So,as the little prince described it to me, I have made a drawing of that planet. I do not much like to take the tone of a moralist. But the danger of the baobabs is so little understood, and such considerable risks would be run by anyone who might get lost on an asteroid, that for once I am breaking through my reserve. "Children," I say plainly, "watch out for the baobabs!"

The Little Prince

I don't quite understand the phrase "breaking through my reserve" in this context. Is it a common phrase in daily usage?


"Reserve" in this context means the narrators reluctance to do something. Often this would be a matter of avoiding or being slow to enter into a friendship or closer social relationship - perhaps just because of shyness. But in this case his concern is different. The narrator states "I do not much like to take the tone of a moralist." Here again, the meaning is not quite what we might understand from the same words used in modern speech - his reluctance is not just against instructing people in their moral behaviour, but extends to giving advice in general.

But in the case of the drawing of the little planet, he senses danger to the children, and that forces him to overcome his reluctance - that is what he means by "breaking through my reserve". What is broken is the psychological barrier to this course of action which is to him unnatural.

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  • This is obviously from an English translation of Saint-Exupéry's Le petit prince. In the original the narrator says '...je fais exception à ma réserve' - 'I make an exception to it'. – Kate Bunting Feb 14 at 15:11

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