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.


In “Touching The Void”  written by Joe Simpson; a story of survival in the Peruvian Andes after two young climbers, Joe Simpson and Simon Yates, make the summit of Siula Grande and Joe breaks his leg; the language technique symbolism is key to understand the main elements of the story.  I will be discussing how the symbol of the rope helps us to understand how dependent humans are on each other, how the rope being cut shows Simon giving up on Joe, and how the burning of Joe’s clothes helps us understand Simons healing process.

Paragraph 1

At the start of the text, the rope represents interdependence and safety. During the beginning of the text both Joe and Simon rope together this is for safety as if one of them falls the other one can arrest their fall, this means that each member of the group relies on, or they are interdependent, each other. “One minute I was climbing, the next I was falling… I realized you had held my fall.” The symbol of the rope helps the reader to understand that climbers rely on each other to provide a level of safety. It shows the reader that we as humans rely on each other every day, sometimes for survival or sometimes for things as simple as a cup of coffee, but we can not live without the support of others.

Paragraph 2

The rope being cut helps the reader understand that Simon has given up on Joe. In the middle of the text during Simons attempt to lower Joe down the remainder of the mountain Joe is lowered off a cliff, Simon holds Joe for as long as he can but then without hesitation, he cuts the rope and allows Joe to fall to what Simon believes is his death. “His weight had gone from me.” The rope being cut helps the reader understand that Simon has given up on Joe because it shows the reader that Simon is willing to sacrifice Joe to save himself, which he would not be willing to do if he still was determined to save Joe. It teaches the reader that humans will always value their own lives over others.

Paragraph 3

Simon burning Joe’s clothes helps the reader to understand that Simon is ‘letting go’ of Joe. Nearing the end of the text the day after Simon has arrived at camp while he still believes Joe to be dead he and Richard, the third member of their group who remained at camp, burn Joes clothing and other items they aren’t going to give to his (Joes) parents. “I had to get things straight in my own mind before I could return… The healing process had started… I searched round the tent looking for the medicine box. It lay partly hidden by some of Joe’s clothes at the back of the tent. I threw it onto the grass outside and then sifted through his things, After fifteen minutes there was a pile of clothes and possessions lying in the sun by the medicines… I turned the pile of possessions and began sorting through them. I found his used film and zoom a lens in a plastic bag. It was a large bag so I gathered all the things I wanted to give to his parents and put them in as well… He fetched some petrol and we burnt the clothes in the river bed.”  This symbolizes Simons process of letting go or in other words coming to grips with his grief about Joe’s death. It is symbolized by the state of Joe’s clothes. Initially, they are ignored showing that Simon is in denial, the first stage of grief. Then Simon begins to move them out of the tent, symbolizing that his healing process is starting or coming his grief is coming out of the ‘tent’. Simon then begins to sort them into piles one of which is what he wants to give to Joe’s parents, this symbolizes that Simon has come to grips with facing Joes parents about their son’s death, he then burns the other pile symbolizing that his healing process is finished. This teaches us as the readers that ‘time heals all wounds’, that we as humans will eventually move through our problems and move on with our lives.


In “Touching The Void” written by Joe Simpson the language technique symbolism is key to helping the reader to understand key ideas. I have explained how it helps the reader to understand the key ideas of, the dependence each climber has on one another, how the bond between the climbers was broken and helps the reader to understand the healing process that is taking place for Simon.

Speech English 1.6A v3

Topic: Why paper stationary should be replaced with a computer.

Possible Parts: Paper production harmful to the environment, benefits of computers in the classroomhelping people with learning disability learn, learning could continue at home, students and teachers would not have to be in the same room to partake in class, with devices, tablets with stylise and interactive projector, smart tables, handwriting could still continue and as it is electronic it can be reused all most infinitely, ease of access to work,.

Chosen Points: Paper production harmful to the environment, benefits of computers in the classroom, helping people with learning disability learn.

Paper production harmful to the environment:  It is estimated that 40% of the waste in the U.S. is paper, 40% of the world’s commercially cut timber is used for the production of paper, a peace A4 paper requires 10 liters of water per sheet, When paper rots, it emits methane, a greenhouse gas,  approximately 30 tons of paper is produced each second. 24 trees to make one ton of paper.

