Whether fleeting as the express trains that

Whether you think The Little Prince is for adults, children, or both, it is hard to deny the preval!ent themes of death, evil, and despair that are a central force in the story.

Rarely is any character truly happy. Even the corrupted adults, like the king, are pathetic creatures, exceedingly lonely. Indeed, Saint-Exupery emphasizes that loneliness occurs even around other people, not just by oneself. For example, the little prince never meets two people at the same time–everyone is always on their own. Human contact becomes as fleeting as the express trains that buzz by the little prince with no warning at all.

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When he finally does befriend someone, he can never stay long. Some characters, like the fox, are so desperate for companionship that they will "tame" themselves in order to get someone to stay with them. This oppressive force of isolation allows children to succeed where adults fail. Adults are responsible for all the evil in the world, whether it is trying to own the stars, getting drunk, executing rats, or letting baobabs grow. Their inability to see with their hearts and imagination, rather than rely on facts and figures, condemns adults to loneliness.

In effect, the little prince only begins to feel lonely when he ventures out into the adult world, while his ultimate suicide is a loss of innocence made possible by the adult fear of snakes. To the contrary, children are liberated by their imagination and understanding of the emotions and intangible qualities that are truly "matters of consequence." Moreover, Saint-Exupery's subtle hints to Nazism in the form of the baobabs also evoke the negative connotations of World War II. The laziness of adults allowed the bad seeds to grow in the first place, and the author challenges his readers to take responsibility for their actions as well as the rest of society. Unlike a lazy man who allowed baobabs to destroy his planet, the little prince carefully weeds out the dangerous plants before they grow too large.

This theme of accountability recalls Voltaire's message in Candide that we should all cultivate our own garden, establishing the story as both fantasy and parable..

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