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

Techniques: symbolism -the rope

joe simpson the author of touching the void who has many close calls while climbing the mountain of Siula Grande.

significant connection is the rope. the rope shows a symbolism as it is the connection between the two men while climbing the mountain facing many life threatening sentences.

Symbolism is firstly shown in the text when they are on the ascent and they have to hang together on the same rope for long periods of time as well as climbing up the west face with many other obstacles. while Simon and Joe are bivvied on what seems to be a good snow cave Joe has a flashback of the time he was climbing with a man named Ian whittaker. They had a near death experience when their snow cave they were in broke away and they fell 2000 feet down the side of the wall they were luckily attached to. Joe and Ian were rescued later that day after hanging of the side of the mountain in the french alps for 12 hours. For example, the text states “we hung on that fragile rope for twelve formidable hours”. This tells the reader the two men were always connected together meaning if one fell so would the other. Ian did not climb again resulting from this incident but Joe’s desire was to carry on to climb again. This means joe must trust simon just like he trusted Ian. Simon and Joe must trust each other and must rely on each other while climbing. The men must have huge amounts of trust for each other through the rope, as climbing there are many times throughout the text the men must make life or death decisions.

symbolism is also used when they are on the descent climbing down the, Joe and Simon climb together and connected by the rope. meaning if one falls so does the other so they must rely on each other to stay alive with huge amount of trust and accountability. For example the “the ropes ran unchecked through my wet icy gloves for a few feet then tugged sharply at my harness”. this was when simon falls a through a cornice but since he is connected to joe with the rope he is not harmed as he only falls so far. simon would have possibly died but due to the rope he survived. another example is “when he did finally stop, he was hanging in space. this shows how the connection between the men is the rope and it is the one thing that keep them both alive as simon is dangling in air only to be sitting there attached and alive by a rope, rather then plunging deep down into the void.

For example, the text also states “the image of us two falling helplessly down the East Face, still roped together, had all too nearly came true” this shows the men are always attached by the rope in every situation.

A good contrast is when the rope symbolises a death connection when joe has a horrible fall and shatters his knee at the start of the descent.

Joe falls on the descent slipping down side of the face he was on and shatters his knee . Simon decides to help joe to get down the mountain rather than just leaving him to die. joe is in immense pain but simon can do nothing but get him down the mountain as fast as he can. simon must lower joe down the mountain using the rope. simon starts to lower joe rapidly down the mountain as joe is yelling to stop as his knee is in extreme pain but simon has one goal to get joe down the mountain before the weather closes in. they way joe is lying his shattered knee is bashing against the slope creating more pain for joe to deal with.

This positive connection is also important when (lowering) this is when simon is lowering joe connected to the same rope and simon has all of joes weight on him. joe is digging seats for simon who is getting colder and colder as he is not being active. Joe is now becoming a burden from tiredness of endless lowering as he is only dead weight and he can not help himself anymore.

while lowering joe down the mountain the rope is the only thing keeping joe alive as simon has joes life in his hands while connected but just the rope simon is having trouble as joes weight is to much for him a joe has fallen over the edge and is know dangling in mid air. simon starts to feel the weight is to heavy and he cant pull joe backup over the edge. simon then realises he has a knife. For example, the text states “I couldn’t hold the weight much longer” and “The knife. The thought came out of nowhere. Of course, the knife. Be quick, come on get it.” This tells the reader that joe and simon are attached like a umbilical cord. however simon acted at this point it affected Joe. Joe was dead weight to simon. every decision was for simon now as joe had no control over what to do. the knife was like a inner conscious telling simon what to do e.g “come on get it”. this is simon’s inner conscious speaking, saying he should cut the rope, the knife is right here convincing him to cut the rope as he must make the choice over his life or Joes.

A more important example of where the rope is a dangerous connection is when simon cuts the rope and the connection between Simon and Joe is split. Simon had cut the friendship and accountability just like that without a second thought.”it needed no pressure. The taut rope exploded at the touch of the blade” and “his weight had gone from me”. this was the moment where simon cuts the rope the is the connection between the to men sending joe plunging through a crevasse. joe lands on a ledge still alive inside the crevasse. joe fixes himself to the wall with an ice screw and the rope.

simon thinks he has killed joe but he has actually saved him in a way as joe would have died from the cold anyway as joe was sitting on the rope hanging over the crevasse feeling as though he was going to die from the cold. simon instantly feels as though joe is dead as he felt joes weight leave him. He cut the valuable rope that has saved the men’s lives multiple times putting his life in front of joe’s rather than both of them free falling down into the crevasse together.

the rope in “touching the void” symbolizes the trust connection between the two men through the rope. this gives the reader information that the rope is connection, accountability and trust. although when one of the climbers are in extreme danger the rope becomes a unwelcomed connection and the climber becomes a burden. the rope is only as valuable as the person who is ready to hold it. if the person chooses their life over anothers the rope then becomes useless. even though Joe survived this incident from Simon’s decision, Simon showed how he was ready to sacrifice his friends life to save himself.

Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. Weston, this is a great essay! Well done for making multiple personal judgments about why the rope is important (what it teaches the reader through different sections). Because this essay is quite long, you may have to edit some of the sections where you describe the story, rather than give specific quotations.
    Also, because you give multiple examples for each of the points, you may be able to remove some of your “weaker” examples in this discussion.
    * Speak with me if you have any questions.


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