What are the themes in Zorba the Greek?

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jilllessa | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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The major theme throughout Zorba the Greek is the exploration of the existentialist predicament. Existentialism is a philosophical school of thought that believes that there is no order or meaning in the universe.Thus humans either have to create meaning in their lives through their choices or wander aimlessly through a meaningless existence. Kazantakis looks at this predicament through the opposing characters of the narrator, "the Boss," a Buddhist ascetic, and Alexis Zorba, a worldly hedonist.

A second theme is the classic contrast between an Apollonian and Dionysian world view. The first is cerebral, based more in the thought; the second is more visceral, based on our physical bodies. According to Kazantakis both are necessary if we are to make any meaning out of life.

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