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. How does the weather look when Joe and Simon start up Siula Grande?

2. What does Simon insist that Joe not do on this trip?

3. What does Joe do to stifle the nausea caused by the pain?

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

5. Before recounting the Mont Blanc incident, Joe determines that Simon...

Short Essay Questions

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

2. Why is Joe so worried about losing Simon's tracks?

3. What are some of the reasons Richard gives for their expeditious departure?

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

5. Why is Joe nervous about the first bivouac site?

6. As Simon descends Siula Grande at the beginning of "Silent Witness", how does he feel about the mountain?

7. What observation does Joe make about tents in the opening scene of the book?

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

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

10. After he is safe in the tent at base camp, what does Joe tell Simon?

Essay Topics

Essay Topic 1

Throughout the second half of the book, Joe continually refers to two minds. In the chapter, 'Mind Games', Joe says he is 'split in two' (p145). He labels one of these minds 'the voice'. What does Joe hear from his bifurcated inner self, and how does he react to each 'half'?

Essay Topic 2

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 3

Joe mentions more than once in the book that he has strange feelings of dread or uneasiness before bad things happen. Why do you think this is? What are Joe's ambiguous feelings on the summit? Research other climbers' similar comments, and compare. Why does he continue to climb mountains if he is so dubious about the ultimate objective? Is the journey more important, or the destination, or even the return journey? Do you think the unspoken final objective of mountain climbers is the summit, or actually making it back alive to tell about it?

(see the answer keys)

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