10th August 2018


Describe at least one important technique used in the written text. Explain how this technique helped you understand one or more key ideas.

In the text touching the void, The author Joe Simpson uses language techniques to help convey the story and give a deeper insight into what is going through his mind. Symbolism can be seen throughout the book and represents key ideas and quality’s that relate back to the real world.

The rope was used throughout the text “Touching The Void” as a form of symbolism. During the beginning of the text when the men are descending down the mountain, Simon is faced with a near disaster when he falls through an overhanging cornice. Luckily the rope saves him from plummeting further as Joe is on the other side of the ridge acting as a counterweight. As the reader we hear narration from Simon, “There was no warning. No crack. One minute I was climbing, the next I was falling.” Joe also says, “I shivered at the thought of what had happened, if I had moved up with him-it would have taken both of us.” These quotes show us that without the rope connecting the two men and acting as a safety line the chances of someone getting severely hurt or even dying are very high. Along with a symbol of safety, the rope is seen as a form of trust and friendship as it is connecting the men together as a life line. Because of the rope we learn that the men must have an immense amount of trust in each others abilities, as one false move could lead to the death of both men. The rope is viewed as an essential piece of equipment that every mountaineer would see as a no brainer when climbing.

The rope isn’t just portrayed as a symbol of trust. In fact, just after Simon has recovered from his near tragic fall he remembers a terrible accident that he witnessed first hand in the French Alps. “Two Japanese climbers had fallen to their deaths from close to where he stood…He had seen the falling leader jerk and twist and, without a sound, pull his partner into the void…The two men plunged down, roped together, helpless.” This shows that Simon is worried that the same thing could possibly happen to Joe and himself. In this section of the text the rope is portrayed as a potential issue and a burden which is likely to come back and haunt the men. The reader can now clearly see the instantaneous change in the ropes symbolization. The rope has now turned from a safety-line into a death-line within a split second as Simon has just realized the true extent of the problem they are facing.

This becomes a reality when Joe falls and shatters his knee during the beginning of the descent. Simon is now faced with a tough decision: he could leave Joe and make it down the mountain alive, or he could stay and attempt to rescue Joe by himself. Simon chooses to stay and together they come up with a plan to lower Joe down the mountain. They use the rope to lower Joe 150 meters at a time and repeat this process over and over. At this point in the text the rope for Joe is his savior. Without it, he would have most likely been left to die by Simon. On the other hand for Simon, the rope symbolizes a burden with a dead weight on the other end. “In a way I hoped he would fall…I had no idea how I might help him. I could get down. If I tried to get him down I might die with him.” This quote shows that Joe is seen as a helpless problem, and that Simon is having mixed thoughts about whether he should save Joe or save himself. In this section of text the reader learns that it is simply human nature to want to save yourself, but it takes courage and a lot of guts to put others lives first, and even though Simon knew that if he tried to help he would most likely die alongside Joe, he stayed because it was the right thing to do.

A death-sentence, or a life-line. A burden, or a savoir. The rope is portrayed throughout the text as a symbol of good and bad, life and death. We learn from the book touching the void that the rope has a much deeper meaning than just a tool used from climbing. In Fact the rope portrays many valuable lessons that relate back into human nature. Through these language techniques we are able to imagine a more indepth and comprehensive understanding of what the author is trying to portray in the text Touching The Void.

Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. Daniel, this essay needed to be completed earlier this week. Please let me know if you have any questions about this task.

  2. Hi Daniel. Well done for explaining the significance of the rope across sections of the texts.
    Some thoughts after reading your essay:
    – Complete each of your points by relating back to the essay topic (especially the “key ideas”) that the reader learns. Some of these final statements seem a little underdeveloped: E.g. “The rope is viewed as an essential piece of equipment that every mountaineer would see as a no brainer when climbing.”
    – Your conclusion could be more specific to include the actual ideas/lessons that you have presented in your essay.
    * Please speak with me if you have any questions.


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