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. For whom does Manuela work?

2. Why does Paloma decide not to use a Japanese tradition on her next birthday to obtain her aims?

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

4. What has Renee decided is a fraud?

5. Why does Renee hide her intelligence from others?

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 does Paloma notice about one of the rugby players?

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

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

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

6. What note does Renee receive and what astounds her about the note?

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

8. Describe Renee Michel.

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

10. Describe Paloma.

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

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 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

One of the tenants of the building where Renee lives is dying. Renee is surprised by this man's unexpected illness and death, causing her to think about mortality and the meaning of life. Although Renee does not truly like any of her tenants, she admires Arthens because his clear affection for words. Renee also pities Arthens to a small degree because his only son is a drug addict. Paloma also finds herself thinking about mortality and the meaning of life. However, where Renee comes to the conclusion that art makes life worth living, Paloma finds multiple reasons why life is meaningless. Paloma points out numerous inequalities about life and uses them as reasons why she should continue with her plan to commit suicide.

1. Why do you think Arthens illness and dying has caused Renee to think about mortality and the meaning of life? Do you think most people feel this way when they find out someone they know is dying? Why or why not? Use examples from the book and your own life to support your reasoning.

2. How do you think Arthens having a drug addict for a son is affected by that while he is sick? Do you think having a child who has severe problems might weaken a parent's immune system? Why or why not? Use examples from the book and your own life to support your reasoning.

3. What are reasons Paloma might find many reasons to demonstrate life is meaningless, what are her reasons and explain why you do or do not agree with her reasoning. Use examples from the book and your own life to support your reasoning.

(see the answer keys)

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