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. Where is the narrator sitting and thinking at the beginning of the story?

2. What incident on the beach mellows the narrator's restlessness?

3. Who does the narrator receive letters from in Chapter 12?

4. What is the name of the new friend the narrator makes at the beginning of the novel?

5. What does Zorba consider the act of dancing to be?

Short Essay Questions

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

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

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

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

5. How does Zorba's version of the devil living inside him compare to Zorba himself?

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

7. What does Zorba represent in the story?

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

9. Describe the first time that the narrator sees the widow.

10. Why is the narrator going to Crete?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

After Zorba's return from Candia, the narrator attempts to convince him that the power of a mind concentrated on one thing is the singular path to great accomplishment.

Part 1) How does Zorba respond to this attempted lesson?

• Is the narrator's lesson on meditation received and practiced or do both file it with the "Void"?

• Do you agree with the narrator?

Part 2) How might concentration on a single thing threaten Zorba's way of life and very existence?

Part 3) Zorba has returned from Candia with an appearance altered to look younger. This is a strange juxtaposition to the narrator's focus on meditation.

• Are there parallels in the two men's behaviors?

• Or are the simply at odds with one another?

Essay Topic 2

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?

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. Where is the narrator sitting and thinking at the beginning of the story?

In a bar.

2. What incident on the beach mellows the narrator's restlessness?

He accidentally kills a butterfly.

3. Who does the narrator receive letters from in Chapter 12?

His old friend and Karayannis.

4. What is the name of the new friend the narrator makes at the beginning of the novel?

Zorba.

5. What does Zorba consider the act of dancing to be?

Communication.

Short Essay Answer Key

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

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 Zorba's version of the devil living inside him compare to Zorba himself?

Zorba says that the devil is a mirror image of himself. The only difference is that the devil refuses to grow old. He also wears a red carnation behind his ear.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. Describe the first time that the narrator sees the widow.

The narrator and Zorba duck into a cafe in the middle of a rainstorm, and from here, they see the widow run past the window. The narrator immediately finds her beautiful, although there are a variety of responses to her presence, not all of them positive. Soon after, Mimiko enters and reports that the widow has lost her sheep and offers a reward to anyone who can help return it to her.

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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