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 are Zorba's beliefs about the existence of God?

2. What reason does the narrator give in his argument that Zorba should not pressure him to visit the widow?

3. In Chapter 11, what does the narrator do when he sees the widow?

4. Who does Zorba meet while in Candia?

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

Short Essay Questions

1. After the widow's murder, what happens when Zorba and Manolakas meet near the widow's garden?

2. Discuss the two goals that the narrator sets for himself at the end of Chapter 4? How is this a shift from the beginning of the story?

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

4. When Zorba tells the story of the old man who will never die, what does this show about his own and the narrator's perspectives on life and death?

5. What does Zorba represent in the story?

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

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

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

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

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

Essay 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

A constant struggle in the novel exists between what is fated and what is the result of enacted will.

Part 1) How do the narrator and Zorba differ on the topic of fate? Does either one think that fate can be altered?

Part 2) How does his opinion on fate impact the way the narrator handles his relationship with the widow? What is Zorba's opinion on this?

Part 3) Zorba indicates that he believes all men fall into the marriage "trap" eventually. He also speaks of men and women's particular and inborn flaws. Would these opinions be relegations to fate, or would they, by Zorba's law, be things that an active will could prevent?

Essay Topic 3

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?

Short Answer Key

1. What are Zorba's beliefs about the existence of God?

He does not personally believe in God but believes religion is essential to civilization.

2. What reason does the narrator give in his argument that Zorba should not pressure him to visit the widow?

Acting impulsively is against his nature.

3. In Chapter 11, what does the narrator do when he sees the widow?

Nothing. He is unable to approach her.

4. Who does Zorba meet while in Candia?

A young woman.

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

The two argued rather than expressing love.

Short Essay Answer Key

1. After the widow's murder, what happens when Zorba and Manolakas meet near the widow's garden?

Manolakas challenges Zorba to a knife fight after having been beaten previously. Zorba tells him he will fight without weapons. Then the narrator intervenes and talks them down from fighting at all. They end up all drinking together.

2. Discuss the two goals that the narrator sets for himself at the end of Chapter 4? How is this a shift from the beginning of the story?

The narrator wants to rid himself of Buddha and the abstract thinking that comes along with Buddha. He also wants to be completely present in the physical world of men. He has wanted to find this physicality since the beginning of the story when his old friend's words inspire him to seek such a life, and begin his journey to Crete. Originally, he was completely invested in philosophizing as well. However, the fact that he wants to exorcise Buddha from his thinking is a definite shift in his character.

3. 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.

4. When Zorba tells the story of the old man who will never die, what does this show about his own and the narrator's perspectives on life and death?

Neither the narrator nor Zorba come to a conclusion about how one should live one's life. Zorba clearly lives as though each day is his last, in opposition to the old man in his story. The narrator is uncertain and contemplative about life and death and seems to change his mind slightly as he is influenced by different thinking.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. 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.

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