In the text “Touching the Void”, written by Joe Simpson, there was a point where the main character, Joe Simpson, felt very uncomfortable in the situation he was put into. Joe felt severely uncomfortable when he broke his leg while descending the mountain. Both Joe and Simon Yates, his climbing partner, felt that this was a death sentence and that there was no way to get him down the mountain. When Joe breaks his leg, there are many language techniques that make the reader feel involved in the situation, and effectively portray Joe’s thoughts and feelings. Joe uses these techniques to show the reader the direness of the situation that he is in, and ultimately putting the reader into his position to understand his reaction. The three main language techniques that Joe used are syntax, relationship, and emotive language to characterise his feelings.

Emotive Language:

Joe Simpson and Simon Yates are climbing partners, who had made the joint decision to scale the unclimbed West Face of the famous mountain, Siula Grande.  Once they reach the top, however, they realised that getting back down may not be as easy as it first seemed. When making their way down, Joe slips and injures his leg badly. Both of the men have abandoned hope, and see no use in attempting to get Joe down. Simon becomes determined to get Joe down the mountain and he invents a rope invention to assist in this. Yet again problems arise as Simon lets Joe go too fast and ends up suspended in the air, over the edge of a large crevasse. Simon turns to his only option, the knife in his pack, and cut the rope, freeing himself of the burden that is Joe Simpson. The author uses emotive language to make us feel sympathetic toward the victim (Joe) and angry or resentful of the perpetrator. Simon is now viewed upon by Joe as the perpetrator, because of his decision to cut the rope. When Joe is described as experiencing ‘a burning, searing agony’ and feeling trapped, we, as the reader, feel sympathetic because he didn’t deserve to get hurt. Simon, however, is presented in a different light, Joe’s words saying he was ‘resentful, cruel’.  This teaches us that


From the start of the text, Joe and Simon are repetitively described as being interdependent on each other. They rely on the other for their abilities and their knowledge of the others needs. This connection is what keeps the two men tied together, for if one falls then the other will surely fall down too. It is this reasoning that the severing of the rope is such a significant moment. When Joe breaks his leg, he is deprived of many of his climbing talents, talents which Simon relies on to keep himself, and Joe, alive. As time goes on, Joe is now a burden to Simon as he is slowing him down. When the time finally comes for Simon to cut the rope, the burden is released, and Simon is free of the responsibility weighing him down. This severed rope is, unbeknown to Simon, a symbol of their now severed relationship. What was once a united effort was now a solitary success. Simon made the decision to sacrifice Joe in order to save himself and it cost him his relationship with him. We learn from this that

Doreen Cherry – AWLA Australian Women’s Land Army.

 Doreen Cherry, Australian Women’s Land Army 1945 – present day.

I was fortunate to train in a wonderful hospital with dedicated staff. One of my greatest achievements was establishing the Graduate Nurses Association at Royal North Shore. I I am a past president and remain a staunch supporter and I often attend meetings at Royal North Shore.

The Graduate Nurses Association is still in operation and one of our biggest achievements was when a very dedicated Graduate Nurse Una Sullivan ensured that we raised money for a magnificent stained glass window for the hospital chapel designed by Philip Handel.

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Under the Liverpool clock in 1945, the place where John arranged to meet.

Husband John William Cherry died at the age of 45, due to a Bilateral cystic kidney failure. The two met through John’s sister, Audrey. Audrey recommended that Doreen become penpals with her brother. After writing back and forth, John asked to meet Doreen under the clock at Liverpool station. 10 days later they were engaged.

Doreen has two daughters, Wendy and Rosemary, and six grandchildren. She had her 91st birthday on the 20th of January, and was surrounded by life long friends and family.

Doreen is a dedicated member of many organisations such as, The Graduate Nurses Association, The Australian Women of the Year (having being a member for 35 years) and of course, the Australian Women’s Land Army. She has also attended many ANZAC Day marches, and is a strong supporter of the services that the army provide. Doreen is a respected and well know member of the Northern Beaches community.


Chapter 5 [~] Disaster

✰ TASK 1 

Explain how language and writing style techniques were used to draw the reader into Joe’s experiences in this section of the descent. You may wish to comment on: imagery, emotive language, figurative language (simile, metaphor, personification, hyperbole), dialogue, syntax (sentence structures) and/or narrative voice.

