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 the first thing Simon says to Joe after Joe tells him about the broken leg?

2. What do the climbers use to help them see at night?

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

4. While Joe ponders the notion of being left, the rope goes slack. What does this mean?

5. What is verglas?

Short Essay Questions

1. After Joe tells Simon that he has broken his leg, he describes the pitiful look that Simon gives him as, 'a distance given to a wounded animal which could not be helped' (p74). From Simon's point of view, why does he give him this look?

2. Describe the first bivouac site on Siula Grande.

3. 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?

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

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

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

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

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

9. Joe describes the beginning of their practice climb on Yantauri as 'inauspicious' (p24). Why?

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

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?

Essay Topic 2

In "Ten Years On", Joe includes an excerpt from Simon's book "Against the Wall", in which Simon describes the rope as representing a "powerful symbol of trust and friendship". Cite examples in the book that support or refute this notion. Is the climber's rope simply a safety measure or, as Simon suggests, symbolic of a powerful life-and-death bond of trust between men on the mountain?

Essay Topic 3

The Prologue of the book is the quote by T.E. Lawrence, preceding the first chapter. Why do you think the author chose this excerpt? What do you think it means? How is it significant? What does it have to do with the story?

(see the answer keys)

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