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 exclamation does the first chapter conclude with?

2. What does the narrator remember his grandfather doing?

3. What does Zorba promise the narrator upon the initiation of their friendship?

4. How does the narrator end the letter to his friend in Chapter 8?

5. Who is the second person to offer the narrator and Zorba lodging in Crete?

Short Essay Questions

1. What does Zorba represent in the story?

2. 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?

3. 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?

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

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

6. 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?

7. Describe Zorba's categories of marriage and how many of each he's experienced.

8. How does the narrator try to get the widow out of his mind at the beginning of Chapter 10?

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

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Kazantzakis injects the epistolary into the trajectory of the novel. Some of the characters express more emotion with this mode of communication, while it is simply different for others.

Part 1) The reader gets to know the narrator's soldier friend only by way of the narrator's memories and letters between the men.

• How is their relationship different in letters than it would be in person?

• What other forms of communication do the two men practice?

• Which do you think is the strongest between them?

Part 2) Zorba writes to the narrator from Candia.

• Is his expression altered, impaired, or improved upon by letter writing?

• Do the two characters grow closer through the exchange?

Part 3) Letter writing could be classified under what Zorba calls pen-pushing.

• Do you think the letter writing between the men is a less physical form of interaction than speaking?

• Why or why not?

Essay Topic 2

A constant struggle in the novel exists between what is fated and what is the result of enacted will.

Part 1) How do the narrator and Zorba differ on the topic of fate? Does either one think that fate can be altered?

Part 2) How does his opinion on fate impact the way the narrator handles his relationship with the widow? What is Zorba's opinion on this?

Part 3) Zorba indicates that he believes all men fall into the marriage "trap" eventually. He also speaks of men and women's particular and inborn flaws. Would these opinions be relegations to fate, or would they, by Zorba's law, be things that an active will could prevent?

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 exclamation does the first chapter conclude with?

"God and the Devil!"

2. What does the narrator remember his grandfather doing?

He demanded stories from his guests.

3. What does Zorba promise the narrator upon the initiation of their friendship?

He promises to cook him soup and play him music.

4. How does the narrator end the letter to his friend in Chapter 8?

He tells him that he has love for him.

5. Who is the second person to offer the narrator and Zorba lodging in Crete?

The village elder.

Short Essay Answer Key

1. What does Zorba represent in the story?

Zorba represents a man who lives for the physical world and ultimately for the individual self in that world. He is an agent of instinct and lacks theoretical reason for his actions. For the narrator, Zorba is a potential symbol of freedom in the narrator's quest to find freedom.

2. 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.

3. 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?

Neither the narrator nor Zorba come to a conclusion about how one should live one's life. Zorba clearly lives as though each day is his last, in opposition to the old man in his story. The narrator is uncertain and contemplative about life and death and seems to change his mind slightly as he is influenced by different thinking.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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?

The narrator wants to rid himself of Buddha and the abstract thinking that comes along with Buddha. He also wants to be completely present in the physical world of men. He has wanted to find this physicality since the beginning of the story when his old friend's words inspire him to seek such a life, and begin his journey to Crete. Originally, he was completely invested in philosophizing as well. However, the fact that he wants to exorcise Buddha from his thinking is a definite shift in his character.

7. Describe Zorba's categories of marriage and how many of each he's experienced.

Zorba says he's been married "honestly," "half-honestly," and "dishonestly." He says that he's been married "honestly" or legally only once. He says that he's been "half-honestly" married, or in relationships similar to marriage that were not made formal and legal with a wedding, two times. He says that he's been "dishonestly" married a thousand times, and by this he is referring to every sexual encounter he's ever had.

8. How does the narrator try to get the widow out of his mind at the beginning of Chapter 10?

The narrator views the widow as a temptation of the Evil One and focuses on writing his Buddha Manuscript in order to exorcise her image and the lust he feels for her from his mind. To him, his writing is comparable to the force of savages facing beasts with their spears.

9. 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.

10. 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.

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