Short Essay Questions
1. Describe the narrator's relationship with his old friend.
2. What does Zorba represent in the story?
3. Why is the narrator going to Crete?
4. What kinds of responsibilities does Zorba take on at the initiation of his friendship with the narrator.
5. How does the fact that Zorba is missing half of his finger relate to his connection between manliness and freedom?
6. Describe the narrator's counter argument to Zorba's connection between manliness and freedom regarding his missing finger?
7. At the conclusion of Chapter 2, do you think Zorba or the narrator has a more realistic outlook on how to live life?
8. What significance does the fact that Madame Hortense is a widow have toward the theme of manliness?
9. How might Madame Hortense's romantic history challenge Zorba's concept of his own manliness?
10. In Chapter 3, how are the relationships between men and women on Crete exhibited?
11. When Zorba tells the story of the old man who will never die, what does this show about his own and the narrator's perspectives on life and death?
12. Explain the parrot's role in the life of Madame Hortense and her guests.
13. Describe the narrator's memory of his old friend while on their visit to the museum.
14. When the narrator makes an attempt to get to know some of the mine workers, he begins to discuss socialism with them. Zorba does not like this. What are his reasons?
15. Discuss the two goals that the narrator sets for himself at the end of Chapter 4? How is this a shift from the beginning of the story?
16. How does the narrator reveal that he is like his grandfather?
17. What feelings does Zorba express about religion?
18. When the narrator observes Zorba's ease with problem solving in Chapter 5, what figures come into his mind?
19. How does the narrator describe Zorba the first time he sees him dancing?
20. Do you think Zorba's description of dance as a language is accurate? In other words, does the narrator understand what Zorba means by his erratic dancing?
21. Describe Zorba's categories of marriage and how many of each he's experienced.
22. Describe Zorba's only account of his heart being broken.
23. Describe the first time that the narrator sees the widow.
24. When Zorba encourages the narrator to be more like he is and pursue the widow, how does this contradict Zorba's other advice?
25. What does Zorba's version of God look like?
26. What reasons does Zorba give in Chapter 9 for so intensely wanting the narrator to go and sleep with the widow?
27. How does the narrator try to get the widow out of his mind at the beginning of Chapter 10?
28. How does the narrator's memory of the butterfly impact his feelings about approaching the widow?
29. Describe the painting that Zorba presents to Madame Hortense.
30. What is Zorba's account of God's creation of woman?
31. Do you think the narrator has actually lost all interest and faith in poetry as he claims in Chapter 12? How so?
32. What does Karayannis's letter from Africa remind the narrator that he has always wanted to do?
33. How does Zorba's version of the devil living inside him compare to Zorba himself?
34. What does Zorba do while in Candia?
35. Why does Anagnosti say that Pavli is blessed?
36. When writing letters to Madame Hortense, what does the narrator have to do?
37. How does the narrator describe eternity in Chapter 15?
38. What evidence of artistic inspiration does the narrator find in the ruins of the old city? How does he feel when he sees it?
39. What does Zorba say about women when the narrator reveals that he has proposed to Madame Hortense on his behalf?
40. In Chapter 16, what did the sleeping workmen do who when they heard Zorba playing his Santuri?
41. Why does Zaharia say he became a monk?
42. Describe the incident that prompted the monastery icon's name to be changed from Our Lady of Mercy to Our Lady of Revenge.
43. Describe the monastery bishop's first theory on religion.
44. In his third theory of religion, what does the bishop give as God's reason for sending religion to the masses?
45. What is the irony of Zorba comparing himself to Zeus in Chapter 19?
46. What does Madame Hortense actually think of Zorba?
47. Describe what happened while Zorba was at war that changed his mind about judging a person based on nationality.
48. What story does Zorba tell in Chapter 20 that supports the theme that appearance creates reality?
49. What two major shifts happen to the narrator in Chapter 21? What major realization do these shifts spur in the narrator.
50. What does the narrator succeed in doing in Chapter 21 that Zorba could not?
51. Describe the actions that follow after the widow enters the church at the Easter celebration.
52. After the widow's murder, what happens when Zorba and Manolakas meet near the widow's garden?
53. As the narrator watches Zorba comfort Madame Hortense on her death bed with the others eagerly awaiting her death, what does he compare the scene to?
54. What does Zorba say about the act of crying when Madame Hortense dies?
55. What was Zaharia's inspiration for burning down the monastery?
56. What does the narrator state is the reason for Zaharia's death?
57. How did Zaharia appear when he was found dead?
58. Why do you think the narrator's good friend, the soldier, is not named until his death?
59. What might be the significance of the narrator inheriting the Santuri?
60. How are Zorba's final moments described?
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