In the Far Distance – Chapter 9

1.) Symbolism is a language technique that is significant to the text in chapter 9 – In the Far Distance.

In literature symbolism is a object, person or situation that has more than its literal definition. Joe utilizes this symbolic technique of symbolism with the word selection of ‘light’ which is very important to the text as it portrays hows Joe perceives the ‘light’ in his current situation.

The text “A pillar of gold light beamed diagonally from a small hole in the roof, spraying bright reflections off the far wall of the crevasse. I was mesmerized by this beam of sunlight burning through the vaulted ceiling from the real world outside. It had me so fixated that I forgot about the uncertain floor below and let myself down the rest of the rope. I was going to reach that sun beam. I knew it then with absolute certainty” demonstrates the symbolism of the ‘light’ perceived by Joe.

Being the reader I understand from this text that the symbol of the ‘light’ does not only mean the literal meaning, but for Joe the light gives a sense of hope, life and optimism that there is a chance for him to escape the death defying  situation he is currently in.  Evidence in the passage that convinces me of this second meaning is the current positive tone of Joe when describing the light. He uses a variety of positive words and phrases such as ‘A pillar of gold light beamed’ and ‘spraying bright reflections off the far wall of the crevasse’. Emotive language is also implemented to describe the positive tone of how Joe perceives the light with the selected text of “I was mesmerized by this beam of sunlight”. As the current reader with my knowledge, experiences and biases, the selected word of mesmerized creates and imagery in my mind of my past experiences when confronted with a never before seen beautiful environment such as the Milford Sound creating a disbelief in my mind. Sentence structure/syntax also presents to me the second meaning of the ‘light’ because Joe uses complex sentences to portray the positive tone such as  “A pillar of gold light beamed diagonally from a small hole in the roof, spraying bright reflections off the far wall of the crevasse’. Also I perceive that the symbol of ‘light’ presents a significant feature which is that hope/optimism presents motivation. I gain this sense of feeling because of the short, sharp and statement simple sentences of  “I was going to reach that sun beam” and “I knew it then with absolute certainty”.

2.) Another use of the language technique of symbolism is with the consistent back chat between Joe and the ‘voice’. This is again significant to the text in chapter 9 – In the Far Distance.

The symbolic meaning of the ‘voice’ has a big role in presenting Joe’s mental and emotional state currently in this section of his journey.

It is revealed in the text “A voice in my head told me that this was true, cutting through the jumble in my mind with its coldly rational sound. If was as if there were two minds within me arguing the toss. The voice was clean and sharp and commanding. It was always right, and I listened to it when it spoke and acted on its decisions. The other mind rambled out a disconnected series of images, and memories and hopes, which I attended to in a daydream state as I set about obeying the orders of the voice. ” the symbolic meaning of the voice and conflicting between Joe’s ‘two minds’.

The symbolism used in the passage of the ‘voice’ presents to me as the reader that the ‘voice’ is the logical, calming and responsible mind commanding Joe’s actions and decisions when in moments of need.  As the reader I interpret this by the descriptions, statements and word selection of the voice such as “The voice was clean and sharp and commanding” “It was always right” and I listened to it when it spoke and acted on its decisions”. Personification is also used to show that the voice in Joe’s mind acts like a higher ranked, trusted second opinion almost as if the voice was Simon. Being the reader I perceive the ‘voice’ in Joe’s mind to be like Simon as at the beginning stages of the climb Joe has a very low self esteem perceiving Simon to be his idol but also Simon barely varies his syntax and only uses commanding statements of simple sentences and minor sentences such as “Done it” “No more fluting” and “Come up.” Also as the reader with my experiences I perceive this voice to also be a companion who influences my decisions as I self talk to myself when alone and confronted with a situation of a high amount of stress or failure.  The personification used in the text to portray to readers that the voice is commanding is with the phrase ” I listened to it when it spoke” even though the voice could not speak. Revealed in the text I also am able to see a conflict between the ‘voice’ and the other mind. I perceive this as the other mind fixates on memories/experiences that relate to the situation he is in or concludes to finding the likely outcome of the situation. Evidence that supports my understanding is with the sentence of”The other mind rambled out a disconnected series of images, and memories and hopes, which I attended to in a daydream state as I set about obeying the orders of the voice.”

