Dr. Val Farmer
Rural Mental Health & Family Relationships

Secret From "The Little Prince": Friendships Take Time

July 17, 2004

The Little Prince was a charming little fellow three feet tall with long golden curls. He was from a small asteroid, B-612, where he took care of a demanding, exciting, petulant rose adorned with beauty. The rose was vain and considered herself unique in all the world. The Little Prince grew frustrated by her care and decided to leave his asteroid in search of adventure.

On the planet Earth, he encounters a flower bed of thousands of roses. He was quite disillusioned with his rose who had led him to believe that she was one of a kind in all the universe. He was sad and crying about this when he met a fox. He said to the fox, "Come and play with me. I am so unhappy."

"I cannot play with you. I am not tamed," replied the fox.

"What does that mean - tamed?"

"It is an act too often neglected," said the fox. "It means to establish ties. To me, you are nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me.

"To you, I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world."

"I am beginning to understand," said the Little Prince. "There is a flower. I think she has tamed me."

"My life is very monotonous," the fox said. "I hunt chickens, men hunt me. All the chickens are just alike and all men are just alike. And in consequence, I am a little bored. But if you tame me, it will be as if the sun came to shine on my life. I shall know the sound of a step that will be different from all the others. Other steps send me hurrying back underneath the ground. Yours will call me, like music, out of my burrow.

"And then look: you see those wheat fields down yonder? I do not eat bread. Wheat is no use to me. The wheat fields have nothing to say to me. And that is sad. But you have hair that is the color of gold. Think how wonderful that will be when you have tamed me! The grain which is also golden, will bring me back to the thought of you. And I shall love to listen to the wind in the wheat ¼ . Please tame me."

"I want to very much," the Little Prince replied, "but I haven't much time. I have friends to discover, and a great many things to understand."

"One understands only the things that one tames. Men have no time to understand anything. They buy things already made up at the shops. But there is no shop anywhere where one can buy friendship. And so men have no friends anymore. If you want a friend tame me ¼"

And so the Little Prince tames the fox. And when the hour of his departure drew near:

"Ah," said the fox, "I shall cry."

"It's your own fault, I never wished you any harm. But you wanted me to tame you."

"Yes, that is so."

"But now you are going to cry," said the Little Prince. "Then it has done you no good at all."

"It has done me good. Because of the color of the wheat fields. Go and look at the roses. You will understand how yours is unique in all the world. Then come back and I will make you a present of a secret."

The Little Prince went away to look at the roses. "You are not at all like my rose. As yet you are nothing. No one has tamed you and you have tamed no one. You are like my fox when I first knew him. He was only a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. Now I have made him my friend and he is unique in all the world.

"You are beautiful, but you are empty. One could not die for you. To be sure any ordinary passerby would think my rose looked just like you - the rose that belongs to me. But in herself alone she is more important than all the hundreds of you other roses; because it is she I have watered; because it is she I have put under the glass globe; ¼ because it is she I have listened to when she grumbled or boasted or even sometimes when she said nothing. Because she is my rose."

The Little Prince and the fox meet to say their farewells.

"Goodbye. Now here is my secret. A very simple secret ¼ It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important ¼ Men have forgotten this truth," said the fox. "But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed. You are responsible for your rose."

"I am responsible for my rose," the little prince repeated so that he would be sure to remember."

Quotes used by permission of the publisher, Harcourt, Brace and Company.