The Elegance of the Hedgehog Short Essay - Answer Key

Muriel Barbery
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1. Describe Renee Michel.

Renee Michel is a highly intelligent woman who has had the misfortune of being born poor. Renee has it in her mind that poor people are not supposed to be intelligent, therefore she hides her intelligence from the people around her, going to great lengths to create an appearance that shows lack of intelligence and imagination as well as a general disinterest in the world around her. To the contrary, Renee is quite intelligent, taking great joy from reading literature and philosophy, as well as watching artistic movies and studying great art. Renee is a complex person who hides her intelligence behind a mask to keep the world from intruding on her carefully created world.

2. Describe Paloma.

Paloma is a twelve-year-old girl who is also highly intelligent. Paloma feels as though her life as the daughter of wealthy people places her in a fishbowl where she does not want to be. Paloma too feels as though the world perceives her in a particular way, but that her true person is not the one in which people see. For this reason, Paloma has chosen to end her life on her thirteenth birthday.

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