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 painting does Zorba present to Madame Hortense?

2. Who takes charge when the work begins in the mine?

3. What happens at the celebration in Chapter 5?

4. What or who does the narrator's long-time friend live for?

5. How does Zorba believe a man should treat a woman?

Short Essay Questions

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

2. When the narrator observes Zorba's ease with problem solving in Chapter 5, what figures come into his mind?

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

4. How might Madame Hortense's romantic history challenge Zorba's concept of his own manliness?

5. Describe the narrator's memory of his old friend while on their visit to the museum.

6. What is Zorba's account of God's creation of woman?

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

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

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

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Zorba seems to conclude the thematic strand of the categories of men by retelling stories of war, both his own and others.

Part 1) Describe the way in which Zorba moved from patriotism, a man for his nation, to being a man of self. How might the story of the True Cross have encouraged this shift?

Part 2) Zorba admits to some heinous murders while acting as a man of patriotism. He also acknowledges extreme selfishness as a man who lives for the self.

• Do you think that one of the categorizations represented in the book might be more prone to wrongdoing? Which one and why?

• Might a man of God be just as likely to commit horrible crimes if he believed he was doing it for God?

Part 3) Zorba says he is no longer concerned with a man's nationality, only whether he is "good" or "bad."

• What would qualify as "good" to Zorba?

• Do you agree with Zorba's definition of "good"?

Essay Topic 2

Zorba has a complex relationship with the female sex. The narrator regards him as misogynistic, but he, at times, seems to afford women more freedoms than the average villager.

Part 1) Under what category of his "marriages" would Zorba's relationship with Madame Hortense fall under? Why?

• How does Zorba treat her differently than the other villagers do?

• Does his treatment of her fall in line with his claim that women have less moral strength than men?

Part 2) Zorba tells a story of his brother threatening to kill his daughter for becoming pregnant out of wedlock upon which he offers no opinion. He also reveals that to his greatest love he was only "half-honestly" married.

• Do you think Zorba is a misogynist?

• How does his behavior with women deviate from traditional values?

• Does this make him less of a misogynist?

• Do any of his behaviors make him more "free"?

Part 3) How does Zorba's description of Zeus, the overworked love slave, contradict his misogyny? Does it support it?

Essay Topic 3

One theme throughout the story is that God and the devil may be one and the same creature.

Part 1) How does the narrator's writing of the Buddha Manuscript exhibit this theme?

Part 2) How does the atheist Zorba's description of both God and the devil support this theme?

Part 3) What does this mean in the narrator's search for ultimate "freedom"?

Short Answer Key

1. What painting does Zorba present to Madame Hortense?

A painting of her as a siren leading battleships.

2. Who takes charge when the work begins in the mine?

Zorba.

3. What happens at the celebration in Chapter 5?

The castration of pigs.

4. What or who does the narrator's long-time friend live for?

Mankind.

5. How does Zorba believe a man should treat a woman?

He should tell her she's beautiful no matter what.

Short Essay Answer Key

1. 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.

2. When the narrator observes Zorba's ease with problem solving in Chapter 5, what figures come into his mind?

The narrator realizes that Zorba's mind is not stressed with education and that his problem solving is a result of his connection with the physical world. He compares Zorba to Alexander the Great cutting through the Gordian knot with his sword. His notes that it is difficult to miss with feet planted firmly and held by the weight of the entire body. This leads him to compare Zorba to the serpent worshiped by Africans. He notes that anything so connected with and touching the earth constantly must be superior in its understanding of the earth's workings.

3. 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.

4. How might Madame Hortense's romantic history challenge Zorba's concept of his own manliness?

Zorba believes in living for the day and that any impediment to freedom and manliness should be removed. Because he thinks sexual relationships are the ultimate in the physical life, he is helpless against the force of her own history. She has been romanced by legendary and powerful men, and Zorba cannot do anything to remove them as competitive forces from his own life. He offers to take on Canavaro's role in her life, but he has no power or awareness of how to actually fulfill that role.

5. Describe the narrator's memory of his old friend while on their visit to the museum.

The narrator's old friend told him of his love for a painting by Rembrandt; a painting he says he will owe his greatest accomplishments to. As they are leaving the museum, they see a bird land on a statue of an Amazon and begin singing. The narrator asks what it might mean, and the friend recites a few lines that encourage the narrator not to bother himself with such thoughts.

6. What is Zorba's account of God's creation of woman?

Zorba says that when God removed the rib from Adam, the devil turned into a snake and snatched the rib and ran off with it. God then chased the devil and caught him, but the devil ultimately got away while God was left holding only his horns. God then made woman out of the devil's horns rather than the rib of Adam.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. 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.

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