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 were Madame Hortense's four great loves?

2. What does the narrator's manuscript become for him?

3. In regards to food, what three categories does Zorba say that the three different types of men turn their food into?

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

5. How does Lola refer to Zorba?

Short Essay Questions

1. 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?

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

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

4. What does Zorba's version of God look like?

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

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

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

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

9. What does Zorba represent in the story?

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

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 2

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 3

Human management of the desire for material things and other people is a central crux of the characters' experiences.

Part 1) How does Zorba suggest that intense desire be sated?

• How is this similar to the narrator's act of writing the Buddha Manuscript?

• Do you think there is more value in lust for abstract philosophizing than in lust for the material world? Or vice versa?

• Are they equally gluttonous attitudes?

Part 2) Zorba notes that all of the monks strongly desire some material thing.

• How does he encourage them to handle their desires?

• Does he encourage Demetrios and Gavrili to handle their lusts similarly?

• Does Zorba's attempt at getting a deal on the land support his theories on desire and satisfaction or contradict them?

Part 3) How do the men at the monastery symbolize the struggle between Zorba and the narrator? Do the bishop's great theories on religion and the abbot's business ventures make the men more like Zorba or more like the narrator?

Short Answer Key

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

Four admirals from England, France, Italy, Russia.

2. What does the narrator's manuscript become for him?

A war-like attempt to completely remove the prophet from his soul.

3. In regards to food, what three categories does Zorba say that the three different types of men turn their food into?

Fat and manure, work and good humor, and God.

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

In a bar.

5. How does Lola refer to Zorba?

Grandad.

Short Essay Answer Key

1. 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.

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. 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. What does Zorba's version of God look like?

Zorba claims to be an atheist, but he does tell the narrator that God is likely a more outrageous version of himself for whom forgiveness is not difficult, and who does not want to be worshiped.

5. 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.

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. 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.

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. 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.

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