Sentence Syntax

Simple Sentence

A group of words, including a verb, that makes sense on its own. Simple sentences are commonly used to describe a single idea. Example: The student asked a question.

Compound Sentence

Two or more main clauses (simple sentences) joined together with a conjunction or separated by a semi colon. A compound sentence gives us more information than a simple sentence by developing a basic idea. Example: The student asked a question and the teacher answered it.

Complex Sentence

One main clause joined to one or more subordinate clauses. A writer uses a complex sentence to express an idea that requires more elaboration. Example: The student asked a question when he had a problem with his classwork.

Compound-Complex Sentence 

Two or more main clauses linked to one or more subordinate clauses. Example: The student asked a question and the teacher answered it because the teacher knew the student needed help.

Minor Sentence

A sentence without a completed verb that is often used in emphasis. Many common greetings are also minor sentences. Minor sentences are commonly found in advertising as they give fast paced, less formal tone. Examples: Hello, Never in a million years

Silent Witness – Chapter 8

1.) Mood and tone is significant to the selected text of Silent Witness – Chapter 8.

Mood refers to the atmosphere (or feelings) which Joe creates in a passage of writing. Where as tone refers to the attitude of the writer which Joe describes towards what is happening in the passage.  Moods and Tones are significant to the text because it shows the reader the atmosphere of the mood that Joe is in and what Joe’s presents to the mood with his attitudes and feelings which is tone. These moods and tones are illustrated by Joe’s use of word selection, language techniques and sentence structures/syntax.

A selected text that demonstrates the importance of the use of moods and tones is “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.” 

As the reader I interpret this passage of mood illustrated by Joe to be that the mountain is grande, still, untouched and perfect. I understand this mood from the text because of Joe’s word selection of beautiful, immaculate and clean which creates to me a image that the atmosphere of the snow is bright, silky and flawless. However the tone that Joe presents in the readers understanding is that Joe portrays a frustrated attitude towards the mood because Joe feels that all the hard work he has accomplished on this mountain has left no evidence of his hard work. I visualize this because of the word selection in the phrases ‘It was pointless’ ‘we had changed nothing’. Also as the reader I perceive that Joe’s frustration has built up from his low self esteem as Joe is on the verge of death and feels like if he dies he will be worthless as individuals will look towards the mountain and see that Joe has conquered nothing.  As the reader I also understand from the text that Joe’s tone to the text is he feels drained as he feels he has invested his blood, sweat, tears and time on this mountain for to long and has gained no sense of accomplishment.  I understand this with the phrases ‘it left me empty’ ‘I had been on it to long’. I also perceive this by the language technique used of personification with the selected test ‘it had taken everything’ as Joe feels that the mountain a non living physical object had stole everything Joe had possessed like a human presence.

2.)Another text that implements moods and tones is “This place was ageless and lifeless. A mass of snow, and ice, and rock slowly moving upwards; freezing, thawing, cracking asunder, always chasing with the passing of centuries. What a silly thing to pit oneself against!” 

As the reader I understand from this text that the mood described by Joe is lonely and timeless. I envision this with imagery portrayed by the word selection of ageless and lifeless. This image is encountered as the reader can visualize no other organism of life which due to my experiences of being alone presents me to the emotive language of loneliness which I can only picture Joe feeling the same way.  Also the mood of timeless pops to mind due to the word selection of ageless. Because of my personal perception, the first thing that springs to mind from the word ageless is the age of people. And as the age of people increases the look of them changes. However in this case the mountain is ageless meaning it doesn’t look significantly different or changes over time therefore bringing up the mood of timeless as time passes by without anything changing. As the reader I also understand the tone Joe presents to the text which is he feels ashamed and stupid. This is because Joe describes the mountain to be superior by selecting words like ageless but also stating the processes the mountain undertakes that cannot be stopped unlike himself. Joe also uses figurative language of personification to show how the mountain cannot be stopped as if it were ageless. The text states ‘always chasing with the passing of centuries’ as if the mountain could perform a human action of chasing. As the reader I also perceive the tone that Joe feels stupid and ashamed by the word selection of ‘silly’ in his final quote of “What a silly thing to pit oneself against!” This demonstrates to me that Joe feels stupid and ashamed to even try to conquer this near impossible climb. With my biases and experiences I also perceive that Joe feels this way as iv’e been in situations where at the beginning, I felt confident something was easy or possible but then attempted it and realized its not so easy with the skills I possessed, feeling stupid and embarrassed/ashamed when confronting the individual that I had said I could do it. A specific example of this was when I was the age of 8 thinking I could swim a length of 100metres, telling all of my friends I could do it with barely any swim lessons or expertise. However when attempting it I soon realized this was extremely difficult and failed feeling stupid and embarrassed in front of my friend gaining a low self esteem afterwards.


