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 Simon insist that Joe not do on this trip?

2. What is a "Friend"?

3. What does Joe assume Simon will do when he finds out that he has broken his leg?

4. How does Joe compare his fitness with Simon's?

5. What device does Joe wish they had in their possession as they descend from the summit of Siula Grande?

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

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

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

5. 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?

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

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

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

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

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

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

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?

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

Why do Joe and Simon work so well together? What qualities does Simon possess that are attractive to Joe? Would things have turned out differently (either better or worse) if Joe would have had a different partner?

(see the answer keys)

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