Touching the Void Essay

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


The book that inspired the movie with the same name, “Touching the Void” written by Joe Simpson which is a survival story of Joe and his climbing partner, Simon Yates that enthralls you by constantly making you question whether the 2 climbers will complete their expedition with their lives. In this book, there are many items that are symbolic of Joe and Simon and their connection together, these symbols are the focal point of my essay.

Siula Grande, the mountain that Joe and Simon scaled the west face of, is symbolic of human ambition, regardless of how hard nature tries to prevent humans from reaching certain places, humans will always stubbornly try and eventually succeed. Joe himself even believes this when he says “If you succeed with one dream…it’s not long before you’re conjuring up another, slightly harder, a bit more ambitious, a bit more dangerous” Joe had climbed before and as he grew more confident in his climbing ability  he started to become more and more ambitious wanting to overcome more and more and as this continued, he believed he could overcome a mountain face that others had attempted and failed, Joe didn’t see the fact that more experienced climbers had failed the journey as a warning, he saw it as a challenge, he wanted to be known as one of the men that had done the impossible. He allowed his aspirations to cloud his judgment, and after he had broken his leg he realized this, saying the quote that I mentioned earlier.

The rope that Simon used to lower Joe down the mountain is a symbol of the strong bond and the trust that the two climbers had forged together, as they got further down the mountain to the point where the slope began to steepen to a drop, the situation came where Joe was on the end of the rope and over a cliff face, he was helpless and couldn’t do anything but hang off the rope and yell, hoping that Simon would hear him, to no avail. meanwhile, Simon was at the other end of the rope, wondering what was happening,  Simon’s seat in the snow began to weaken and slowly gave way, the weight of Joe pulling him down closer and closer to the edge, Simon could only do one of two things, one of which was to keep struggling without any outcome, thus both climbers potentially falling to their death, the second option, sacrifice Joe in order to save his own life, take one life to save another and live with the guilt of being the reason that your partner died, Simon decided to cut the rope that tethered Joe to him, severing their trust and their companionship, once Simon had found Joe alive and returned to the world, Simon was criticized for doing what in his mind was the most rational decision, cutting the rope. “Some would argue that there was no decision to be made; that cutting the rope and the powerful symbol of trust and friendship it represents should never have entered my mind. Others say that it was simply a matter of survival.”

The Voice that Joe mentions and the Void of the crevasse when he was hanging off of the ice bridge are both symbolic of polar opposite things, the voice is Joe’s driving force once he is separated from Simon, it’s symbolic of his will to live. on the other end of the spectrum, the Void underneath Joe when he is hanging off of the ice bridge is symbolic of death. Once Joe realizes that the only way to go is down, and he begins to lower himself, this moment is representative of Joe accepting his death, he never knew if there would be anything for him down there, but he lowers anyway, knowing that he could’ve died for doing so, he accepted that and even when he had practically given up and lost all hope, he kept lowering himself down as far as he could before finding the small sheet of ice that he managed to crawl across which lead to his escape from the crevasse.

In this essay, I believe to have provided sufficient evidence of these items having their own symbolic meaning, Siula Grande being symbolic of ambition, the rope being symbolic of trust and the bond between Joe and Simon and the Voice and the Void representing life and death. There were many symbols in “Touching the void” written by Joe Simpson, these were just a small handful of them.

Symbolism planning

Symbolism In Touching The Void:

The Climbing rope is symbolic of the bond and trust that Simon and Joe had with one another and it was cut, the tie that the two men had between one another was severed.


The mountain is symbolic of human ambition, regardless of how hard nature tries to prevent them from reaching the places, humans will always stubbornly try and eventually succeed.


The burning of the clothes was symbolic of Simon fully believing that Joe was dead and that the burning of his clothes was a send-off to his climbing partner that he did the impossible with.


The voice is symbolic of Joe’s will to live, telling him how to get out of the situation with his life. A contrast of this is when Joe is in the crevasse he talks about the void, the void is symbolic of death and the light entering the crevasse has the same purpose as the voice that Joe talks about as his driving force.


The gas that Joe and Simon used to cook their food and melt snow into water is symbolic of their optimism in their ability of scaling the face of the mountain safely, as they began, they were in belief that they could succeed, as they continued and encountered more and more obstacles they began to doubt themselves, much like the gas and how they used it over time it depleted and when the gas ran out, so did their belief that their skills could keep them safe.


Key symbolic quotes:

“If you succeed with one dream…it’s not long before you’re conjuring up another, slightly harder, a bit more ambitious, a bit more dangerous”


“I felt the menace surrounding me…This was not the playground we had walked into so long ago.”


Shakespearean QUOTE: “Ay but to die and go we know not where; To lie in cold obstruction and to rot;…To bathe in fiery floods or to reside/In thrilling region of thick-ribbed ice…That age, ache, penury, and imprisonment/Can lay on nature is a paradise/To what we fear of death” This soliloquy is taken from the play Measure for Measure, in which Claudio is condemned to death for making a woman pregnant out of wedlock. Like Joe, he faces death for seeking pleasure in doing something he knew was dangerous.


