Question – describe at least one important technique used in the written text explain how this technique helped you to understand one or more key ideas.
In “touching the void” by joe simpson different language techniques are used in order to help the reader understand key ideas presented within the text and to give insight of the different perspectives of the characters. One of the language techniques used to help understand these key ideas was symbolism which can be seen throughout the text. the use of symbolism also shows the values and quality which relate to real world situations.
Throughout the text “touching the void” the rope is used as symbolism. This is first shown when the text explains Simons memory of a past climbing experience where him and his climbing partner, Ian Whitaker, decide to sleep on an unstable mountain side and rely on their ropes to stay intact. At this stage of the text the rope is used as symbolism to present the ideas of: trust, reliance, and dependence. In the night the entire mountain side gives way and falls beneath them: “I felt myself drop swiftly… as I went plummeting down the 2,000 foot abyss below.” both simon and his climbing partner were saved by the rope that was connected to a rock. Simon and his partner hang there by only the rope until help came: “We hung on that fragile rope for twelve formidable hours.” if it wasn’t for the rope joe and ian would have fallen straight to their death. this memory is included in the text to help the reader understand that in this section of the text to simon the rope symbolises a friendship, trust and reliance. this memory is also included in the text as a way to foreshadow that later in the text simon and joe will find themselves in a difficult situation similar to what simon and ian experienced.
This language technique of symbolism is also shown later on in the text when joe and simon are descending the mountain and are attached to each other by the rope. A near death accident then happens when simon is walking on a large overhanging cornice which suddenly gives way: “There was no warning. No crack. One minute I was climbing, the next I was falling.” while simon falls he is saved by the rope which is attached to joe. the rope is again used to symbolise friendship and reliance. to the reader the rope also symbolises a life line because the rope is what saved simons life by preventing him from falling to his death, if the rope was not there he would of lost his life. since they are attached to each other, the rope also represents connection because if one of them falls the other will most likely fall with them, this to the reader also portrays the idea that the rope is also somewhat of a death-line because of their connection to each other could potentially cause not only the person to fall to die but both of them.
Further on in the text when simon and joe start the real descent of the mountain the rope is portrayed in a different way to the beginning of the text. simon and joe are put in a life threatening position where joes life is placed in simons hands and relies on the rope to stay alive. joes ice axe slips as he is climbing down a large ice wall, he falls landing with his knees locked shattering his right knee, described by joe: “Both knees locked as I struck it. I felt a shattering blow in my knee, felt bones splitting, and screamed.” the symbolism of connection between joe and simon representing a deathline is presented to reader again bye including joes thought: “Simon would be ripped off the mountain.” helping the reader understand that once again if one climber falls the other will fall with them. joe having a broken leg is now more than likely to die. simon makes the decision to try save joe by lowering him down the rest of the mountain using the rope. while joe is being lowered joe is experiencing extreme pain because his leg keeps catching edges. the rope symbolises to the reader the idea of high risk but high reward, the risk being joes excruciating pain and the reward staying alive.
Near the end of the descent the climax of the text is reached where joe is lowered off a cliff face and his hanging there by nothing but the rope, which was foreshadowed earlier in the text. simon is left at the top of the rope to make a life changing descion for both himself and joe. through simons perspective the rope symbolises a burden and a now unwanted connection, with joe on the end of the rope now also becoming a burden. simon could no longer bare to hold joes weight any longer : “I couldn’t hold the weight much longer.” he doesnt know what to do, he knows that if he holds on any longer he will fall with joe. then suddenly a thought comes to mind : “The knife. The thought came out of nowhere. Of course, the knife. Be quick, come on get it.” he then made the descion to cut the rope in hope that he sacrficed joes life so that he was able to save his own life. this use of the rope symbolising a burden helps the reader understand why simon made the decsion he made and that it is in human nature to value someones own life over someone elses as soon as they become somewhat of a burden to you no matter how strong the friendship or connection is.
The rope in “Touching the Void” symbolizes a connection between two me , Joe and Simon, which they rely on to deal with difficult situations they find themselves in. This symbolism teaches the reader that the men use the rope as a sign of connection, accountability, and friendship. However, later in text things change when joes life is at risk. the rope becomes a connection which is unwanted, and the joe on the end of the rope becomes a burden which is potentially life threatening to simon. The reader learns through this use symbolism that the rope is equally valuable as the person who is prepared to hold on to it. That if that person makes the decision to place their own life as more valuable than someone else’s, changing from a positive connection at the start of the text to a negative connection towards the end, the rope has now become useless. Although Joe didn’t die in this difficult situation, it is disturbing and somewhat frightening to the reader that Simon was prepared to make a decision that would more the likely sacrifice joes life in order to save his own.