The lead up to Joe’s sudden catastrophe starts roughly around page 70, two pages previous to the incident. Joe says that ‘I would have romped happily down the gentle slope but for the rope tugging insistently at my waist’. This quote is only one page prior to when everything goes downhill. This technique is foreshadowing, used to hint to incidents that may occur later in the book.Using this technique so close to the incident sets the scene to be prime conditions, so good that it but be too good. We are set up for a happy ending and it is abruptly ripped away from us, showing the urgency of the situation, and how impacting this is to the storyline. 

 ❁ TASK 2 

What is the purpose of including Simon’s narration when Joe shatters his knee-joint? Identify specific quotations that reveal important information about Simon and Joe’s changing relationship, through Simon’s narration. How do some of these details (from Simon’s narration) foreshadow what will happen later in the text? What do you anticipate Simon will do in these difficult circumstances?

C H A P T E R 6 – Shadows on the ice.

     Contrast is used to show Joe’s conflicting feelings and experiences in this chapter.

.-.-.-.-. TASK 1 .-.-.-.

Explain why contrast is used in these sections of the text. How does contrast assist the reader to understand Joe’s feelings and experiences in this chapter?

This chapter starts as Joe is being gradually lowered by a desperate Simon, clinging onto the hope that he will touchdown on some kind of surface. By this point, the cold has taken its toll on Joe, “Cold has long since won its battle. There was no feeling in my arms and legs.” He’s going into a state of delirium, whisked away by the comforting thought of death. “I laughed through the burning, and kept laughing hard, feeling tears rolling down my face.” Everything is tinged with death, and hes no longer holding onto the hope that Simon will save him, that everything will be okay. The sense of desperation has gone. In the first few lines at the start of the chapter Joe states ‘How long will you be, Simon? How long before you join me?’ He says this in a sort of carefree way, as if he is relieved by the thought of Simon joining him in his seemingly inevitable death. Later in the text we see that Joes opinion on this matter has changed. ‘It hadn’t occurred to me that he (Simon) might be dead..dead? I couldn’t conceive of him dead, not now, not after I’ve survived.’ Contrast is used here becau

C H A P T E R 6 – The Final Choice.

-‘-‘-‘-‘-‘- TASK 1 -‘-‘-‘-‘-‘-

List some of the problems the men face trying to get down the mountain. Include quotations from the text (pages 85-94) to support these ideas.


Chapter 6, titled ‘The Final Choice’, presents many inconveniences for the men. These problems start with the quote ‘Simon let me slide faster than I had expected, despite my cries of pain, he had kept the pace of decent going.’ The urgency of the situation is starting to weigh down on Simon. He knows that there isn’t a second to waste in getting Joe down the mountain, and even a moment’s hesitation could be fatal to them both. Joe’s harsh cries are heard faintly by Simon, and in this moment he has a choice. Put Joe through an unimaginable amount of pain, to save him and himself, or discontinue his determination to rescue the two of them.

‘. . . The spin drift was worse than before, and that could only mean it had begun snowing heavily. “At this rate we should be down by nine o’clock’ he said cheerfully.” He is Simon and as he so cheerfully regards how soon they should be down the mountain, another threat is drowned out by his optimism. Snow had begun falling rapidly and at this point in the text, barely halfway, this sentence that is camouflaged by Simons happiness is only the start of something a lot bigger. It is foreshadowing, subtly signalling the events that are to come. In such an important part of the text, there is not much context to what time it is, but we get the sense that nine o’clock is not too many hours away. Simons hopeful tone makes the reader confident in their descent.


C H A P T E R 8 – Silent Witness

Choose TWO of the following passages from Chapter 8 and describe the MOOD and TONE in each passage. Also, explain how this MOOD and TONE was created. I.e. Reference any word choice, language techniques used, or sentence structure chosen.

