Season 5 of Lost has been light on literature. I haven’t seen any books featured in the episodes, and only one has been clearly referenced: The Little Prince by French writer and aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. I must admit, I miss the heady days of Seasons 2 and 3 with the hatch library and the book club meetings over in New Otherton. I’ll take what I can get, though, and I like what I got.
A children’s book, Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince is a wonderfully created fable about love and friendship, and how once a thing or a person has been loved, it becomes unique in all the world to the one who loved it.
The story begins in the Sahara Desert where the narrator just survived a plane crash (an incident based on a real event in Saint-Exupéry’s life) and is approached by a young prince from the small asteroid B612. The narrator befriends the prince who tells him of his home and his travels.
Asteroid B612 is a small place with 3 volcanoes and a single rose that the prince loves dearly. The rose plays games with him, however, and he decides to leave and see the rest of the universe. His travels take him to other asteroids where he meets various adults who don’t understand or value what is important about life.
Eventually he finds his way to Earth where he meets a fox who teaches him about love and the way love makes the beloved unique in all the world. The fox tells him the great secret:
It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.
The prince meets other roses, but because he does not love them, they are just roses. Eventually, coming to understand how much he loves his rose for its unique and special nature, he desires to return home.
His wish to go home is what has brought him back to the Sahara and in search of a snake who tells him that one bite will take him home. The prince tells the narrator not to be sad, that it must be this way because his body is too heavy to go back to his asteroid and so he must allow the snake to bite him so he can leave it behind and travel home.
The snake bites the prince and the next day, the narrator awakens to find that the prince has gone.
Despite the prince’s apparent death, the narrator takes comfort in knowing that the prince is still out there and that he has returned home to protect his rose.
It’s a beautiful story with lots of interesting ambiguity. I will definitely be checking out more of Saint-Exupéry’s work.
It is also the story of John Locke.
Ever since the end of Season 4, we have known that Locke must die in order to save the island. He probably has to die to return, and while we don’t yet know the exact mechanism for this, I think it’s clear from the title of the episode “The Little Prince,” John Locke will be coming back to life, and that he had to die to return home to the island he has come to love.
In case the reference in the title isn’t enough, the name Canton Rainier on of the side of Ben’s van, which first appears in this episode, can be rearranged to spell reincarnation.
John Locke, the little prince of the island, is coming back to life.
The reincarnation angle gets extra play with this week’s episode title “316.” I suspect it refers to the coordinates to get back to the island, but it is also a reference to John (not John Locke, though) 3:16:
For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
The Little Prince, then, is meant to hint at the reasons for Locke’s death, and while we don’t know the reason for its necessity, I believe it is another clear hint that Locke will be coming back in some form. I believe the island grants everlasting life. Just look at Richard Alpert. The question, then, is to whom is this gift granted. It doesn’t seem to have been granted to Ben Linus. And why does it seem to have been given to Christian Shepard?
All this everlasting life business ties into the theories I proposed last year after reading Adolfo Bioy Casares’ The Invention of Morel, in which I argued that the island projects the dead. This is in fact why Alpert does not age and I suspect Locke will not age anymore once he returns to the island.
There was another interesting reference to The Little Prince in the name of the French crew’s boat: Besixdouze. That’s French for B612, the name of the little prince’s asteroid.
On a lighter note, Annie from The Transplantable Rose sent me a link to this clip some former Austinite friends of hers made when they traveled to Oahu. They visit some of the Lost sets and even reenact a few scenes:
Be sure to check out the rest of my Lost book posts at The Lost Book Club.