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