Benefits of computers in the classroom:

A teacher’s class of students may not be able to board a plane and fly to Antarctica for a hands-on lesson, but they can view the area virtually, use Google Earth to survey the icy land, and speak with scientists in real time. Virtual field trips are an excellent learning tool and would be impossible without the use of classroom computers. Today, children can connect with experts in any field through computers and have a fuller, more rounded understanding of their lessons. Students can chat with an astronaut, author or physicist or view an event they otherwise would miss, simply by having access to computers in the classroom. – says

Computers grant access to the Internet, which hosts academic research and offers educational support. Historical records and social organizations are only a click away, providing a wealth of information for studying history and social studies. Students and teachers are now able to communicate with educators and other students anywhere in the world easily and instantly. This new phenomenon opens up opportunities for collaboration that did not previously exist. There are also many resources and communities online that are available to help students develop and improve mathematical and scientific understanding. Says computer expert Kelly Freidman from

A research paper from Michigan University studying the effects of all student have there own device says that “Schools that provide each student with a laptop computer, as well as the appropriate support for both students and teachers, see significant improvement in academic achievement.”

Computers helping people with learning disability to learn: People with dyspraxia, reading issues, dyslexia, speech impairments, intellectual problems, communication issues.


Paper is extensively used by schools, but why? We could easily replace paper with technology, which has numerous benefits over paper. Today I am going to convince you that we need to remove paper from the education system and replace it with computers. I will be informing you about the impacts of producing and disposing of paper, the benefits of technology in the classroom.

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The production process of paper has a huge impact on the environment. Approximately 30 tons of paper is produced every second. To make that paper 720 trees were cut down. That was in only one second. Each school of around 100 students uses 250,000, a 1/4 of a million sheets of paper each year, and there are 300 million schools worldwide so that’s 75 trillion sheets of paper in schools alone. So if we remove paper from schools then that is 75 trillion sheets of paper saved, which, in turn, means saving trees of which in the Amazon rainforest alone, 2,000 trees are cut down each minute. This causes widespread deforestation which has two main harms, loss of habitat for animals and the reduction of greenhouse gases being removed from the atmosphere. National Geographic says “The most dramatic impact is a loss of habitat for millions of species. Eighty percent of Earth’s land animals and plants live in forests, and many cannot survive the deforestation that destroys their homes…Trees also play a critical role in absorbing the greenhouse gases that fuel global warming. Fewer forests means larger amounts of greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere—and increased speed and severity of global warming.” By removing paper from schools we will save 75 trillion sheets of paper or 337,500,000 tons of paper per year, which intern saves 8.1 billion trees. Each tree process around 21 kg of greenhouses gases per year, so if schools remove paper from the education system then as a result 170,100,000 tons of greenhouse gasses will be removed from the atmosphere each year, as well as maintaining animal habitats.

Paragraph 2

Computer’s and other devices being in the classroom have many benefits in the classroom. Not only do computers have learning benefits for normal everyday students, they also help students with learning disability. Firstly computers help students academic performance, a research paper from Michigan University studying the effects of all student having their own device in the classroom shows that quote “Schools that provide each student with a laptop computer, as well as the appropriate support for both students and teachers, see significant improvement in academic achievement.” Computers in the classroom also allow for learning in more specified areas, and for both students and teachers to speak with experts in the field’s they are studying. Computers also help people with learning disabilities. 10% of the population has a learning disability, that means that potentially 3 people in this room having a learning disability such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, or ADHD. Computers help students with all of these conditions to learn. For example, people with dyslexia usually have difficulty with reading, writing, and spelling, computers help with all of these. Computers allow for students to type there work which will be spell check as they type and computers come with software that allows text on the screen to be read aloud to the student, this allows for the students to work more enjoyable and efficient way, as there learning disability have been eliminated.


To sum up, paper is an outdated resource, especially in the education system. Today if have educated you on why the education system needs to replace paper with technology because of both academic benefits and the harms of paper production. If schools in New Zealand stopped using paper then we would save 625 million sheets of paper in schools each year, which means saving 67.5 million trees each year. This is a huge step in the right direction towards combating climate change, probably the biggest issue we as the human race have ever faced, and we can combat it while providing an increase in academic performance. So why aren’t we?


Chapter 9 – In The Far Distance

Part 1

During pages 132-140 the light represents Hope. It completely changes his view on his situation. In an instant, Joe’s mentality goes from scared, worn out and hopeless to optimistic, energized and excited. To Joe, it represents the possibility that he might live. It makes Joe immediately spring into action and try and get himself unstuck. “I was going to reach that sunbeam. I knew it then with absolute certainty.”

