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 Pierre Arthens?

2. What is one result for Renee of Arthens' pending death?

3. Who does Manuela see on the steps?

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

5. What breed is Athena?

Short Essay Questions

1. What does Paloma think of Maître Arthens?

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

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

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

5. Describe Olympe.

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

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

8. What fight does Paloma describe between her mother and another woman?

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

10. Why does Jean Arthens visit Renee?

Essay Topics

Essay Topic 1

There are a number of interesting questions raised by "The Elegance of the Hedgehog". Questions that Barbery most likely want readers to consider and think through carefully. Discuss the following:

1. What does the term "author agenda" mean?

2. Name one idea/concept you think may have been a part of the Barbery's agenda. Analyze that idea throughout the book and discuss Barbery's probable agenda concerning that idea.

2. Do you think writers who have an agenda for writing should point it out in a preface?

3. How often do you think fiction is written with a clear agenda in mind by the author?

4. Research the life of Barbery and see if/where his life may have influenced his writing.

Essay Topic 2

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 3

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.

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