The Elegance of the Hedgehog Test | Final 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 book does Kakuro give Renee?

2. What color is the dress Manuela borrows for Renee?

3. What surprises Manuela when she and Renee are talking about Renee's upcoming dinner date?

4. What is Paloma fascinated about concerning the therapist?

5. Why does Paloma prefer her aunt and uncle to her own parents?

Short Essay Questions

1. What does Renee do when a package comes for Columbe?

2. What does Paloma want of Renee when she comes to Renee's door at eight?

3. What does Paloma find interesting about the new tenant as concerns her mother?

4. Why does Paloma prefer her aunt and uncle over her own parents?

5. Why is Manuela happy about the new tenant?

6. What does Paloma feel and think when she hears her school choir singing?

7. Who wakes Renee at seven and what does Renee tell the person?

8. What surprises Renee as she enters Kakuro's apartment and what does that make her consider?

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

10. What does Renee think is wrong with Columbe's thesis and why?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Many novels, and perhaps a majority, of novels ends on a happy note. Discuss the following:

1. Why do you think many (most?) people want what they perceive as a happy or good ending to a novel? Explain your opinion. Do you? Why or why not? Did you feel that the vow Paloma makes at the end of the book is enough to consider it a happy ending in view of Renee's death? Why or why not?

2. What are three reasons to read fiction? Discuss each one in light of "The Elegance of the Hedgehog" and whether or not it fulfills all three, two or one of the reasons you mention. Give examples as to why "The Elegance of the Hedgehog" is or is not successful in fulfilling the reasons you discuss.

3. Do you think reading solely for entertainment is as good a reason to read as any other? Why or why not? Can any work of fiction or non-fiction, no matter how poorly written, enlighten, teach, stimulate thought? Why or why not?

Essay Topic 2

Renee is not terribly impressed with most of the tenants, looking down on them because they are so filled with their own beliefs that they cannot see what is right in front of them. For this reason, Renee feels somewhat superior to the wealthy tenants of the building. Renee also tells the reader how she is mainly uneducated, only learning how to read because a teacher took special interest in the affection starved child she once was. This too is how Renee ended up married to her husband, because he saw past the masks and her ugliness to see the woman underneath. Renee feels that although her husband was not her intellectual equal, he was a good man and they had a good marriage.

1. Discuss reasons why Renee has formed her opinion of the tenants in her building. Use examples from the book and your own life to support your reasoning.

2. Do you think most people do not notice service people around them, such as concierges, store clerks, mail carriers, etc.? Why or why not? How might this affect these people? Use examples from the book and your own life to support your reasoning.

3. What are the ways in which people could interact with others in order to see past the surface characteristics? Use examples from the book and your own life to support your reasoning.

Essay Topic 3

Often, authors will write about "what they know," and sometimes knowing a little about the author makes the books more interesting. Discuss the following:

1. Research and give a brief biographical sketch of Muriel Barbery.

2. What in Barbery's background may have helped her in writing "The Elegance of the Hedgehog"? What may have influenced the way she depicts various characters and scenes?

3. Do you think there is always some of the author's own life in his/her novels? Why or why not? Give examples.

(see the answer keys)

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