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 astounds Renee by a note she receives about some dry cleaning?

2. What does Renee remember about Arthens' son?

3. Who does Renee use to further her arguments against the subject she just finished studying?

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

5. To what does Paloma want to set fire?

Short Essay Questions

1. With whom does Paloma have tea and how does she respond to the event?

2. What does Paul Nguyen tell Renee when he comes to her door and what is Renee's response?

3. What does Paloma believe about life and why?

4. How does Renee give herself away as far as her intelligence to the new tenant?

5. What image does Renee have of concierges, and why was it easier for her to keep up her charade of the unintelligent concierge when her husband was alive?

6. What way did Paloma consider suicide and what why does she finally settle upon in her mind?

7. Why does Paloma prefer her aunt and uncle over her own parents?

8. What does Renee remember about Arthens' son?

9. What does Paloma hear at a dinner party and what does it make her think?

10. Who wakes Renee at seven and what does Renee tell the person?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

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.

1. Discuss, in depth, the reasons Renee might think being poor excludes intelligence. Use examples from the book and your own life to support your reasoning.

2. Pretending that Renee is your friend, write a letter to her explaining to her what you see are the problems with the way she hides herself. Use examples from the book and your own life to support your reasoning.

3. Discuss possible reasons that often poor people are seen as less intelligent than others. Include in your discussions factors such as low birth weight, poor diet, lack of access to quality education and social and environmental reasons. Use examples from the book and your own life to support your reasoning.

Essay Topic 2

Discuss the following:

1. What do you think are the characteristics of a successful novel?

2. Analyze and discuss "The Elegance of the Hedgehog" based upon the criteria you decide upon in #1 and judge if it is a successful novel.

3. Do you think the criteria for a successful novel should be different if it is written for adults versus young adults? Why or why not? Would most adults consider "The Elegance of the Hedgehog" a successful novel? What about young teens?

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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