Touching the Void Test | Mid-Book Test - Hard

Joe Simpson (mountaineer)
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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 do the climbers run out of in the chapter "On the Edge"?

2. After lowering Joe down, what is Simon's signal that Joe needs to take his weight off the rope?

3. When the rope suddenly pulls on Simon with great force, what situation is Joe in that Simon cannot see?

4. When Joe says to Simon, 'We should top out today' (p41), what does he mean?

5. What is a "Friend"?

Short Essay Questions

1. Toward the end of "On the Edge", Joe awakens in the snow hole with what sensation?

2. In "Disaster", Joe says, 'In an instant an uncrossable gap had come between us and we were no longer a team working together.' In "The Final Choice", how has Joe's view changed?

3. Why does Joe consider standing on the summit an unsettling anticlimax?

4. When beginning his climb for the summit from the bivouac site 300 feet below the summit, what pros and cons does Joe mention about climbing in the daylight?

5. On the eve of the summit conquest, what does Simon do that leaves Joe in disbelief?

6. What happens on The Bonatti Pillar on Les Petits Drus in the French Alps?

7. After breaking his leg, why doesn't Joe ask Simon for help?

8. Why do Simon and Joe avoid the issue of discussing their game plan after Joe's injury?

9. On page 65 in "On the Edge", Joe says, 'Funny how my anxiety [about Simon's frostbitten fingers] seemed to have more to do with whether he would be able to carry on climbing after we got down rather than concern for his injuries'. Why is this statement significant?

10. On the first practice climb to Seria Norte, Joe loses sight of base camp and immediately notices what?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Revisit the Shakespeare soliloquy that Joe hears in his head and eventually recites. Why does this verse come to mind, and why is he familiar with it? Why is it significant that a soliloquy surfaces in his mind, and not another type of speech or writing? What inherent characteristics of a soliloquy make it appropriate to Joe's current circumstances? Does the content of the Shakespeare piece have any significance to Joe's situation? How do you interpret the soliloquy?

Essay Topic 2

At seven o'clock on the night before their departure, Simon and Richard hear an 'eerie wail' that Richard dismisses as a dog (p172). Study the time line of events. Is it possible that the wail they hear is Joe's first cry for help that he howls into the night from the highest point of the moraines? Why or why not? Support or refute this with evidence.

Essay Topic 3

Discuss Simon's inner conflict regarding telling the truth about what happened. How does he justify the fabrication of a lie or the editing of the complete truth? How does he justify complete honesty? Does he believe he will be criticized? If so, why, and by whom? Does he believe he will receive support? If so, why, and by whom?

(see the answer keys)

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