Zorba the Greek Test | Mid-Book Test - Hard

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This test consists of 5 short answer questions, 10 short essay questions, and 1 (of 3) essay topics.

Short Answer Questions

1. What happens to Zorba that he believes to be a terrible omen?

2. What does Zorba do when he hears his boss talking to the workmen?

3. Under what conditions does Zorba say that Noussa left him?

4. Who do Zorba and the narrator stay with on their first night on the island?

5. Why does Zorba travel to town in Chapter 12?

Short Essay Questions

1. 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?

2. How does the narrator's memory of the butterfly impact his feelings about approaching the widow?

3. When Zorba encourages the narrator to be more like he is and pursue the widow, how does this contradict Zorba's other advice?

4. How does the fact that Zorba is missing half of his finger relate to his connection between manliness and freedom?

5. How does the narrator describe Zorba the first time he sees him dancing?

6. What reasons does Zorba give in Chapter 9 for so intensely wanting the narrator to go and sleep with the widow?

7. What does Karayannis's letter from Africa remind the narrator that he has always wanted to do?

8. Explain the parrot's role in the life of Madame Hortense and her guests.

9. Describe the narrator's counter argument to Zorba's connection between manliness and freedom regarding his missing finger?

10. What kinds of responsibilities does Zorba take on at the initiation of his friendship with the narrator.

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Human management of the desire for material things and other people is a central crux of the characters' experiences.

Part 1) How does Zorba suggest that intense desire be sated?

• How is this similar to the narrator's act of writing the Buddha Manuscript?

• Do you think there is more value in lust for abstract philosophizing than in lust for the material world? Or vice versa?

• Are they equally gluttonous attitudes?

Part 2) Zorba notes that all of the monks strongly desire some material thing.

• How does he encourage them to handle their desires?

• Does he encourage Demetrios and Gavrili to handle their lusts similarly?

• Does Zorba's attempt at getting a deal on the land support his theories on desire and satisfaction or contradict them?

Part 3) How do the men at the monastery symbolize the struggle between Zorba and the narrator? Do the bishop's great theories on religion and the abbot's business ventures make the men more like Zorba or more like the narrator?

Essay Topic 2

Zorba offers a range of religious thought. At times, he calls himself an atheist. Later, he describes God and the devil to be exactly like himself. Still later, he rewrites Christianity, claiming that Jesus is an heir to Zeus.

Part 1) Describe Zorba's relationship to the religion of the villagers. How does he react to it?

Part 2) Based on dialogue and actions, Is Zorba truly an atheist? Why?

Part 3) How does the irony of Zorba's religious talk instruct the narrator on his path to exorcising his own philosophical thought?

Essay Topic 3

Zorba's relationship with Madame Hortense challenges everything he believes about women and relationships.

Part 1) How is Madame Hortense similar to Zorba's generalization of all women? How is she different?

Part 2) Zorba waffles between insisting that men are in service to women and that women are inferior to men.

• In what way does Madame Hortense situate him strictly as a service person?

• How does Zorba respond to this?

Part 3) Do you think Madame Hortense is settling for Zorba?

• Is Zorba settling for her?

• Why does he agree to marry her?

Short Answer Key

1. What happens to Zorba that he believes to be a terrible omen?

A priest crosses his path.

2. What does Zorba do when he hears his boss talking to the workmen?

He throws his boss out of the mine.

3. Under what conditions does Zorba say that Noussa left him?

She eloped with a soldier.

4. Who do Zorba and the narrator stay with on their first night on the island?

Dame Hortense.

5. Why does Zorba travel to town in Chapter 12?

To buy supplies for the mine.

Short Essay Answer Key

1. 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?

Zorba says that he had so much joy that he had to let it out somehow and dancing was the best way to let the explosion loose. The dancing reminds the narrator of a story he made up about how his grandfather died. He told friends that the old man bounced on rubber shoes until he disappeared into the clouds. This does exhibit some understanding. The narrator associates the dancing with a great release of energy although he cannot clearly name it.

2. How does the narrator's memory of the butterfly impact his feelings about approaching the widow?

The narrator had attempted to help the butterfly emerge from the cocoon by blowing warm air on it. Doing this made the butterfly emerge too quickly and die. The narrator realizes while meditating on this memory, that an individual must "confidently obey the eternal rhythm." He knows, in turn, that he can't speed his relationship with the widow and must let it unfold naturally.

3. When Zorba encourages the narrator to be more like he is and pursue the widow, how does this contradict Zorba's other advice?

Previously, Zorba told a parable about a crow who tries to walk like a pigeon, reinforcing his idea that one must remain true to his true and individual identity. Zorba's disappointment with the narrator when he is unable to be the man of sensuality that Zorba is, contradicts this parable to some extent.

4. How does the fact that Zorba is missing half of his finger relate to his connection between manliness and freedom?

Zorba says that he cut part of his finger off because it got in the way of making pottery. He argues that anything that gets in the way of man doing what he wants should be removed. Because it takes a great deal of physical and mental courage to remove a body part, the connection for Zorba is strong.

5. How does the narrator describe Zorba the first time he sees him dancing?

The narrator says Zorba looks like he is wearing rubber shoes. He also says that Zorba's soul looks like it is trying to fling his body like a meteor into the darkness.

6. What reasons does Zorba give in Chapter 9 for so intensely wanting the narrator to go and sleep with the widow?

He says that women need men to sleep with them and protect them; that it is a part of a greater plan. He says she will be ruined if a man does not go and sleep with her. He also says that not taking the opportunity to sleep with her is one sin that God will not forgive.

7. What does Karayannis's letter from Africa remind the narrator that he has always wanted to do?

He has a desire to see and touch as much of the world as he possibly can before he dies.

8. Explain the parrot's role in the life of Madame Hortense and her guests.

Hortense's parrot is a constant reminder of Madame Hortense's greatest love. As a possession, it has been trained to say Canavaro's name repeatedly and therefore to challenge the immediacy of Zorba's manliness.

9. Describe the narrator's counter argument to Zorba's connection between manliness and freedom regarding his missing finger?

The narrator argues that although such passions are admirable, they could also possibly lead to the desire to remove more crucial body parts. He suggests that Zorba might eventually want to remove his sexual organs, which would have a much more life-altering and drastic result.

10. What kinds of responsibilities does Zorba take on at the initiation of his friendship with the narrator.

Zorba agrees to act as foreman of the lignite mine. He also promises to cook the narrator soup and play him music on his santuri.

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