Part 2

During pages 141-142 the ‘voice’ represents Joe’s innermost conscience. It shows us that Joe is completely mentally worn out. It does this because it is the only that is controlling his action and telling him what to do, the rest of his brain is in turmoil. The ‘voice’ is Joe’s survival instinct the ‘voice’ is the only thing that keeps him functioning although it is at the most basic level. “A voice in my head told me that this was true, cutting through the jumble in my mind with its coldly rational sound. It 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  of the voice.” “The voice told me exactly how to go about it, and I obeyed while my other mind jumped abstractedly from one idea to another.”

Chapter 8 – Silent Witness

“It was a lonely place to rest. In the huge chaos of the moraines, I had sat down to rest at the one spot where I would be reminded. We had sat in the same spot six days earlier. All our keen excitement, and the healthy strong feel in our bodies, had become an empty memory.”

The mood in this section is sad. This is because Simon is thinking back to before the accent of the mountain and feeling upset about the events that had happened during their climb. This is created by the use of ’empty memory’ this makes it feel that the feeling of happiness and excitement has been replaced because of the events that have taken place on the mountain. The tone of the writer is reflective. This is because Simon is reflecting on the events that happened before the climb.

“If I hadn’t cut the rope I would have certainly died. Looking at the cliff, I knew there would be no surviving such a fall. Yet, having saved myself, I was now going to return home and tell people a story that a few would ever believe. No one cuts the rope! It could never be that bad! Why didn’t you do this, or try that? I could hear the questions, and see the doubts in the eyes even of those who accepted my story. It was bizarre, and it was cruel. I had been on to a loser from the moment he broke his leg, and nothing could have changed it.”

The mood in this section is worried. This is because Simon is going to have to return home and tell people about the cutting of the rope and he is worried about how they will respond. The tone of the writer is angry. This is because Simon is angry about how he tried his hardest to get Joe off the mountain and managed to save himself  but he is going to return home and be criticized.


Chapter 7 – Shadows In The Ice

Part 1

Joe use’s contrast during this section to portray that his mind is constantly chopping, changing and jumping all over the place. It shows us that Joe has accepted his fate and that as his circumstances change so does his acceptance. For example, earlier in the text Joe say’s that “I accepted that I was to die. There was no alternative.”, but as the chapter progresses his viewpoint changes “Simon…I couldn’t conceive of him dead, not now, not after I’ve survived.”.  Contrast is also used to show how conflicted and confused Joe was before, during, and after the rope was cut. It shows is that Joe was not thinking straight as his perception of the events and his surroundings are changing all most constantly. When Joe awakes at the bottom of the crevasse he is excited and happy “Alive! … and I laughed again, a real happy laugh.” but Joe quickly becomes distressed “I stopped laughing abruptly. My chest tightened, and the tension took over me.”

Part 2

When Joe pulls on the rope and it comes down cut it adversely affects Joe’s mental state. Immediately after Joe pulled down the rope he proceeded to cry and had a sort of mental break down. “I cried in bursts, and between them listened to the childlike sounds fade beneath me, then cried again.” The rope being cut also separated Joe and Simon’s fate it left them to their own means and each with their own obstacles to overcome. This sort of kick starts Joe into trying to take his life into his own hands.

Chapter 6 – “The Final Choice”

Part 1

Some of the problems that Joe and Simon faced as Joe where that they were only able to descend straight down, this meant that they could not change their line of decent easily as they would have to make flow traverses sideways. Another problem was that Joe’s leg kept getting stuck in the snow, which caused him even greater discomfort. The seats that Simon lowered Joe from caused further problems, as they only just lasted long enough for Joe to be lowered one rope (300 feet) length. “It had been quite impossible to descend in a diagonal line to the right. Gravity had turned me into a dead weight and no amount of scrabbling against the snow with ice axes had prevented a plumb vertical descent.” “… I concentrated on keeping my leg clear of the snow. It was an impossible task.”

Part 2

Joe uses minor sentences to recreate tension during pages 94-95. They show us that Joe is thinking in short bursts that only barely make sense due to tiredness, his injury and the fact that he has adrenaline running through his system. We can tell this because if Joe had been in a complete functioning state then he wouldn’t have been talking in short irregular outburst, he would be speaking in fully formed sentences. This shows us that Simon and Joe are not functioning physically, mentally or emotionally anywhere near to 100% of there capacity and this adds to the tension during this section as we are thinking about things they, Simon and Joe, could have done differently that they didn’t or couldn’t think of.

