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. What is Manuela always scheming to do?

2. What was Arthens' son's problem?

3. What did Arthens' son once ask Renee?

4. How does Renee perceive that Arthens speaks to her?

5. For how long has Paloma's mother been taking anti-anxiety medicines?

Short Essay Questions

1. What is one of Renee's favorite movie and why?

2. What does Paloma think of Maître Arthens?

3. What was Renee's marriage like?

4. Who is Manuela and what does she want to do?

5. What does Paloma Josse believe her future will be like and how does she plan to avoid that future?

6. What does Renee remember about Arthens' son?

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

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

9. Where does Renee work; how long has she worked there, and what are her clients like?

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

In Paloma's journal entries, it soon becomes clear that she feels persecuted by her sister and ignored by her mother, both normal teenager complaints. However, these complaints are compounded by Paloma's incredible intelligence and insight into the world. Paloma feels as if no one truly sees her or understands her, the opposite of what she claims is her reason for wanting to commit suicide, leading the reader to better understand that Paloma is a normal child with normal complaints, a child with similar emotional baggage to that which Renee carries around. These two characters clearly have a great deal in common.

1. Do you think Paloma is persecuted by her sister and ignored by her mother? Why or why not? Use examples from the book and your own life to support your reasoning.

2. Discuss the dichotomy of Paloma not wanting to be in a "fishbowl" yet wanting people to see or understand her. Use examples from the book and your own life to support your reasoning.

3. Explain, with examples, why you think Paloma is or is not a fairly normal teenager.

Essay Topic 2

Discuss one of the following:

1. Trace and analyze the theme of growth in "The Elegance of the Hedgehog". Consider the following questions as you write: What characters are most concerned with growth? Why? What are some symbols of growth? Symbols of rigidity? What characters seem rigid?

2. Trace and analyze the theme of being yourself in this book. Which characters struggle with this issue? Why? Which characters seem to hide themselves? Why?

3. Trace and analyze the theme of death in "The Elegance of the Hedgehog". Consider not just the physical deaths which take place but any changes that may be a type of death.

Essay Topic 3

Oftentimes, a book has more of a character-driven plot rather than action driven, and oftentimes the other way. Some books seem to balance the two. Discuss the following:

1. What do you think it means to say that a plot is character driven? Action driven?

2. How do you think a plot differs if it is character driven versus action driven?

3. Which type of plot do you find more interesting? Why?

4. Do you think it is possible to have a plot where action and character development share equal time? Why or why not.

5. What type of plot do you think "The Elegance of the Hedgehog" is? Explain your response.

(see the answer keys)

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