Zorba the Greek Test | Mid-Book Test - Hard

This set of Lesson Plans consists of approximately 156 pages of tests, essay questions, lessons, and other teaching materials.
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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. In a letter to his friend, what does the narrator say his friend inspired him to do?

2. What does the narrator do when Zorba displays frustration with the miners?

3. What does Zorba tell the narrator he should have done before going to bed the night before in chapter 4?

4. Zorba tells the story of an old man who will what?

5. What is the primary message in the book that the narrator is reading?

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. Describe the narrator's relationship with his old friend.

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

4. What significance does the fact that Madame Hortense is a widow have toward the theme of manliness?

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

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

7. Describe the painting that Zorba presents to Madame Hortense.

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

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. Why is the narrator going to Crete?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

The narrator's intuition is a powerful asset which returns to him over and over as a sort of interface between the mind, body, and soul.

Part 1) Describe how the narrator's intuition works when he fabricates a letter from Zorba to Madame Hortense.

• How is he able to come up with Zorba's private terms of endearment?

• Do you think this level of intuition is more an act of the mind, the body, the soul, or some combination of the three?

Part 2) Do you think Zorba or the narrator is the more intuitive man?

• Taking into account their respective histories, what elements might have developed intuition more in one character or the other?

• Is intuition a product of being physically present or might it have developed as compensation for indulgence in a life of books?

Part 3) The narrator also exercises his intuition when he foresees Stavridaki's peril. Look for other instances in which the narrator seems to sense reality.

• How are these different from the way that Zorba considers reality?

• Does the narrator become more or less intuitive as the novel progresses?

• Does Zorba impact this characteristic in him?

Essay Topic 2

Several occurrences dovetail into the final exorcism of the Buddha.

Part 1) The death of Madame Hortense coincides with the narrator's affair with the widow and his completion of the manuscript.

• How might Hortense's death symbolize the death of the Buddha? Was Hortense physically present in life?

• Could her fantasies about past lovers and her role as a siren be categorized as a part of the "Void"?

• What kind of symbolic import does the looting of her belongings have on the theme of the Buddha?

Part 2) Zorba ultimately encourages the narrator to pursue the widow. Describe the outcome of the physical intimacy.

• Do you believe that physical intimacy could free the narrator from his philosophizing?

• Does the narrator adopt Zorba's ideas about physical intimacy? Should he?

Part 3) Do you think the narrator is completely finished with the Buddha when he finishes the manuscript? Provide evidence to support your answer.

Essay Topic 3

The notion of "eternity" plays a consistent though seldom-mentioned role in Zorba the Greek.

Part 1) How would Zorba describe "eternity" on the boat at the beginning of the story?

• How would he describe it after Madame Hortense's death?

• What has brought him to this point?

• Is there any way in which Zorba can reconciliate living presently in the mystery with attempting to solve the question of an eternity that may be marked by a lack of physicality?

• Does he come close to solving this problem for himself?

Part 2) The narrator has a conversation with Mother Superior at the convent in which "eternity" is discussed?

• What is the narrator's response to the conversation?

• What does he mean when he refers to Buddha as the terrible "Last Man"?

• Is eternity a part of the "Void" for the narrator, or is it a notion he is able to reconcile with his quest for the ever-present physical world?

Part 3) How do the deaths of Madame Hortense and the widow alter Zorba and the narrator's convictions about eternity?

Short Answer Key

1. In a letter to his friend, what does the narrator say his friend inspired him to do?

Pursue a life of physical action.

2. What does the narrator do when Zorba displays frustration with the miners?

He calls a lunch break.

3. What does Zorba tell the narrator he should have done before going to bed the night before in chapter 4?

He says the narrator should have told Dame Hortense how beautiful she is.

4. Zorba tells the story of an old man who will what?

Never die.

5. What is the primary message in the book that the narrator is reading?

It emphasizes the virtue of possessing nothing.

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. Describe the narrator's relationship with his old friend.

The narrator and his friend have a deep connection and love for one another. However, the connection is largely unspoken as the two men often argue rather than express emotion to one another. The soldier friend is more of an adventurer than the narrator, and often teases the narrator for being such a bookworm. The two men contrast one another; the narrator is more of a philosopher who is focused on a higher power, while the friend is a soldier who believes in living his life for his fellow man and his nation. The connection between the two men, despite their differences, is clear in their agreement to send mental messages to one another if they sense danger. This obviously indicates that they believe strongly in their connection and friendship.

3. 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.

4. What significance does the fact that Madame Hortense is a widow have toward the theme of manliness?

Madame Hortense is a character on whom Zorba and the narrator choose instantly to rely upon for shelter. The fact that she is completely devoid of Zorba's "manliness" (as a widowed woman) and has outlived her four great lovers, admirals who could be classified as the most manly of all men, speaks to a contrasting energy of freedom neither articulated by the narrator nor by Zorba.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. Describe the painting that Zorba presents to Madame Hortense.

The painting has four huge battleships on it in red, gold, gray, and black, each with a flag from one of four countries: England, France, Italy, and Russia. Leading the battleship as a siren was Madame Hortense, naked with a yellow ribbon around her neck and holding four strings attached to the ships.

8. 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.

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. Why is the narrator going to Crete?

The narrator is curious about the adventurous life his friend preached to him. He is going to Crete to experiment with such a life by renting a lignite mine and thus engaging more with the physical world. His overall goal in these actions is to find freedom through a marriage of the mind and body.

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