“Some would argue that there was no decision to be made; that cutting the rope and the powerful symbol of trust and friendship it represents should never have entered my mind. Others say that it was simply a matter of survival.”


“I couldn’t bring myself to dispense with the comforting reassurance of the rope.”


“I had to get things straight in my own mind before i could return… The healing process had started… I searched round the tent looking for the medicine box. It lay partly hidden by some of Joe’s clothes at the back of the tent. I threw it onto the grass outside and then sifted through his things, After fifteen minutes there was a pile of clothes and possessions lying in the sun by the medicines… I turned the pile of possessions and began sorting through them. I found his used film and zoom a lens in a plastic bag. It was a large bag so I gathered all the things I wanted to give to his parents and put them in as well… He fetched some petrol and we burnt the clothes in the river bed.”


“I remained outside hacking at the slope with the adze of my ice ax filling plastic garbage bags with frozen shards and distributing the ice to the tents for melting” into thin air page 151


“Due to the pronounced dehydration that was an inevitable by-product of heavy breathing in such desiccated air, each of us consumed more than a gallon  of liquid every day.” Into thin air page 151

How Video Games Can Be Beneficial

Before I get to my introduction, what’s the first image that comes to your mind when I say gamer? due to stereotyping, you’re probably thinking of an overweight middle-aged man in their mother’s basement eating pizza and drinking soda. What if I told you that the definition of being a “gamer” is only by playing video games for 4+ hours in a week, that means that you’re only playing video games for roughly 45 mins a day, put that into the comparison of how much media (Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook etc) the average teenager consumes, it doesn’t seem like a whole lot. 9 hours is how much media the average teenager consumes daily. Today I am here to inform you of all the good things that gaming can do for you and maybe dispell some common misconceptions about the topic.

Having faster reaction times in life could be the difference between life and death. say for example you’re driving through town and a child walks out onto the road and doesn’t notice you, the faster your reaction time, the more likely that child is to walk away from that situation with no injuries. There are many games that require your reaction timing to be fast in order to beat your opponent. The video game “For Honor” is a great example of a competitive game where victory is based on reacting to your opponent’s movements and countering them with your own down to the nearest 50 milliseconds. You could probably imagine that reactions like that must be ridiculous and that gaming has nothing to do with that, but Washington state university conducted an experiment on the reaction times between gamers and non-gamers and recorded their results. non-gamer reaction times were averaged around 400 milliseconds, while the reaction time of gamers was around 300, although that may not seem huge, in the real world, going back to my previous example, that could be the difference between succeeding to prevent injury or failing.

The ability to communicate with others is unquestionably useful. whether working on a group project for school or just simply socializing with others, communication is key. I’m sure everyone in the class has played or at least heard of the ever-popular video game that has taken the world by storm, Fortnite. For those of you who somehow haven’t heard of the battle-royale phenomenon, it is a game that puts you up against 99 other players all fighting to be the last one standing, it gives you the option to team up with 3 others against other teams of 4. Communicating with your team and coordination with one another will allow you to dominate the un-coordinated teams with little to no effort. The University of Glasgow conducted an investigation with regards to the effect of playing video games on communication skills, they took a small group of students and asked them to play a total of 2 hours per week over an 8 week period, playing games that they were given “loosely defined” objectives in games that required the students to communicate. they were psychometric tests relating to communication skill in weeks 1 and 8 in order to measure their progress. there was a supposedly 95% increase in communication skills of the students.

You cannot go through your life without making some sort of decision. Multiple tests have been conducted by the likes of the University of London and the University of Nottingham on the effect of gaming on short-term and long-term decision making. The University of Nottingham tested the effect of video games on 12 adults that had disabilities that inhibited their decision-making skills. 6 in the control that didn’t play games, 6 in the intervention that played games like The Witcher 3 where the decisions you make through the game affect the ending you receive while there are three possible endings. They reported a significant increase in decision making over the 10 week period from the intervention group. While the University of London tested the effect of similar games on decision making and along with the increase in the ability to make the correct decision, they were found to be less susceptible to biases than other people.

In conclusion, I believe to have provided sufficient evidence that video games can be beneficial in developing your decision making, communication skills, and reaction timing. The hobby is becoming more and more popular with competitive tournaments even being aired on sports channels such as ESPN and Sky Sports. because of this and phenomenon such as Fortnite getting attention from the mainstream media after recently acquiring a player base of 40 million users worldwide to put that into perspective, that’s more than the population of 198 countries in the world. I hope to have changed the way that you view people who play video games in a positive way. Thanks for listening to what I have to say.