Shadows in the ice – Chapter 7

1.) Contrast is significant in the used sections of text. Joe describes his surroundings of the crevasse below him as the of the dark void of the inescapable end and the sky above him as the chance of existing life of light. The demonstrates the concept of contrast as both the crevasse and the sky described by Joe are of polar opposites which is why the contrast so significantly.

The selected text “the stark blackness of the drops, too deep for the light to penetrate…the black space held untold horrors….staring at the black hole in front of me….the dark spaces menaced” portrays the crevasse in Joe vision. However Joe contrasts these dark, horrific images with the descriptions of the night sky with: “small hole in the roof, where the sky was cloudless, packed with stars, and moonlight was adding its glow to their bright sparkle.”

The reader understands from Joe’s descriptions of the contrasting images of the crevasse and night sky is that Joe’s feelings are connected with the descriptions of the images. The reader also can visualize that when Joe is looking down towards the near impossible crevasse negative feelings present themselves as Joe can only think of the reality of the ‘odds’ of getting down the mountain. However when Joe looks towards the sky Joe presents himself with the thought of a glimmer of hope as it illustrates the event he has put himself in. This is because although the sky is mostly packed with clouds there is a small hole where you can see the stars. As the reader I perceive this to be an analogy of Joe’s situation as although things seem to unfavor survival there is still a glimmer of hope he will make it down.

2.) The rope in the text between Joe and Simon is significant as it symbolizes the connection and accountability that exists between Joe and Simon. However Joe’s hope disappears as well as the connection and accountability that exists between the rope as Joe no longer believes they are connected.

The text states ‘Maybe he heard me just then? He won’t leave unless he’s sure. How do you know he’s not dead already? Did he fall with me? Find out… pull the rope’ shows the constant questions asked by Joe in his mind and the selected text ‘So he must have hit the slope and stopped. He would be dead. He must be after that fall’ shows the conclusion Joe has come to after the pull.

The reader understands from Joe constant thoughts and before and after the pull of the rope is that before the pull of the rope hope still lingures between the connection and accountability of Joe and Simon on the rope. As the reader I perceive this because Joe constantly questions that there is still a possibility that Simon is still alive and tethered. But also because of Joe’s and Simon’s strong bonded relationship Joe cannot 100% believe that Simon is dead for certain until he see it for himself.  However after the pulling the rope testing if Simon is still alive and receives no response, Joe forces himself to believe that he is dead so that he can realize that he can’t rely on Simon no more and take action on his own.


Writing a formal response. (Point Paragraph)

State your point/topic (first point) : e.g Simon’s narration is significant in “Disaster – Chapter 5”

Expand with relevant background detail (second point) e.g Simon’s narration is told through Joe’s perspective, however Simon validated Joe’s account as “fair and correct”. Simon’s “voice” reveals that he represented Joe’s injury and that he felt justified in distancing himself from Joe.

