The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Art as Soul Finder in The Elegance of the Hedgehog 11th Grade

In Muriel Barbery's The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Paloma grows up in a highly chaotic and disconnected world and feels pain and disoriented. She needs another world to support and protect her. Day after day, Paloma “pace[s] up and down [her] life the way [she] pace[s] up and down a passageway” because she cannot find meaning for her life—her body is a drag to her. But when she opens her heart to the small but pure beauty striking her constantly, she starts to be able to hear the calling from her soul. During her journey of finding the beauty, Art opens the door of another world in which she finds her soul, and therefore her reason to live meaningfully. Art guides Paloma to seek her soul, her innermost self.

Feeling isolated, Paloma is torn between the outer world where she lives and her own inner world. "Hypersensitive to anything that is dissonant," Paloma feels "she has to disappear" from this "family contradiction" (Barbery 258). However, deep inside her heart, Paloma "[does] [not] really feel like dying" and still believes art "is beautiful enough to give life meaning" (Barbery 292). She thinks that she has been living in an arid world in which nothing can nourish her...

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