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 is Zorba's response when the narrator asks him how many times he has been married?

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

3. Why does Zorba watch the widow's home?

4. What part of the narrator's friendship with his absent friend is he sad about?

5. In which category does Zorba think his boss strives for with his food?

Short Essay Questions

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

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

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

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

5. 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?

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

7. When the narrator makes an attempt to get to know some of the mine workers, he begins to discuss socialism with them. Zorba does not like this. What are his reasons?

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

9. What feelings does Zorba express about religion?

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Being present in the moment is a major theme in Zorba the Greek. Kazantzakis utilizes Zorba to literally reinforce this to the narrator but provides him with an array of symbolic messages as well.

Part 1) Describe the narrator's memory of destroying the butterfly cocoon. How did this impact him?

• How does this make him more receptive to Zorba's advice?

• How does it make him less so?

Part 2) Zorba says that the act of celebrating is more important than the object of celebration.

• How is this a message of presence?

• Could Zorba's atheism be a similar symbol of presence? How so?

Part 3) The narrator believes that he can channel his sexual energy for the widow into the Buddha manuscript.

• Do you agree that such an act is possible?

• Is it possible for him to stay present in his physical body as he attempts this?

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

Kazantzakis seems to use destruction, as opposed to creation, as a central theme which moves both main characters away from their original states and toward something new.

Part 1) What things, ideas, and people are destroyed in the novel? Which of these seem most symbolic to you?

Part 2) What two major destructions, which also happen to be the two great "works" of the narrator and Zorba, occur almost simultaneously near the end of the book?

• Are these parallel losses?

• Is one greater than the other?

• How do these two losses make the two characters more similar to one another?

• How do they make them more different?

Part 3) Do the human deaths in the story seem to add or take away from the overall circumstances of the two main characters? Why?

Short Answer Key

1. What is Zorba's response when the narrator asks him how many times he has been married?

Once honestly and twice half-honestly.

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

Four admirals from England, France, Italy, Russia.

3. Why does Zorba watch the widow's home?

He wants to make sure she is not going to bed alone.

4. What part of the narrator's friendship with his absent friend is he sad about?

The two argued rather than expressing love.

5. In which category does Zorba think his boss strives for with his food?

God.

Short Essay Answer Key

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. When the narrator makes an attempt to get to know some of the mine workers, he begins to discuss socialism with them. Zorba does not like this. What are his reasons?

Zorba believes that supervising a workforce requires complete authority. He thinks it's better if they believe they have fewer rights and that workers who feel like they are equal to their bosses will eventually take rights away from their bosses.

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. 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.

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