Chapter abstracts are short descriptions of events that occur in each chapter. They highlight major plot events and detail the important relationships and characteristics of characters and objects. The Chapter Abstracts can be used to review what the students have read, or to prepare the students for what they will read. Hand the abstracts out in class as a study guide, or use them as a "key" for a class discussion. They are relatively brief, but can serve to be an excellent refresher of the text for either a student or teacher.
Chapter 1 Abstract
* The narrator, who is introduced as a scholar, sits in a bar full of sailors and reminisces on his relationship with his good friend who is a soldier.
* The narrator feels sad that he and his soldier friend could not be more vulnerable in expressing their love and recalls the pact they made to warn one another telepathically of foreboding danger.
* The narrator meets a new friend, Alexis Zorba and journeys to Crete to undertake a more adventurous life.
* The narrator hires Zorba to act as the foreman of the narrator's lignite mine.
Chapter 2 Abstract
* While on the boat to Crete, Zorba explains that he cut half of one finger off because it got in the way of his pottery.
* The narrator recognizes Zorba's intense physical passion but also warns that it could lead Zorba to cut off his sexual organs.
* Zorba talks about the many wars and revolutions that Crete has endured and wonders how these brought peace and liberty to the present.
* Many villagers greet the two men on Crete.
* Madame Hortense, a widow, agrees to let the men stay with her, and Zorba begins to romance her.
Chapter 3 Abstract
* The narrator goes for a walk in the Cretan countryside where he meets two women who are momentarily afraid of him; then he contemplates the sea and reads from Dante.
* Zorba prepares a lunch table for three people so that Madame Hortense may be included.
* Mavrandoni, the village elder, offers the two men a place to stay, but they choose to stay with Madame Hortense.
* Madame Hortense discusses her four great loves: admirals from England, France, Italy, and Russia.
* Madame Hortense's pet parrot repeats the name of her Italian and greatest lover, Canavaro; and Zorba offers to act as the man's replacement.
Chapter 4 Abstract
* Zorba initiates his physical romance with Madame Hortense.
* The narrator recalls a scene at a museum with his soldier friend in which the friend credits any great accomplishments he might make to Rembrandt's Warrior painting.
* Zorba is displeased that he and the narrator laughed at Madame Hortense and tells the narrator that he should have told Hortense how beautiful she is.
* The mining operations begin and Zorba takes charge.
* The narrator attempts to get to know the miners and talks to them about Socialist ideas.
* Zorba is angered that the narrator treats the miners as equals and restricts the narrator from coming to the mine.
* The narrator sets goals to rid himself of the Buddha and philosophical pondering, as well as to ground himself in the physical world.
Chapter 5 Abstract
* Anagnosti plans a feast to celebrate the castration of the pigs.
* Anagnosti tells the story of his birth, requires complete reverence to God, and relates the castration to the human condition.
* Zorba is uncomfortable with the ceremony.
* Zorba tells the narrator that he shouldn't tell the villagers that their religion is inaccurate unless he has a better explanation to offer them because religion is the center of who they are.
* The narrator is restless with the knowledge that he can't improve the villagers thinking, so he starts writing the Buddha Manuscript.
Chapter 6 Abstract
* The narrator begins to learn about eating from Zorba.
* Zorba details the three kinds of men in regards to eating: 1) those that turn food into fat and manure 2) those that turn food into work and good humor 3) those that turn food into God.
* Zorba categorizes himself in the second class and suggest the narrator makes attempts at the third.
* Zorba teaches the narrator dance as a language that words cannot convey; the narrator understands but cannot perform the "language" himself.
* Zorba proposes his railway cable plan for the mine.
* The narrator continues writing the Buddha Manuscript.
Chapter 7 Abstract
* Zorba details his view of marriage, says he's been married "honestly" or legally once, "half-honestly" or informally twice, and "dishonestly" (all of his sexual adventures) a thousand times.
* Zorba shares the stories of his two "half-honest" marriages with women named Sophinka and Noussa.
* Zorba says he lived with Sophinka for 3 months in a cottage with her grandmother.
* Zorba says when he met Noussa, he went to a feast at her home where an orgy ensued.
* Zorba says he lived with Noussa for six months until she eloped with a soldier.
Chapter 8 Abstract
* The narrator writes a letter to his soldier friend, explaining how the friend inspired him to seek an active life, describing his new friend Zorba, detailing the narrator's philosophizing, and expressing his love for his friend.
* Zorba and the narrator walk to town in the rain.
* Zorba suggests that the narrator burn his library because the books do not give much regard to nature; the narrator agrees but says he is unable to do so.
* Inside a cafe to escape the rain, Zorba and the narrator spot a beautiful woman, who Manolakus curses and despises and the other men joke about.
* Mimiko enters the cafe and reports that the widow has lost her sheep and offers a reward to whomever can help find it.
* Zorba, the narrator, and Mimiko walk toward the widow's garden, but the narrator is unable to speak to her which disappoints Zorba.
