One of the key scenes in Le Petit Prince is where the little fox appears. The fox declines the little prince’s invitation to play saying “you are still 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.” This is what it’s like on a busy commuter train or as you weave your way through a crowded city street. You come close to many people; you might sit right next to them for an hour or so; or you might buy a coffee in the cafe right after they do and sit at a neighbouring table; but you don’t know each other, mean nothing to each other, make no kind of connection.
The fox says “Apprivoise moi”. What does this mean? The direct English translation is “Tame me”, but taming in English suggest some subjugation, some domination, and that’s not what is meant by the fox. Instead he means something like “befriend me”, or “captivate me”, “bind yourself to me” or “make me yours”. It’s a loving expression and it conveys the idea of creating a link or a bond between two people, or between a person and a creature. The fox says that if the little prince does this he will make them unique to each other in the world. He will make them special to each other.
The little prince takes this idea and thinks about a bed of roses he comes across and how all of these roses really mean nothing to him compared to the single rose which he has nurtured carefully in his garden. His rose is uniquely his. He is bound to her. She is special to him.
Later, the little prince saw a garden of roses. “You are not at all like my rose,” he said. “As yet you are nothing. No one has befriended you, and you are no one’s friend. You are like my fox when I first knew him. He was only a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But I have made him my friend, and now he is unique in all the world… He went on. “To be sure, an ordinary passerby would think that my rose looked just like you. But in herself alone she is more important than all the hundreds of you other roses: because it is she that I have watered, because it is she that I have listened to, because she is my rose.”
It’s an interesting concept, isn’t it? How we create loving bonds between ourselves and others, and in so doing, make people (or animals) special to us, make them unique.