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

2. Who takes charge when the work begins in the mine?

3. Why does the narrator say that the sexual organs may get in the way of freedom?

4. What is one of the narrator's goals at the end of Chapter 4?

5. In Chapter 4, what does the narrator do when he first awakens?

Short Essay Questions

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

2. How does the narrator reveal that he is like his grandfather?

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

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

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

8. 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?

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

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

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

In the beginning of the story, the narrator is reading a book called The Dialogue of Buddha and the Shepherd, which encourages the virtue of possessing nothing. By the end of the story, he has exorcised the Buddha as an inhabitant of the Void where abstract and unhelpful thinking occurs.

Part 1) How does the appearance of his reading material foreshadow the narrator's experience?

Part 2) Describe the asset that the narrator discovers to be most essential to life. Is this asset truly a possession?

Part 3) Describe Zorba's relationship with possessions. Would he consider his experiences to be his possessions?

Essay Topic 3

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?

Short Answer Key

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

The two argued rather than expressing love.

2. Who takes charge when the work begins in the mine?

Zorba.

3. Why does the narrator say that the sexual organs may get in the way of freedom?

He says that being promiscuous can keep a man from going to heaven.

4. What is one of the narrator's goals at the end of Chapter 4?

He wants to forget about Buddha.

5. In Chapter 4, what does the narrator do when he first awakens?

Smokes a pipe.

Short Essay Answer Key

1. 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.

2. How does the narrator reveal that he is like his grandfather?

He remembers his grandfather demanding that guests tell him their personal stories of adventure so that he could experience the thrill through their stories. This is similar to the narrator in that the adventures for both occur removed from the action and inside the head and ideas of the two.

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. 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. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. 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.

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