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.

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