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. Who is Ozu?

2. What does Paloma notice about one of the players?

3. Why of Paloma punished?

4. At what age is Renee forced to leave school?

5. How is Paloma's mother is towards everything else besides the one important thing?

Short Essay Questions

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

2. What is Renee's educational background and who fostered her desire to learn?

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

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

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

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

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

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

9. What does Paloma think of Maître Arthens?

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Many novels, and perhaps a majority, of novels ends on a happy note. Discuss the following:

1. Why do you think many (most?) people want what they perceive as a happy or good ending to a novel? Explain your opinion. Do you? Why or why not? Did you feel that the vow Paloma makes at the end of the book is enough to consider it a happy ending in view of Renee's death? Why or why not?

2. What are three reasons to read fiction? Discuss each one in light of "The Elegance of the Hedgehog" and whether or not it fulfills all three, two or one of the reasons you mention. Give examples as to why "The Elegance of the Hedgehog" is or is not successful in fulfilling the reasons you discuss.

3. Do you think reading solely for entertainment is as good a reason to read as any other? Why or why not? Can any work of fiction or non-fiction, no matter how poorly written, enlighten, teach, stimulate thought? Why or why not?

Essay Topic 2

Characters are an integral and important part of almost all novels. Discuss the following:

1. Compare/contrast the characters of Renee and Paloma. How are they similar? How are they different? Is there a flaw in each of their personalities? Be specific and give examples.

2. Compare/contrast the characters of Renee and Kakuro. How do they seem different? Which do you like more? Why? Which one seems more of a well-rounded character?

3. Thoroughly analyze how three of the secondary characters in "The Elegance of the Hedgehog" help drive the plot and what their contribution is to the storyline. Are any of the secondary characters unnecessary? Indispensable? Which of the secondary characters are likable? Which are either unlikable or even despicable? Be specific and give examples.

Essay Topic 3

"The Elegance of the Hedgehog" belongs to the novel genre. Discuss the following:

1. Define the literary term "genre" and give several examples of three other genres in addition to the novel genre.

2. Discuss two reasons why it might be useful to label a text by genre and two reasons it might be disadvantageous to label a text by genre.

3. What do you think is the difference between a novel and a historical novel?

(see the answer keys)

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