Examples (specific) : e.g text states “…” The reader is told “…” It is revealed “…” Words like “…” The selected text “…” tells us “…” 

Response (your response). What does the reader learn? What does the reader think/visualize/feel? What connections can the reader make to other experiences or context? What is the overall purpose/message? e.g The reader understands from his narration that Simon is calculating the value of his life against Joe’s. He also treats the situation logically and considers the “odds” of their survival, if Joe is assisted down the mountain . This presents an interesting reality about human nature: Should we risk our own life for others? When does our relationship or commitment to a person end? It is excusable to relinquish responsibility when we are endangered ourselves. In the response line you can include a cross reference to a relevant situation, person, place, time… 

The Final Choice – Chapter 6

1.) There are many problems for the men when trying to descending the mountain they have just climbed. This problems include temperature, dehydration, Joe’s broken leg, time, environment and frost bite. The extreme temperature of the cold climate provides many issues for the men as for one the penetrating temperature can force death to occur as hypothermia can take place. This also leads the men to obtain frost bite in their fingers which consequently produces less feeling in their fingers meaning when the men are attempting tasks the completing of the task cannot be done or the accomplishment is dramatically slower.  A quote that presents the effect of frostbite was “It wasn’t until I tried to slip off my left wrist that I realized how useless my hand were. Both were frozen.” Another problem to men was dehydration. This was always in the back of the men’s mind since the gas cooker got exhausted of gas as without it there would be no melting in snow to drink. This is essential as water is one of the key foundations to support life and without it a human can only survive a maximum of 2 days with devastating effects along the way. The main dilemma was the dehydration affecting the men’s mental state which therefore produces hallucination, false statements and affects their decision making.  A quote that shows the effect of dehydration to Simon’s mental state was “I smelt the water in the snow around me and it maddened me.” To add another problem to the men was the climax of the journey so far which occurred to be Joe’s vital fall generating a broken leg. Having to endure a broken leg has to be the biggest problem faced for the men for multiple reasons. Firstly with Joe’s broken leg, this limits his physical ability of strength, balance and mobility affecting the completion of tasks when operating down the mountain. Secondly the pain furiously attacking Joe puts stress in Joe as physically he could perish from internal bleeding and mentally as the main subject on his mind is the conflicting pain. And thirdly for Simon physically he has to carry Joe’s weight which creates stress on his muscles losing more energy but mentally having to decide whether to abandon Joe or suffer and risk his own life saving a loved partner.  A quote that displays the fire burning pain that Joe is feeling because of his leg was “The pain had reached a level beyond which it wouldn’t go.”

2.) Joe uses structural syntax and narrative techniques to create a tension build up when getting lower into a drop or the ‘void’. Joe uses the punctuation of comma’s in simple sentences to create a pause and build up tension which emphasize the sentence. Joe will also add short passages of short sentences to create a rushed feeling. An example of this is with the quote “A hundred feet. Fifty? I had no idea.”

Joe  also includes foreshadowing in the text  to create tension which is where the author indicates or hints future events creating tension for the reader as the reader starts to anticipate the future event like what is going to happen, where is going to happen, how is it going to happen and who with. In this case Joe foreshadows that a negative event will take place due to the emotion and reaction when realizing that the speed he was getting lowered increase dramatically. The selected text “I’m going down fast but it’s steady. He’s trying to be quick … that’s all. I knew it to be true, but there was still something wrong.” implements the area of foreshadowing.  Me as the reader understands from Joe’s narration that although Joe felt like he knew what was going on, he still sensed a presences that something was not right.

“On the Edge” Chapter 4

1.) The chapter title ‘On the Edge’ represent the entire chapter by summarizing the events by the use of this language technique of a pun. A pun is a key word or phrase that when used in the right context has two or more meanings almost as a ‘play on words’. On the edge literally is defined as on the brink of an object which in this case is the men on the edge of the mountain. However the other meaning of the phrase perceived by others of ‘On the edge’ is that you are in a precarious position where you are in highly dangerous situation that doesn’t take much fault to lead you in a severe injury or even death.

2.) A language technique used by the author to create a mental, emotional or physical strain/tension is by the consistent use of foreshadowing. Foreshadowing is stating a feeling or prediction before the event has occurred. This is cleverly illustrated by the author in chapter 4 as it creates tension for the reader as the reader starts to get a immense sense of feeling that something bad is about to occur. An example of this is with the quote “We had been on the mountain for over fifty hours and perhaps had become attuned to potential threats; so much so that I had sensed something would happen without understanding quite what it would be”. This quote demonstrates foreshadowing as Joe has this ‘gut’ feeling that something unfortunate was coming however not knowing what it could be. This inserts a mental tension for readers as they have this sense that something bad is occurring but doesn’t know what or when it is going to happen.

