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 is a couloir?

2. When Joe and Simon move together along the ridge, how far behind Simon does Joe follow?

3. How does Simon cut the rope?

4. How many practice climbs do Joe and Simon complete in order to acclimatize?

5. What does Joe try to use to climb up the rope?

Short Essay Questions

1. While thinking about the possibility of having fallen off the ridge while roped together, Joe talks about what incident witnessed by Simon?

2. 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?

3. When Joe and Simon start their ascent of the first ice wall on Siula Grande, what is Joe's attitude toward what they are doing?

4. What does Joe like about Simon's personality?

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

6. Joe says that a 'warm feeling' stays with him while Simon lowers him. What 'warm feeling' is he referring to?

7. Compare or contrast the influence of the incident on The Bonatti Pillar on the climbing careers of Joe Simpson and Ian Whittaker.

8. Describe Simon's feelings at the end of "The Final Choice".

9. What occurs to Joe at the beginning of "On the Edge"?

10. In "Storm at the Summit", how does Joe get a bloody lip and a cracked tooth?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

In the Postscript, Joe says "The scars of six operations stood out lividly on the distorted joint. At least the wounds in my mind had healed better than these." After reading the Epilogue, how do you assess Joe's "healing"? Do you agree? What do you think about Joe's decision to go back and climb mountains again? Do you think this is imprudent, or admirable?

Essay Topic 2

Throughout his ordeal, Simon mentions the presence of songs and song lyrics in his head, even ones that he hates. Research and write about why this happens in the human psyche. Do you think that this means music plays an important role in Joe's life? How, exactly, is the music helping Joe? Is the music as prevalent as the voices and thoughts? Briefly mention your own experience with this phenomenon when under stress, if any.

Essay Topic 3

In the Epilogue, "Bad Memories", Joe talks about his experience of returning to Siula Grande for the filming of "Touching the Void". He says repeatedly that he feels "panic" and mentions post-traumatic stress syndrome. Research the effects of post-traumatic stress syndrome, its history, and the advances in its treatment. Why doesn't Joe get treatment for the disorder? Does he have the disorder? What has helped with getting over his traumatic experience?

(see the answer keys)

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