Chapter 9 Abstract
* Zorba strikes a big load of lignite at the mine.
* Zorba asks the narrator to explain God; the narrator cannot answer, so Zorba creates an image of a God exactly like himself but more wild and crazy who forgives easily and immediately.
* Zorba will not forgive the narrator for failing to sleep with the widow.
* The mine collapses, but Zorba warns the men and all escape unharmed.
* Zorba scolds the men for leaving their picks in the collapsing mine, but the narrator calms the atmosphere and calls a lunch break.
Chapter 10 Abstract
* Having a near-death experience increases the narrator's desire for the widow, but he only compares the feelings to Buddha's temptation by the Evil One and works instead on his manuscript.
* Zorba encourages him to visit the widow rather than attend church, but the two men end up going to church and enjoying the celebration.
* Zorba and the narrator have dinner with Madame Hortense; then the narrator leaves the lovers alone and feels very happy.
* With the New Year, Zorba grows happier and the narrator restless with his growing desire for the widow.
* After attending church to make amends, the narrator takes a walk down to the beach where he recalls accidentally killing a butterfly and reflects on the importance of following nature's time line.
Chapter 11 Abstract
* A new year begins.
* The narrator grows more attracted to the widow but is unable to speak to her.
* Zorba and the narrator go to Madame Hortense's house for lunch, and Zorba teases the narrator for not approaching the widow.
* Zorba presents Madame Hortense with a portrait of her as a siren leading the battleships of her four great loves, the admirals.
* Madame Hortense drunkenly recounts her wordly love affairs which annoys Zorba.
* Zorba leaves angrily but concludes that God is to fault for Madame Hortense's promiscuous life.
Chapter 12 Abstract
* The narrator realizes that his once-prized collection of poetry lacks a connection to the physical human and thus lacks value.
* The narrator decides that writing his Buddha Manuscript is an attempt to exorcise the prophet, who is the Void and end of civilization, from his own soul.
* The narrator spends the day fighting the prophet in his writing while Zorba calculates the perfect slope for the timber rail.
* Zorba decides to take a 3-day trip to the nearest town to purchase supplies, which Madame Hortense disapproves of.
* The narrator receives a letter from a fellow teacher, Karayannis, who lives in Africa and reports disdain for his old country, a slightly milder disdain for his new one, and sends an invitation to the narrator to visit.
* The narrator considers traveling to Africa to visit his friend but decides against it.
* The old soldier friend reports that he is steadfastly fighting to for his nation.
Chapter 13 Abstract
* Zorba has been absent for six days when the narrator receives a letter from him.
* Zorba's letter describes a devil living inside of him and also details that he's staying with a young woman and has not purchased any supplies.
* The narrator is ambivalent and writes back instructing Zorba's return.
Chapter 14 Abstract
* Dame Hortense inquires about Zorba's absence; the narrator falsifies Zorba's letter and says that Zorba has proposed marriage to her.
* The village is disrupted when Pavli commits suicide because the widow does not return his love.
* An old woman calls for the widow to be killed, and the narrator defends her.
* Anagnosti claims Pavli is blessed to be spared a life involving women.
* Mimiko thanks the narrator on the widow's behalf with a basket of oranges.
Chapter 15 Abstract
* The narrator goes for a walk and encounters the ruins of a Minoan city.
* The narrator meets a shepherd who asks for a cigarette as a toll.
* The narrator wanders aimlessly by the sea and meets an old man who asks if he is headed to the convent; the narrator says yes.
* The man tells the narrator the story of the convent's martyred Virgin statue which bleeds yearly from a chiseled wound.
Chapter 16 Abstract
* Zorba returns from Candia and is angered that his boss lied to Hortense but is also ready to propose.
* Zorba has spent all of the narrator's money and dyed his hair black while away.
* Zorba says they should get back to work quickly.
* The narrator talks about the power of concentration, and Zorba teases that his boss wants to build a monastery, which in turn makes the narrator sad in its accuracy.
* Zorba and the narrator enjoy a friendly dinner; Hortense arrives, and the narrator leaves them alone.
Chapter 17 Abstract
* Zorba and the narrator climb up to the monastery in order to rent land for the cable railway.
* Zaharia, a monk, meets them and warns them not to go because the monks are corrupt.
* Zaharia has a devil inside of him named Joseph, and Zorba feeds Joseph's evil desires.
* Zaharia tells the story of Our Lady of Revenge, whose legendary statue is said to have killed an invading Algerian army.
* While waiting to do business with the abbot, Zorba notices that all of the monks have unsatisfied desires and shares that he deals with such longings by stuffing himself with the desired thing until he no longer wants it.
* When he notices a homosexual relationship between the monk, Demetrios, and his pupil, Gavrili, Zorba wants to leave the monastery as soon as possible so that his opinions on humanity aren't tainted.
* Zorba indicates that he has a scheme to get the land at a very cheap price.
