The narrator explains that, as a young boy, he once drew a picture of a boa constrictor digesting an elephant in its stomach; however, every adult who saw the picture would mistakenly interpret it as a drawing of a hat. Whenever the narrator would try to correct this confusion, he was ultimately advised to set aside drawing and take up a more practical or mature hobby. The narrator laments the crass materialism of contemporary society and the lack of creative understanding displayed by adults. As noted by the narrator, he could have had a great career as a painter, but this opportunity was crushed by the misunderstanding of the adults.
Now an adult himself, the narrator has become a pilot, and, one day, his plane crashes in the Sahara, far from civilization. Here, the narrator is greeted by a young boy whom he refers to as “the little prince”. Upon encountering the narrator, the little prince asks him to draw a sheep. The narrator first shows him his old picture of the elephant inside the snake, which, to the narrator’s surprise, the prince interprets correctly. After three failed attempts at drawing a sheep, the frustrated narrator simply draws a box, claiming that the box holds a sheep inside. Again, to the narrator’s surprise, the prince exclaims that this is exactly the picture he wanted. The prince has a strange habit of avoiding directly answering any of the narrator’s questions. The prince is described as having golden hair, a scarf, and a lovable laugh.