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 is one way Renee plays to her clients' prejudice?

3. What does Renee reply to Arthens' son's question?

4. Why does Paloma think is interesting regarding Maître Arthens?

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

Short Essay Questions

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

2. Describe Olympe.

3. What does Renee remember about Arthens' son?

4. What does Paloma think of Maître Arthens?

5. What does Paloma believe about life and why?

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

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

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

9. What was Renee's marriage like?

10. Describe Renee Michel.

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

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 3

Choose one of the following to discuss:

1. Choose two significant symbols and trace and analyze their appearance in "The Elegance of the Hedgehog". Are these universal symbols? Would they be understood in any culture? Are there other symbols that would portray the same idea? What are they? Why do you think Barbery chooses the symbols he does?

2. Choose two important metaphors and trace and analyze their appearance in the novel. Are these universal metaphors? Would they be understood in any culture? Are there other metaphors that would portray the same idea? What are they? Why do you think Barbery chooses the metaphors she does?

3. Discuss Barbery's use (or lack ) of literary device (such as foreshadowing, cliffhangers, deux ex machina, etc.), and how they add or detract from the story. Does Barbery use too many or too little literary techniques? State which of the five major elements of fiction the literary device is related to (style, character, plot, setting, theme.)

(see the answer keys)

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