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 animals do the climbers use to transport their gear to base camp?

2. What does Joe do while he is waiting for Simon between lowerings?

3. How long do Joe and Simon expect to be gone on their climb of Siula Grande?

4. What do Joe and Simon climb at the beginning of the ascent on Siula Grande?

5. What object does Joe have trouble with in the beginning of the story?

Short Essay Questions

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

2. On page 65, Joe says, 'I knew it would be a good day.' By the end of the day, how and why does his view of the day change?

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 worries Joe and Simon the most about the final part of the route to the summit?

5. Explain how Joe feels for the two days immediately prior to setting out for Siula Grande.

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

7. Describe the first bivouac site on Siula Grande.

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

9. At the beginning of "Tempting Fate", what does Joe say about his fingers, and how does he deal with them?

10. At the beginning of "Disaster", what is Joe's attitude?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Compare and/or contrast Joe's use of patterns and rhythm throughout the book. Does he use them as a function of his personality, as a result of the essence of climbing, or out of necessity? Discuss the appearance of these patterns in climbing, in the rescue attempt, and in Joe's journey back to base camp.

Essay Topic 2

Joe provides a wealth of imagery when describing the figures he sees in the ice cliff shortly after emerging from the crevasse. Comment on these, providing at least five examples. When we read vivid descriptions, this usually leads our minds to other images of things that we have experienced. Describe what you see, as related to your own experience, when you read his descriptions. How do you relate to his descriptions? Do you see any significance in what these figures look like and/or in what the figures are doing? Do you view these figures as ambiguous in any way? If so, how? Which of Joe's primal needs or core beliefs are these figures appealing to or taunting, if any?

Essay Topic 3

Some may argue that the accident could have been avoided. Explore the possible causes of the accident. What single mistake leads to a chain reaction of events? Explain the cause and effect of each of these events in the chain, and how different decisions would, or could, lead to a different outcome. Why do most climbing incidents, accidents, disasters, and deaths occur on the descent? Is there anything that Joe and Simon could do differently to prevent the ordeal, or is it just a freak accident, no matter what they do?

(see the answer keys)

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