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. With what country is Paloma fascinated?

2. What does Pierre ask of Renee?

3. For whom does Manuela work?

4. What does Paloma realize about words?

5. What is one way Renee plays to her clients' prejudice?

Short Essay Questions

1. What do the Renee's clients believe about concierges and how does Renee try to project their image of the average concierge?

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

3. How does the young man who mentions Marx react to Renee's suggestion, and what is Renee's response?

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

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

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

7. What does Paloma decide to do after observing an interesting rugby player?

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

9. What was Renee's marriage like?

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

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

Discuss one of the following:

1. Thoroughly analyze how the setting informs the plot in "The Elegance of the Hedgehog".

2. Trace and analyze one major theme of this book. How is the theme represented by symbolism? By the characters' behaviors? By the action?

3. Trace and analyze two secondary themes of "The Elegance of the Hedgehog". How are the themes represented by symbolism? By the characters' behaviors? By the action?

Essay Topic 3

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.

(see the answer keys)

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