Specialised Vocabulary, Chapter 3 : “Storm At The Summit”

1.) Authors use specialized vocabulary/jargon appropriately to reveal events, people, places and idea’s however it isn’t always explained in the text. This is because for one the author has created this book for a targeted audiences like their age, gender, interests, beliefs or religion. So the author assumes majority of the time that the reader understands the meaning of the word. Another reason why authors in non-fiction don’t explain technical jargon is because most of the time the specialized word is in context surrounded by words that many understand. A third reason why authors in non-fiction don’t explain the specialized jargon used is because the author wants the readers to picture the situation from their perspective and their experiences themselves.

2.) Traverse: to travel across or over. This is important to the text as it tells the reader the route that they are climbing up the mountain.

Summit: the highest point. This is important to the text as it shows that the top of the mountain is where there climbing towards as that is there goal and final destination before making there way back down.

Crampons: a climbing iron used especially on ice and snow in  mountaineering. This is important to the text as in context it tells the readers how the men are getting enough grip up the ice face.

Powder: soft snow. This is important to the text because powder refers to the soft snow indicating the environment.

Crevasse: a deep crevice or fissure. This important to the text as it show what environment is coming up ahead. It also is important as a crevasse has certain features that the climbers can use to an advantage or as a disadvantage.

TASK: Continue to read from pages 26-38 in “Touching the Void” by Joe Simpson

1.) Joe and Simon’s relationship demonstrates to me that they have very good chemistry and good team work when conquering this task of climbing up and down the summit of Sarapo. This is because they both consistently help each other out my communicating with each other, giving each other equipment(e.g screws)  and making sure each other is safe. This also shows me that they have a really strong connections as both are cautious in each others health as they couldn’t imagine a loyal friending passing away. An example of the passage from the quote “Rocks!” I yelled ducking down and away.” to “You okay.” shows me that Joe really cares for Simon as he screamed to warn Simon and has also asks if he is okay.  Both men are interdependent as they both need and relies on each other technically with knowledge and experiences to survive certain situations, having a physical presence to help in handing equipment, rationing food and strength power but also mentally to keep motivating each other to keep going and give each other company to almost say were in this together. This is a raw relationship.

2.) Through the text given I picture the environment to be very difficult but not impossible to conquer through the perspective of the men. This is because both are able to climb the mountain faces with rhythm without to much difficulty with especially Simon quite relaxed through Joe’s perspective. The described environment seems be very cold and extremely steep which amazes the men as they have never experience anything like it. A quote that demonstrates this to me is “Steep isn’t?” “Almost vertical, that bit on the bottom, ‘but the ice is brilliant!” “I’ll bet this is steeper than Droites.” The environment to the summit is extremely tall compared to the size of the men as the text constantly refers back to measurements of the mountain like “was a respectable 1,000 foot high wall which would have been a mountain in itself in the Dolomites.” However both men are not too panicked but still cautious when conquering certain life or death situations as they are first of all both very experienced mountaineers, they have a strong trust in each other to get them through a challenging situation but also they are both mentally prepared to accomplish their dream in the day. Especially for Joe as he bases his emotions through his experiences, in his eyes he must get to the summit. 

As a reader with my biases and beliefs I learn about one of Joe’s phobia’s during the the exhibition. Near the end of the chapter ‘Tempting Fate’ Joe flash backs to one of his bad past experiences when finding shelter Bonatti Pillar. Simon finding a ideal shelter for the night triggers Joe’s emotions as the situation feels similar to the one he had experienced at the climb of Bonatti Pillar in the French Alps. This therefore causes Joe to be very conscious of his surroundings he does not want history to repeat but this time end at a death. This is important to the text as it shows what Joe is feeling and why he is feeling this way and brings his experiences to context. As a reader with my biases and experiences I can totally relate being in a situation that I have been in before that did end so well last time. A language technique used to drag me in to what Joe was feeling was emotive language as when the text presents a emotive word I get emotionally connected to that feeling and my past experiences. An example of this occurring was with the word ‘nervous’. As I read this word without even relating back to the context I instantly got a tightened stomach, sweaty palms, hunched back and remember a time I was nervous which the one I flash backed to was before a tennis game.

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Chris Waugh