Part 3

There are multiple factors that influenced Simons decision to cut the rope. One of the main factors that influenced his decision was the cold, because of the cold he had frostbite which meant he couldn’t hold the rope properly, the cold also reduced his strength this meant that he couldn’t hold the rope properly and for as long. Another factor would have been exhaustion because Simon had already lowered Joe around 2700 feet he was worn out already this meant what little he could have done differently, he was not able to. The factor that ultimately forced Simon to cut the rope was the fact that the belay seat started to collapse this kicked Simon into action to save his own life it was ultimately the only thing that caused him to cut the rope as he was only acting on instinct. It was important to include Simons perspective in this section for two reasons. One it gives us insight into what events happened to Simon that caused the rope to be cut, and secondly it is to show everyone else that Simon did everything in his power to save Joe right up until he no longer could, this is so that people who were not there understood Simons actions and forgive him, or at least leave him alone.

Writing a Formal Response (Point Paragraph)

State your point/topic (first sentence): Simons narration is significant in “Disaster-Chapter 5”
Expand with relevant background detailSimons narration is told through Joe’s perspective, however Simon validated Joe’s account as “fair and correct.” Simons “voice” reveals that he resented Joe’s injury and that he felt justified in distancing himself from Joe.
Examples(specific): The text states “…” The reader is told “…” It is revealed “…” Words like “…” This 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 contexts? – What is the overall purpose/message? : The reader understands from this narration that Simon is calculating the value of his life against Joe’s. he also treats the situation logically and considers the “odd’s” 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? Is it excusable to relinquish responsibility when we are endangered ourselves?  

Chapter 5 – “Disaster”

Part 1
Emotive Language
Joe uses emotive language to helps us understand what the events were like by linking them to our past experiences. Example “…bones splitting…” this gives us the idea that his bones are being split apart, like when wood is cut. This is to show us how Joe’s knee broke, it also tells us that joe is becoming more detached from the leg, speaking about it more abstractly and that it is becoming a nuisance.
Joe uses metaphor throughout this passage to help us understand what he is feeling by linking it to something else. Example “…a fierce burning fire coming down the inside of my thigh…” this is comparing burning to the pain that Joe is experiencing. It is comparing fire to his pain, fire is consuming, and extremely painful and intense, this tells us that the pain Joe is feeling is completely consuming and very intense.
Narrator Voice
The narrator voice during this passage is first person, omniscient (all-knowing). This gives us full insight into what Joe was feeling in this passage as we are given all details.

Part 2
The purpose of including Simons perspective after Joe falls is to give us insight into Simons thoughts and perspective, and not just Joes speculation into what Simon is thinking.
“… I accepted without question that I could get off the mountain alone. I had no doubt about it.” “I watched him quite dispassionately.” “In a way I hoped he would fall.” “I knew I couldn’t leave him while he was still fighting for it, but I had no idea how I might help him.”
Simons narration foreshadows that joe will fall by repeatedly hinting to joe disappearing and falling. He also hints at the fact that he will leave the mountain on his own, and that he will not hesitate to if he needs to.

What Would I Do?

I would largely have done the same as Simon did, I would’ve helped as much as I could. However, I would have done some things differently. I would still have belayed Joe off the mountain but I would have kept the snow stake to use as an anchor. I would also have dug a snow cave to stay the night when it got dark. If I ended up in the same situation, having to cut the rope, I would have tried to change belay devices or anchored the rope. If this was not possible then the most likely scenario is that I would cut the rope.

Chapter 4 – “On the Edge”

On the Edge

The Pun

This pun is used well to summarize the events in the chapter because of its two meanings. The first meaning is that Joe and Simon are literally on an edge, that they are on a ridge line. The second meaning is that Joe and Simon are near the end of their abilities, strength and supplies, they are close to losing control and potentially die, or fall of the edge. This summarize the chapter well because throughout the chapter the come closer and closer to losing control, they have multiple falls and sketchy moments that they barely make it through.



The use of symbols to represent ideas or qualities. The gas stove running out of fuel symbolism that Joe and Simon are running out of time and energy. It shows us Simon and Joe are moving closer and closer towards failure, accident, or maybe death.

Reaching the Summit of Siula Grande

These lines were included give us a look into Joe’s thoughts and his psyche. This passage reveals that Joe has doubts about his ability, and his purpose. It shows us that Joe feels like he has no control over his direction, and where his life is going. He feels as if the mountains controll him, not directly but that he needs them for satisfaction, but he will never be satisfied because there will always be a bigger challenge. The quote at the beginning of the text references dangerous men, this extract reveals more about the dangerous men. It reveals that the dangerous men don’t control their dreams their dreams control them, that once they reach their dreams they dream bigger, and then bigger again, until there dream is to big and they injure themself or someone else.