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. To whom does Athena belong?

2. What does Paloma think is the only thing important to her mother?

3. How does Renee think of Manuela?

4. What does Paloma feel about her true person?

5. What does Paloma decide to do before she dies?

Short Essay Questions

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

2. What filmmaker has Renee recently been introduced to and which film does she like of his and why?

3. What image does Renee have of concierges, and why was it easier for her to keep up her charade of the unintelligent concierge when her husband was alive?

4. Describe Olympe.

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

6. When and why does Renee's formal education end?

7. Describe Paloma.

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

9. What does Renee remember about Arthens' son?

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

"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?

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

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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