a deadly snake to bite him. The reason for it is that he wants to go back to his planet and it turns out that his body is just too heavy for such a long road. But was that a suicide or did Little Prince made a simple compromise that allowed him to achieve his goal and get back to his beautiful flower?
To commit suicide means to perform a self-destructive action that has a goal to stop suffering. And Little Prince did suffer on our earth. Far away from home, his volcanos and his beautiful rose. But to commit suicide also means to end life. And to leave the whole existence together with everything that we hold or have ever held dear. Not for a moment does Little Prince thinks of leaving what he loves. He rather tries to get back to it. Another important thing is that people who plan to commit suicide aren’t so eager to communicate with others, let alone engage in any kind of deeper relationship. That could not be said for the Little Prince. He was very eager to travel and meet new people. And when fox approached him, he agreed to tame her right away. And taming requires effort. Anyone who thinks of suicide does not plan for the future. And the Little Prince was very worried if his sheep could eat his rose like it was going to do with baobabs. These kinds of worries are not the feature of a suicidal man.
Due to all these facts can his act really be considered suicide?
The question can be answered with both yes and no. It depends on the angle you approach to answer it. Another way to answer this question is to analyze the circumstances regarding the writer’s death.
Death Of Antoine de Saint-Exupery
There are multiple theories about how did Antoine die. What is known to all is that on July 31, 1944, he went for his last reconnaissance mission and never came back. He was supposed to collect intelligence on the Nazi troops around Rhone valley and help the following invasion of Southern France. However, he did not return.
There are three assumptions about the writer’s death:
- His plane was shot.
- He accidentally crashed.
- He intentionally wrecked the plane into the sea.
His Plane Was Shot
It was World War II and reconnaissance pilots were at high risk of being shot down all the time. Therefore, it is very likely that Antoine was killed by the Nazis.
Before flying P38 Lightning Antoine was used to much more sophisticated aircraft. He needed to go through a stringent seven-week training before he got permission to fly. And he crashed on his second mission which earned him an eight-month ban. This was his eighth mission. He was in terrible mental and physical shape. Charles de Gaulle, general and the future president of France slandered his name by claiming the writer was collaborating with Nazis. It affected Antoine’s depression ensuing from his bad health caused by his previous multiple plane crashes. Antoine started drinking heavily. And he was in so bad condition that he couldn’t even dress his pilot jacket by himself or turn his head to the left.
In addition to his bad condition, he was always known as a careless flyer. He often used to read and write while flying and would also refuse to land until he would finish reading a novel he started or elaborating on his philosophical thoughts. His cockpit was often full of crumbled little pieces of paper. When you combine all these factors it is very possible that he lost control over his plane and crashed into the sea.
And for the last, the most controversial theory is the one that assumes Antoine took his own life. This theory is closely related to the ending of the little prince who went back to his world suddenly while his body magically disappeared. The question of the suicide of Little Prince is reflected in the life of his author. We have already mentioned that Antoine struggled with depression. The whole book is very sad and full of parts that pull tears from the eyes of even the most stone-hearted readers. And the novel even came to exist because Antoine was in terrible psychological condition.
In the spring of 1942 French writer of one of his American publishers persuaded him to write the Little Prince thinking it will calm him down after his visit to Quebec failed with putting him back together. The book is an excellent reflection of the writer’s psychological state and possibly intentions he had. Suicide lurks around every depression. Therefore, the choice of the Little Prince to allow the snake to bit him so he could depart from his body and travel back to where he came from could be the expression of intentions the writer had on his mind for quite some time. Shooting on the snake is another very interesting matter. When he heard the little prince speaking and saw the viper, the crashed pilot pulled his gun instantly and shoot. But he missed. Such an outcome can reflect the writer’s perception of his life as a failure. It can also reflect his perception of himself as incapable to protect what is most dear to him. And therefore, the death of the little prince could finally mean that the writer holds himself powerless against the depression which is going to take him as well.
But the boy’s death could also mean the exact opposite. If we observe the little prince as a child within the pilot who crashed in the desert then his going home meant getting things back to normal. Accepting the world as it is and realizing that child within us should be a sweet memory of the past.
There is no right or wrong way to interpret the ending. Most people consider it to be suicide. But there are fractions of readers that like to perceive it in a different manner. We will end this brief overview by suggesting some very interesting facts about the little prince.
There are seven planets. According to the bible, seven is the perfect number. There are also seven chakras. The last, 7th planet the little prince arrives on is earth. This could be an implicit writer’s optimism showing that earth is the place where perfection could be found. And little prince does discover the most valuable thing – that his rose is the only one in the whole universe although there are millions of other roses inhabiting the earth. He comes to understand what does it mean to tame and be tamed and develop a deep relationship no wealth can buy. We can only hope that box, sheep, and the muzzle wasn’t too hard to carry on his home planet where our beautiful boy is sitting and watching sunsets.