Summary: Chapter XXI
. . . One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes. . . . It’s the time that you spent on your rose that makes your rose so important. . . . You become responsible for what you’ve tamed. You’re responsible for your rose. . . .”See Important Quotations Explained
As the little prince cries in the grass, a fox appears. The prince asks the fox to play with him because he is so unhappy. The fox replies that first the prince needs to tame him. The prince does not understand the word tame, and the fox explains that it means “to establish ties.” The fox says that at the moment, he and the prince mean nothing to each other. However, if the little prince tames the fox, they will need each other, and each will become unique and special to the other. The little prince says he thinks he has been tamed by a rose, and he lets slip that he is from another planet. At first, this fact excites the fox, but he loses interest when it turns out that the little prince’s planet has no chickens.
The fox explains that his life never changes. He hunts chickens, and people hunt him. He says that if the prince tames him, he will have footsteps to look forward to rather than run from. The prince’s golden hair will make the fox’s view of the grain fields come alive because the golden wheat will remind him of his friend.
The little prince is apprehensive at first. He says he does not have much time and that he is looking for friends. The fox says that if the prince wants a friend, he will have to tame the fox. The prince asks how such a thing is done, and the fox coquettishly takes him through the ritual. He explains that rites and rituals are important because they allow certain moments to stand out from all the others.
The prince tames the fox, but when the time comes for the prince to go, the fox says he will weep. When the prince explains that it’s the fox’s fault for insisting they become friends, the fox says that he knows and that it has all been worthwhile because he can now appreciate the wheat fields. The fox tells the little prince to visit the rose garden again so he can see why his rose is so special. The fox says he will reveal a secret when the little prince returns to say good-bye.
At the garden, the little prince realizes that, even though his rose is not a unique type of flower, she is unique to him because he has cared for her and loved her. He tells the roses that his rose is like the fox. He has tamed her and cared for her, and now in his eyes she is the only rose. The prince then returns to say good-bye to the fox. The fox tells him a threefold secret: that only the heart can see clearly because the eyes miss what is important; that the time the prince has spent on his rose is what makes his rose so important; and that a person is forever responsible for what he has tamed.
Summary: Chapter XXII
The little prince continues his journey and meets a railway switchman (a worker who changes trains from one track to another). As the trains roar by, the switchman explains that the trains shuttle people from one location to another. The prince asks the switchman if people are moving because they are unhappy, and the switchman explains that people are always unhappy with wherever they are. The prince asks if the people are chasing something, and the switchman replies that the people aren’t chasing anything at all. He adds that only the children press their faces against the train windows and watch the landscape as it rushes by. The prince remarks that “[o]nly the children know what they’re looking for,” and he says that children can make a rag doll so important that when it’s taken from them, they cry. The children, the switchman replies, are the lucky ones.