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. Where is Manuela from?

2. Why does Renee hide her intelligence from others?

3. What can Renee hear just after Chabrot comes to tell Renee that Arthens has died?

4. Who is gossiping about Madame de Broglie?

5. What is one modern writer Renee enjoys reading?

Short Essay Questions

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

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

3. What does Paloma believe about life and why?

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

5. Describe Renee Michel.

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

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

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

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

10. What is one of Renee's favorite movie and why?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Characters are an important part of what makes "The Elegance of the Hedgehog" interesting. Discuss the following:

1. Thoroughly discuss and analyze Renee. What are her strengths? Her weaknesses? How does she contribute to the plot? Is she a sympathetic character? Is she ever likable? Never likable? Use specific examples to illustrate your ideas.

2. Thoroughly discuss and analyze Paloma. What are her strengths? Her weaknesses? How does she contribute to the plot? Is she a sympathetic character? Is she ever likable? Never likable? Use specific examples to illustrate your ideas.

3. Thoroughly discuss and analyze the character of Kakuro. What are his strengths? His weaknesses? How does he contribute to the plot? Is he a sympathetic character? Is he ever likable? Never likable? Use specific examples to illustrate your ideas.

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

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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