The narrator of The Little Prince is an adult in years, but he explains that he was rejuvenated six years earlier after he crashed his plane in the desert. He was an imaginative child whose first drawing was a cryptic interpretation of a boa constrictor that had swallowed an elephant. Eventually, he abandoned art for the grown-up profession of pilot, and he lives a lonely life until he encounters the little prince. He serves as the prince’s confidant and relays the prince’s story to us, but the narrator also undergoes transformations of his own. After listening to the prince’s story about the knowledge the prince has learned from the fox, the narrator himself learns the fox’s lessons about what makes things important when he searches for water in the desert. The narrator’s search for the well indicates that lessons must be learned through personal exploration and not only from books or others’ teachings.
Both the narrator and the prince are protagonists of the story, but they differ in significant ways. Whereas the prince is mystical and supernatural, the pilot is a human being who grows and develops over time. When the narrator first encounters the prince, he cannot grasp the subtle truths that the prince presents to him, whereas the prince is able to comprehend instantly the lessons his explorations teach him. This shortcoming on the narrator’s part makes him a character we can relate to as human beings more easily than we can relate to the otherworldly, extraordinarily perceptive little prince.