1.1 Written Text Essay: “Touching the Void”

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

What if you were given a story that drastically changed your life. Would words be justice to explain what you have been through. How would you portray your story. For Joe Simpson the author of “Touching the void” he was able to utilize  language techniques: foreshadowing, personification and symbolism to drastically influenced my perspective on the emotions, the events, survival and relationships within this text. The use of these language techniques have taught me determination and sacrifice is what separates those who do and do not accomplish their ambitious, human nature stands inferior against nature and human nature possesses this inner conscious acts on our decisions.  

 The repeated use of foreshadowing first occurs at the beginning of the text before the story was even told. “…but the dreamers of day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible”. This quote  help the reader understand that the ambitions of the men has lead to a problematic event or ending. Suspense is created  as the reader is now anticipating a horrific event somewhere throughout the text. It teaches me that determination and sacrifice is what separates those who do and do not accomplish their ambitious. However those with the will power to accomplish their ambitious must go out their comfort zone and undertake a high risk for a high reward. Is it worth the risk? For some the risk is taken and success is the final outcome but tragically for others the risk is taken and failure can only be the true outcome. Foreshadowing also occurs when Simon lowers Joe when descending from Siula Grande. “Hes trying to be quick… that’s all. I knew it to be true, but there was still something wrong”, “It was the slope. Of course! I should have thought of it earlier. It was much steeper, and that could mean one thing – I was approaching another drop” and “A sense of great danger washed over me. I had to stop”. These quotes have been placed relatively close to each other to emphasise that a tragic event is about to take place as it constantly indicates something is wrong. The reader understand that human nature must either trust their ‘gut instinct’ or logical brain to make decisions about their safety. So which would you choose? Its hard to argue against your logical brain but science proves that your gut instinct should always be trusted. Foreshadowing shown in the quotes enables the reader to connect with the characters anxiety with some of their own experiences. Due to my knowledge I can relate this use of foreshadowing to another text named “Into thin air” written by Jon Krakauer…

The first significance use of personification is at the event of Joe Simpson  breaking his leg. “It obeyed no commands…caused every sort of agony…gave myself up to the pain.” The reader understand that Joe perceives his leg to be detached almost if it was not his. The reader understand that human nature may associate inanimate objects with human like actions which is why we can feel emotion towards this inanimate objects. I can relate this experience to when I had sleep paralysis where body would not obey my commands to move. Joe must be feeling panic and shock as those were the emotions I felt. Personification also occurs when Simon Yates comments on the mountain while descending Siula Grande. “I felt watched. Something in the crescent summits and ridges looked down on me and waited…I was about to die; I knew it and they knew it.” The reader understand that Simon perceives the mountain to be superior,  ready to take his life in revenge of leaving Joe to die. The reader also understand  that no matter how prepared or strong you may be, human nature stands inferior against the brutality of what nature beholds. Ambitious adventurers like the men often disregard this which is why tragedies occur due to the cockyness of human nature.  It also teaches me that human nature feel guilt after doing a sin which is why we believe in the superstition of karma.

Symbolism first occurs with the rope, being most significant Simon cuts the rope. “If I hadn’t cut the rope, I would have certainly have died”. 

“I couldn’t bring myself to dispense with the comforting reassurance of the rope”. The rope symbolizes the connection and accountability of Joe and Simon. This is shown because Joe was reluctant to untether from the rope even though he knew the rope was not going to save him if he were to fall again. The quote teaches the reader that as humans we perceive that survival is most likely when staying with the pack which is why when put it in isolation or stressful situations when tend to rely on our group/individuals for guidance and support. Symbolism also occurs with the light when Joe falls into a crevasse.  “…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”. The reader understand that the light beaming through the crevasse symbolizes motivation and hope for Joe. This is shown because after glimpses of the light Joe no longer focuses on the odds of getting out but instead concentrates his attention to getting out. The light is motivation for Joe as I can imagine Joe seeing the light from the outside world reminding himself that this beautiful life of his is worth fighting for. This also teaches the reader motivation and hope is needed to accomplish any goal you may wish to achieve. This is why human nature often give up as they perceive their goals to be impossible. However with the belief and determination any ambition is possible. The voice is also another use of symbolism in text when Joe decides to fight for his survival after falling into a crevasse. “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 the reader understand that voice symbolizes a logical, commanding and responsible mind which commands Joe’s actions and decisions in moments of need. The voice also symbolizes a higher ranked, trusted second opinion almost if it were a resemblance of Simon. I perceive the voice to be like Simon because Joe had a very low self esteem perceiving Simon as his idol acting on his decisions, but also Simon was very commanding with his short syntax commands such as “No more fluting’s” and “Come up”. The voice also teachers the reader that humans possess this voice which helps them in different aspects of their lives. So what does the voice mean to you? For me the voice symbolizes company when alone which is why I find myself talking to myself in isolation. 

Joe Simpson the author of “Touching the void” has integrated the language techniques of foreshadowing, personification and symbolism to help the reader understand key ideas. It teaches the reader that determination and sacrifice is what separates those who do and do not accomplish their ambitious, human nature stands inferior against nature and human nature possesses this inner conscious which acts on our decisions.  

This essay is still not finished. I still need to extend my points on what the reader learns but also could thin it down more. 🙂

2 Replies to “1.1 Written Text Essay: “Touching the Void””

  1. Michael, well done for including multiple reflections for how these techniques affect the reader. Overall, you need to be more succinct when presenting these ideas. Remove any unnecessary repetition and where possible, get to your point quicker. I.e. Consider including the examples of foreshadowing, personification and symbolism earlier in your points, and when giving your judgements (opinions) about how these affected the reader, be more direct. Great ideas, but a more “punchy, direct and authoritative writing style” is needed overall. Please ask if you have further questions.

  2. Good editing thus far, Michael 🙂 I see that you are also going to use a cross-reference to “Into Thin Air” – do you have this yet?
    – Be careful of unsupported statements: “science proves that your gut instinct should always be trusted.” Is there brief justification for a comment like this?
    – Your connection to Joe through the “sleep paralysis” reference could be stronger. Make sure you relate clearly back to the context in the text.
    – Lastly, you have included so many developed personal judgements about the text which is good. However, your final point on symbolism could be edited down. Unfortunately, you would not have enough time to write so many points with examples and judgements in a real exam setting.
    * Please speak with me if you have any questions.

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