In the book "The Elegance of the Hedgehog" compare and contrast Renee's and Paloma's basic life philosophies.I'd like to know the effect of each philosophy on each woman.

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lynnebh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Renee and Paloma are both hedgehogs - what you see on the outside is not as fine as what is on the inside. Renee is a blue collar concierge who has the heart, soul and mind of a Renaissance scholar. She has educated herself (she's an autodidact, she says). She does not feel comfortable, however, on that level of society, so she pretends to be a common dolt. As such, she has contempt for the wealthy tenants that live in her apartment building. She appreciates music, art, philosophy, fine food and is constantly trying to define beauty.

Paloma is a "spoiled little rich girl" who also has the heart, soul and mind of a Renaissance scholar. She goes to school, but what she has learned on her own far surpasses what anyone suspects. So, in a way, she is also an autodidact like Renee. Paloma shares Renee's contempt for the wealthy society in which she lives. She believes that life is so boring and frustrating that she plans to kill herself. Like Renee, she also loves art, music and philosophy and is constantly trying to define beauty and truth.

When Renee and Paloma discover each other, they realize they have shared interests, but ironically, I think, what really is uplifiting about their friendship is not art, music and philosophy but the human connectedness each one finds in the other.

Paloma laments Renee's death by saying that her "kindred soul" is lying dead in a refrigerator -- and that it hurts. As she is dying, Renee laments that if she ever had a daughter, it would have been Paloma. Each has affected the other's life in a positive way. Renee also expresses a dying wish to Paloma:

And with all my strength I impore that your life be worthy of all that you promise.

After her death, Paloma decides not to kill herself or burn the apartment building down because:

Don't worry Renee. . . from now on, for you, I'll be searching for those moments of always within never.