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

Symbolism, Figurative language and foreshadowing are used throughout ‘Touching the Void’ a book by Joe Simpson. They are used deliberately from the author, Joe Simpson to make the reader see and feel a certain way.

Foreshadowing is used when Simon falls off the summit. Quote: “I had felt a moment of anxiety only minutes before Simon had fallen. I had noticed this in the past and had always wondered about it.”  Joe says this after Simon had fallen, indicating that he has sensed the danger before it struck. This is known as foreshadowing, hinting that something will happen before it happens.  Joe’s anxiety feeling that he feels before Simon falls, shows the reader that Joe senses the danger and the jeopardy they are in. Moments like this happens regularly throughout the first 5 chapters, hinting the future troubles the two men will face.

Foreshadowing is used again when Simon is lowering Joe. Quote: “The face here was much steeper…enough to frighten me, and make me think that Simon was barely in control,” Joe said. This quote is foreshadowing as, Simon hardly had any control lowering Joe. The slope was steeper than what both of them thought, Joe was terrified and in pain the whole way down and Simon was risking his life lowering Joe, with the chance of being pulled out of his seat in the snow and going down with Joe. The quote said by Joe foreshadows the troubles they have while going down the mountain.

Symbolism is used in Touching the Void to make the author feel a certain way. Symbolism is used when Simon is lowering Joe down the mountain by a rope. The rope is the symbol of what is between Joe and Simon. The rope is their only way of communicating and connecting with each other. The rope pushes Joe and Simon’s friendship boundaries. When Simon cuts the rope, it’s another way of cutting of all ties with Joe in a friendship manner. Simon did not stop lowering him when he could hear Joe screaming, this relates to a toxic friendship where someone can have no emotion in hurting someone else , either by not caring or numbing themselves to the situation.

Symbolism is used again, when Joe has gotten out of the crevasse. ‘The Voice’ is a symbol for Joe’s inner mental battle. Joe is hanging on to the tiniest bit of hope that Simon will find him, he is scared, not accepting and losing hope. These feelings from Joe are portrayed as ‘the voice’ which is what is repeated through the chapter. ‘The voice’ is a symbol of Joe’s feelings which makes the reader understand that Joe is mentally not okay because of the voice in his head making erratic thoughts. Quote, “I gazed at figures in the broken ice of the cliff. I was unsure whether I could really see them. Voices argued with the commanding voice, and decided I was seeing them.” This quote shows Joe’s dedication to listen to the voice in his head, as well as letting ‘The Voice’ dominate his life actions.

Figurative language is used to achieve many things in a text such to create a word picture for the reader. This engages the reader into the text. In Touching the void figurative language is used in many forms. For example personification is used after Joe has escaped the crevasse. “I twitched my leg gingerly and was rewarded with a stab of sharp pain from my knee”. This quote gives  Joe’s knee human characteristics by saying his knee stabbed him, causing pain. This indicates the vivid image that Joe’s body is tired and exhausted, which is effecting Joe by putting him in pain.

Figurative language used in the form of a simile, when Joe has escaped the crevasse and is suffering through his mental inner voice. “The bad leg slid along behind like an unwanted pest.”, he says, describing his pattern of leaving Siula Grande. This quote is a simile because Joe is saying his leg is like an unwanted pest, with the inner meaning that he’s distancing himself from his own leg. His leg is slowing him down, paining him and he has almost detached himself from taking ownership. This thought indicates the negative thoughts plaguing his mind.

In conclusion, foreshadowing, symbolism and figurative language is used in the book ‘Touching the void’ by Joe Simpson. All three language techniques are used by Joe to make the reader feel and understand vividly whats happening in the book. He uses the language techniques as a way to connect the reader to the feelings he felt, the thoughts he had and the reasons behind the two men chose their decisions in extreme situations.



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  1. Hi Greysea. Some great points made here!
    A few notes:
    – You could be more specific to the effect achieved from the techniques in your introduction: “to make the reader see and feel a certain way.” What do you mean?
    – Are sentences like these needed? “Symbolism is used in Touching the Void to make the author feel a certain way.” Does this tell the marker anything new?
    – Quotation/s will be needed to support your rope symbolism point.
    – Have you explained why the voice is important for Joe’s survival?
    – I am not sure whether you need your figurative language points. If you developed your other points with quotations and final judgements about what the reader learns from these specific sections, then the essay could be long enough without the last two point paragraphs. You could make a call about this 🙂


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