Chapter 18 Abstract
* The abbot attempts to charge a higher than agreed upon price for the land, but Zorba won't relent in attempt to redeem himself for spending his boss's money in Candia.
* Zorba and the narrator hear a gunshot in the middle of the night which creates a commotion in the monastery.
* A bishop knocks on their door, seeking shelter in their room, which the two men grant.
* The bishop thanks them by sharing his three great theories on religion, which the narrator says have saved many souls.
* Zorba mocks the bishop with counter-theories and is excited that the gunshot drama might improve his bargaining power.
* Zorba learns that the gunshot was Demetrios murdering Gavrili, an incident which prompts Zaharia to commit to burning the monastery to the ground.
* Zorba is granted the good deal he desires in the bargaining and tries to pay the narrator back.
* The narrator refuses, so Zorba gives the money to Zaharia and educates him on arson techniques for accomplishing his holy purpose.
Chapter 19 Abstract
* Madame Hortense pressures Zorba for marriage, but Zorba makes excuses and delays.
* Zorba procrastinates on opening a gift from Hortense; it ends up being a pair of wedding rings.
* Madame Hortense is made very happy when Zorba agrees to a star-lit engagement ceremony.
* Zorba refuses intimacy with Hortense and attributes his actions to Lent.
* In conversing with the narrator, Zorba compares himself to Zeus in his willingness to sacrifice for women.
Chapter 20 Abstract
* The narrator inquires of Zorba whether he's ever been to war, and after some delay, Zorba talks about his battle experience and murders he's committed.
* Zorba says his experience has led him to consider a man's nationality less, but whether he is "good" or "bad" more, and the narrator is jealous of Zorba's wide range of experience.
* The narrator and Zorba have a ceremony to christen work on the railway, and villagers gather to watch.
* Zorba begins work on the railway.
Chapter 21 Abstract
* On Easter Zorb and the narrator prepare a feast to honor Madame Hortense but learn that she is quite ill.
* Zorba checks on his fiancé, returns to enjoy the feast, and then goes to the village to enjoy the holiday festivities.
* Later, the narrator walks toward town, meets the widow, and is finally intimate with her.
* Zorba expresses pride in his boss's success with the widow, and the narrator realizes that he's finished writing his manuscript and can forget about the prophet.
* Zorba works on the railway, and the narrator attempts to comfort the ailing Hortense; he calls for a doctor when he realizes that she is severely ill.
Chapter 22 Abstract
* The narrator joins the Easter festivities after caring for Madame Hortense.
* When the widow enters the church, Manolakas leads a mob to atone for Pavli's death, which the villagers blame the widow for.
* The villagers surround the widow as she leaves the church; they throw stones, and bare knives, and Mavrandoni tells Manolakas to kill her.
* The narrator attempts to come to the widow's aide but trips and fails. Zorba arrives at the scene, fights Manolakas and prevents the murder momentarily, but Mavrandoni cuts off the widow's head.
* Zorba tells the narrator of the death of Zorba's three year-old son, Dimitri, and is terribly upset about the widow's murder, while the narrator philosophizes abstractly.
* Manolakas meets Zorba while walking and challenges him to a knife fight, but Zorba says he'll fight without weapons. The narrator breaks up the fight.
Chapter 23 Abstract
* Zorba and the narrator take care of Madame Hortense while she dies. Dirge singers wait to loot her belongings.
* Madame Hortense dies. Several villagers attempt unsuccessfully to cheer Zorba up.
* Anagnosti heads the inventory and distribution of her belongings and chases off the loitering thieves.
* Zorba adopts Hortense's parrot, and he and the narrator watch her body being taken away.
Chapter 24 Abstract
* Zorba is upset when the narrator cannot answer his queries about why death happens. He wonders why the narrator reads books if they don't offer the answers to such questions.
* Zorba claims to have been Hortense's greatest love because he put all else aside for her.
* Zaharia appears and announces that he's burned down the monastery under orders from Archangel Michael.
* Zaharia dies.
Chapter 25 Abstract
* The cable railway is completed.
* The monks report that Zaharia has been slain by the Holy Virgin of Revenge for arson.
* The first trees tested on the railway are destroyed before they reach the bottom. The passage of the fourth tree causes the entire contraption to collapse and sends the villagers scattering. Zorba and the narrator celebrate anyway.
* Zorba teaches his boss the language of dance.
* The narrator receives a letter from his soldier friend reporting a victory, but the narrator senses danger. He sends a message telepathically as promised in the friends' pact.
Chapter 26 Abstract
* Zorba and the narrator go their separate ways with the narrator promising to stuff himself with books until he no longer needs them and a pact to one day build a monastery of free men with Zorba.
* The narrator learns that Stavridaki, his soldier friend, is dead.
* The narrator gets notes from Zorba over the years, the last being an invitation to visit Germany and see a beautiful green stone.
* Zorba dies and the narrator inherits the Santuri.
This section contains 2,858 words
(approx. 10 pages at 300 words per page)