The Elegance of the Hedgehog Test | Mid-Book Test - Hard

Muriel Barbery
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This test consists of 5 short answer questions, 10 short essay questions, and 1 (of 3) essay topics.

Short Answer Questions

1. Why is the movie most significant to Renee?

2. What follows on the heels of the statement that Paloma thinks is totally wrong?

3. What is Renee Michel's challenge?

4. What does Paloma begin to drink in the morning?

5. What is one of Renee's favorite movies?

Short Essay Questions

1. What note does Renee receive and what astounds her about the note?

2. What does Renee say when the son of a tenant in the building says something to Renee about Marx?

3. What does Paloma notice about one of the rugby players?

4. What does Paloma think is important to her mother and what does she say about her mother?

5. What has Renee decided about phenomenology and how does she use Kant to come to this conclusion?

6. What causes Renee to reflect on the meaning of life and what is her conclusion?

7. What filmmaker has Renee recently been introduced to and which film does she like of his and why?

8. Why does Chabrot come to Renee's apartment?

9. About whom do Renee and Manuela gossip when they are having tea?

10. What does Renee remember about Arthens' son?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Many readers of fiction place themselves in the position of one character, wondering if they would do the same thing as that character. Discuss the following:

1. Do you think one of the values of literature is to serve as a reflection of oneself? Why or why not?

2. Socrates said "Know thyself." How can reading a book such as "The Elegance of the Hedgehog" help a reader to know him/herself? Do you find yourself reflecting on your own character and abilities when reading "The Elegance of the Hedgehog"? Why or why not.

3. Choose one specific incident in this book to discuss and compare one of the characters' response to how you think you would respond.

Essay Topic 2

One of the tenants of the building where Renee lives is dying. Renee is surprised by this man's unexpected illness and death, causing her to think about mortality and the meaning of life. Although Renee does not truly like any of her tenants, she admires Arthens because his clear affection for words. Renee also pities Arthens to a small degree because his only son is a drug addict. Paloma also finds herself thinking about mortality and the meaning of life. However, where Renee comes to the conclusion that art makes life worth living, Paloma finds multiple reasons why life is meaningless. Paloma points out numerous inequalities about life and uses them as reasons why she should continue with her plan to commit suicide.

1. Why do you think Arthens illness and dying has caused Renee to think about mortality and the meaning of life? Do you think most people feel this way when they find out someone they know is dying? Why or why not? Use examples from the book and your own life to support your reasoning.

2. How do you think Arthens having a drug addict for a son is affected by that while he is sick? Do you think having a child who has severe problems might weaken a parent's immune system? Why or why not? Use examples from the book and your own life to support your reasoning.

3. What are reasons Paloma might find many reasons to demonstrate life is meaningless, what are her reasons and explain why you do or do not agree with her reasoning. Use examples from the book and your own life to support your reasoning.

Essay Topic 3

Often, authors will write about "what they know," and sometimes knowing a little about the author makes the books more interesting. Discuss the following:

1. Research and give a brief biographical sketch of Muriel Barbery.

2. What in Barbery's background may have helped her in writing "The Elegance of the Hedgehog"? What may have influenced the way she depicts various characters and scenes?

3. Do you think there is always some of the author's own life in his/her novels? Why or why not? Give examples.

(see the answer keys)

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