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

2. Who reports that a widow has lost her sheep and is offering a reward for it?

3. What does Zorba say that his 80 year-old grandmother wanted?

4. Who were Madame Hortense's four great loves?

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

Short Essay Questions

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

2. 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?

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

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

5. Do you think the narrator has actually lost all interest and faith in poetry as he claims in Chapter 12? How so?

6. What feelings does Zorba express about religion?

7. Describe Zorba's only account of his heart being broken.

8. At the conclusion of Chapter 2, do you think Zorba or the narrator has a more realistic outlook on how to live life?

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

10. What does Zorba do while in Candia?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

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 2

There are several parallel calamities/destructions that occur in the novel:

1) the lignite mine and the monastery

2) the Buddha and the timber rail

3) the death of Madame Hortense and the death of the widow

Pick one set to compare and contrast both literally and symbolically.

Essay Topic 3

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?

Short Answer Key

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

Dame Hortense.

2. Who reports that a widow has lost her sheep and is offering a reward for it?

Mimiko.

3. What does Zorba say that his 80 year-old grandmother wanted?

She wanted to be serenaded.

4. Who were Madame Hortense's four great loves?

Four admirals from England, France, Italy, Russia.

5. 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.

Short Essay Answer Key

1. 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.

2. 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.

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. 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.

5. Do you think the narrator has actually lost all interest and faith in poetry as he claims in Chapter 12? How so?

No. When the narrator says of the Buddha, "I must mobilize words and their necromantic power...invoke magic rhythms; lay siege to him, cast a spell over him and drive him out of my entrails! I must throw over him the net of images, catch him and free myself!" he demonstrates a transformation in the way he sees poetry. He sees it less as contemplation and more as a physical act of using language. His use of the craft has changed, but it is untrue that he no longer has use for it as he so claims.

6. What feelings does Zorba express about religion?

Zorba claims to be an atheist. However, when it comes to the other villagers, Zorba believes that religion is not only important but is the center of their way of life. He warns the narrator that speaking against religion to the villagers is not wise as it is better for them than having no organized structure at all.

7. Describe Zorba's only account of his heart being broken.

Zorba met a woman named Noussa ten days after leaving the village of his previous lover. Noussa invited him to her house for a feast at which Zorba gave a toast. After this, the lights went out and a massive orgy began. He lost Noussa in the midst of the orgy but found her the next day, and they remained together for 6 months. She then eloped with a soldier and broke Zorba's heart.

8. At the conclusion of Chapter 2, do you think Zorba or the narrator has a more realistic outlook on how to live life?

I think that they have very different perspectives as distinct as two different languages. Zorba's outlook might be easier on a day-by-day basis as his doesn't require a lot of thinking through of various options and looks directly to instinct and passion. The narrator's perspective might be the more "realistic" however, in that it takes a much broader look at the many elements and their complex arrangements which come together to inform life.

9. 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.

10. What does Zorba do while in Candia?

He meets a young girl with whom he has an affair. He also spends all of the boss's money.

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