Chapter 9

The light in the text symbolic of Joe’s hope of surviving the situation. When the beam of light broke through the surface above Joe, he saw a way out of the crevasse, although a difficult one. The light illuminating the wall of loose snow was essentially telling Joe that the wall was the only way of surviving the encounter. “The Voice” that Joe speaks of as he was planning his route to get to the glacier is his will to live. The Voice wasn’t present as Joe was hanging from the ice bridge because he was ready to fall to the bottom of the crevasse, ending his pain. as he began to lower himself and he was scared of the unknown of the void, the voice urged him to lower further, in case there was a chance of survival, thus he found the floor of ice suspended above a fall to the bottom of the crevasse. after managing to climb up a wall of loose powder snow, while he was planning his route to the glacier, he described the voice as “clean, sharp and commanding” and “always right” leading him to follow every order that it gave him; “the voice told me exactly how to go about it, and I obeyed while my other mind jumped abstractly from one idea to another.”

Chapter 8

“I stared at the mountain rising over me. Empty. It was a pointless thing to have done – climb up it, across it, and down it. Stupid! It looked perfect; so clean and untouched, and we had changed nothing, It was beautiful, immaculate, but it left me empty. I had been on it too long, and it had taken everything.”

Simon personifies the mountain by saying that it had taken everything from him. He says that the mountain is immaculate, perfect and beautiful and that they had defaced it by climbing it, and in return, it had taken Joe.

The tone of the passage is somber, the emphasis on Simon being empty, he almost wants to forget about the events over the last week, trying his best not to look back at the thing that took everything from him creates a dark tone.

“It was a lonely place to rest. In the huge chaos of the moraines, I had sat down to rest at the one spot where I would be reminded. We and sat in the same spot six days earlier. All our keen excitement and the healthy strong feel in our bodies had become an empty memory.”

The mood of the passage is set by the word lonely. Simon was thinking back when he and Joe were at the same location just six days earlier, it made him feel alone, isolated, making the mood negative.

The tone of the passage is sorrowful, Simon is almost mourning the loss of Joe. He feels alone and lost, using the words empty and chaos to describe his thoughts and perceptions.

Chapter 7 “Shadows in the ice”

Part 1:

Contrast is used in the text because of how Joe’s brain processed the situation. He was certain that death would claim him and Simon, to the point that he was at the point where he was on the edge of giving up and succumbing to the cold, accepting his death, with his only worry being that he wished for someone to find him or Simon and somehow know that they climbed the west face.
Part 2:

As Simon cuts the rope, in an effort to save himself, he hoped that Joe was close enough to the ground so that he wouldn’t fall and injure himself more or even to his death. The symbolic meaning of Simon cutting the rope in order to same himself severs his ties to Simon, When Joe realizes this when he tugs on the rope only to find that it’s been cut, he loses hope in Simon.

Joe begins lowering himself deeper into the crevasse Simply because he had no hope that he’d survive the situation, leading him to reach the conclusion to lower himself into the void.

Chapter 5 “Disaster” (Climax)

The writing styles and techniques include short sentences to add punch and intensity to the situation. The descriptive language of when Joe injures his knee is designed to get the readers to cringe at the thought of that happening and what it may look like.

The purpose of interviewing Simon about his thoughts and emotions when Joe breaks his leg is because it’s the most climactic moment in the whole book, making it important to get both perspectives of the men. This means that Joe, the narrator speaks from an all-seeing first person point of view (omniscient)

If I were in Joe’s position, I don’t know if I would be able to do what Joe did or if I were able to, I don’t know how calmly I could operate. I don’t know if I would be able to shift my attention from the searing pain from my leg to my own survival. However, I may have a good chance as I’ve dealt with broken, sprained and hyperextended bones, but nothing to the extent of Joe’s experience.

Chapter 4 “On The Edge” Symbolism

Use of the pun language feature in the title
The term “on edge” is used to describe someone who is visibly anxious or cautious about their actions repercussions, this term could also be used to literally describe someone or something that is on the edge of a sheer drop, such as a mountain. this pun perfectly describes Joe and his emotions in the chapter.

There are hints of symbolism scattered throughout the duration of the book, such as the subtle reference of the gas stove running out is symbolic of the two climbers running out of hope that their journey will end with them reaching their base camp safely

What’s Included?

There’s a quite clear image of them being at one of the camps up the climb while one is suffering from frostbite, evidenced by the narrator mentioning their “blackened fingertips”. There is a slight mention of the narrator’s disdain for large cities and prefers the solitude of the mountains.

The narrator uses language such as “damaged” and “blackened” to make their problem sound more impactful. They also use enthralled to describe how attached to the mountains they are, and we know this because the definition of enthralling is to captivate the attention or fascination of someone or something.

Goals for Level 1 English 2018

My main goal for this course is to pass with merit. I will do so by contributing to class conversations, listening to everyone’s opinion even if for whatever reason I don’t agree with it whilst also challenging them with my own facts and opinions.