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. What does Zorba's gift prompt Madame Hortense to do?

3. Who is the second person to offer the narrator and Zorba lodging in Crete?

4. How does the narrator end the letter to his friend in Chapter 8?

5. About what does Zorba confront the miners?

Short Essay Questions

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

2. What story does Zorba tell in Chapter 20 that supports the theme that appearance creates reality?

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

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

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

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

7. Describe the monastery bishop's first theory on religion.

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

9. 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?

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

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

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

The narrator's intuition is a powerful asset which returns to him over and over as a sort of interface between the mind, body, and soul.

Part 1) Describe how the narrator's intuition works when he fabricates a letter from Zorba to Madame Hortense.

• How is he able to come up with Zorba's private terms of endearment?

• Do you think this level of intuition is more an act of the mind, the body, the soul, or some combination of the three?

Part 2) Do you think Zorba or the narrator is the more intuitive man?

• Taking into account their respective histories, what elements might have developed intuition more in one character or the other?

• Is intuition a product of being physically present or might it have developed as compensation for indulgence in a life of books?

Part 3) The narrator also exercises his intuition when he foresees Stavridaki's peril. Look for other instances in which the narrator seems to sense reality.

• How are these different from the way that Zorba considers reality?

• Does the narrator become more or less intuitive as the novel progresses?

• Does Zorba impact this characteristic in him?

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. What does Zorba's gift prompt Madame Hortense to do?

Talk about her love affairs.

3. Who is the second person to offer the narrator and Zorba lodging in Crete?

The village elder.

4. How does the narrator end the letter to his friend in Chapter 8?

He tells him that he has love for him.

5. About what does Zorba confront the miners?

Failing to get their picks before exiting.

Short Essay Answer Key

1. 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.

2. What story does Zorba tell in Chapter 20 that supports the theme that appearance creates reality?

Zorba tells a story in which his grandfather takes a piece of wood, calls it part of the True Cross, and declares that it will protect the soldier to whom he gifts it from all harm in battle. The soldier then becomes a brave and invincible warrior simply because he believes that he has nothing to fear.

3. 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.

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. 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.

6. 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.

7. Describe the monastery bishop's first theory on religion.

He believes that the shape of a flower influences its color and its color then has an influence on its properties which in turn produce a specific effect on humans. He summarizes this theory with the belief that men should be careful when walking through fields of flowers because of the peculiar effects the flowers are having on them.

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. 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.

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