How are Renee & Paloma similiar? I had a teacher ask me this today & I'm still not sure how to respond. I'm only on page 51.

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lynnebh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is an older question, but I see no one has answered it. I am presuming that you are beyond page 51 by now and have already answered your own question. But, if not, I will answer it.

Renee and Paloma are kindred spirits. They are both highly intelligent. They are both hiding something. Paloma is hiding how intelligent she really is by acting dumb around her school chums, although her friends and her family realize her intelligence. She is hiding her unhappiness and the fact that she intends to kill herself from her family. Renee is hiding her intelligence from everyone, except her husband, who has died by the time the novel begins.

Both  enjoy art, music and literature but Renee is hiding this because, as a "lowly" concierge, this is not expected of her. Both  try to shut out the world because it is too painful to them. Both are introspective and are constantly analyzing everything - people, places, history, the meaning of life, the meaning of art, society, ideals, morals. Both are hiding to protect themselves, but for different reasons (I don't want to ruin the story for you).

Toward the end of the novel, Renee says that if she had had a child, it would have been Paloma.

"I did not have any children, because it did not happen that way. Did I suffer because of it? No. But if I had had a daughter, it is you she would have been."

Paloma, for her part, is more at home in Renee's "loge" than in her own apartment. When they find each other out, they become good friends.

Read the study guide:
The Elegance of the Hedgehog

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