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 call their melted-snow drinks?

2. How does Joe describe Simon's eyes?

3. How do Peruvian flutings contrast to European flutings?

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

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

Short Essay Questions

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

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

3. Describe the Peruvian family that lives in the huts.

4. 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?

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

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

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

8. 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?

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

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

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 2

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?

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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