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 does Joe try to use to climb up the rope?

2. Joe notes that some of the icicles are as thick as...

3. On what mountain range do two climbers witness the deaths of two other climbers?

4. Joe recalls an incident with climber Ian Whittaker in which country?

5. When thinking about being left on the mountain, Joe feels himself "teetering on the edge of..."

Short Essay Questions

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

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. While trying to find the North Ridge again after leaving the summit, what happens to Simon?

4. 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?

5. 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?

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

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

8. 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?

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

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

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

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?

Essay Topic 3

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?

(see the answer keys)

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