“Instead there was a slow ache inside, a growing sense of loss and sorrow. This is what it had all come down to – standing alone, amid the mountain debris thinking of the waste and the pity. I thought of saying a quiet farewell as I turned to leave, but in the end, didn’t. He had gone for good. The steady surge of the glacier would take him down to the valleys in the coming years, but by then he would have become a casual memory. Already, it seemed, I was beginning to forget him.” Page 124

Tone:The sentences are long and detailed but there are parts that are short and to the point. ‘He was gone for good’, like a statement of finality. He used the term ‘casual memory’ like its just that one thing you forgot to get from the shop. Simons forget-and-move-on attitude in this passage effects the readers opinion of him. Where he once seemed like a laid-back chill sort of guy, he is now portrayed as self-centred and selfish for forgetting his friend so easily and moving on with his life as it were before.

Mood: We get a dull feeling of giving up, moving on, and forgetting. All the adjectives used in this passage are morose and dismal. Words like ‘gone, waste, pity, loss, and sorrow.’ They all set the mood for the serious time that this is. 

“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 and 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.” Page 125

Tone: The sentance’s are long and drawn out to give


C H A P T E R 2 – Tempting Fate.

*_*_*_*_ TASK 1 _*_*_*_*

Describe the relationship between Joe and Simon in this chapter, including important quotations. How are the men inter-dependent and why?

In chapter 2, Tempting Fate, certain events that take place shape Joe and Simons relationship. The men acknowledge each others abilities, stepping in when the other needs a hand. In this chapter they are progressing up the West Face, taking turns, alternating the leading person. They trust the other to take the right path and take the safest route. Throughout this section of the text, the characters recall past experiences and tragedies that had occured whilst climbing. Each have has something equally bad happen to them, lived to tell the tale and have been shaped by these events. ‘I remembered all too vividly, two years earlier when climbing on the Bonatti Pillar…’ These memories still haunt them to this day, a vivid image replaying in their minds.


The Role of the Author and Initial Characterisation.

Chapter 1

What do you think these lines mean to you?

Joe includes the quote ‘The dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible’ at the start of the text ‘Touching the Void’. He is referring to mountaineers. The ‘dreamers of the day’ are people who act upon their thoughts and ideas to make them a reality for themselves. Dreaming with open eyes puts your mind out in the open and into real life. The quote also refers to these people as being dangerous, for dreams are not always good, and displaying them into the world opens a hazard for other people. On the other hand, those who dream at night do not have control of their thoughts, and therefore pose no threat to living things. People who are unaware of their thought won’t act on them.

What is your initial impression of Joe Simpson?

Joe Simpson, the author of the book and narrator in the opening pages, is presented as a man with experience. From the line ‘We were in the Cordillera Huayhuash, in the Peruvian Andes’ we gain the knowledge that he knows his way around, and has possibly been here before. ‘I felt a homely affection for the warm security of the tent’, this quote presents the idea that either he relishes in the warmth and comfort the tent brings or that what lurks outside seems daunting.

What do these lines tell you about Simon and his relationship with Joe?

Simon, the character Joe introduces in the beginning of the book, is portrayed as a laid back, calm sort of guy with a ‘take it as it comes’ attitude. Joe sounds as if he idolises Simon, even envying him. The pair share a special connection to each other, a relationship that appears to have been standing for  a long time. Simon is Joes climbing partner so they have been together through thick and thin, and supported each other throughout rough times.

What do these lines tell you about Richard and how Joe and Simon view him?

Richard, in the opening of the book is portrayed as an outside, a guy who doesn’t have a main goal in life. He jumps at opportunities to see where life leads him, but had no real motive behind going places other than, ‘why not’. Joe and Simon meet him whilst he is staying in a rundown, shabby looking hotel. Richard joins them in their expedition into the mountains, amule for their belongings. They view him as someone with no real value.

Touching the void – Critical Questions

From the first sentence, we immediately know that this part of the text is set at a campsite. Over the next few lines, we get a bit more backstory to what has happened in recent days. From the line “the sight of my blackened fingertips”, and “I’d forgotten they were damaged”, we get the feeling that this isn’t the first encounter the characters have had with climbing and cold weather. A man named Richard is introduced and is presented to us seemingly holding a grudge about previous events. The statement “He was quiet as he prepared breakfast”, shows us that recent events have affected his behavior and that he isn’t normally like this.

Lima, a place the narrator introduces, is portrayed as the place where they live or have been staying at whilst they endeavor across cold landscapes.

The narrator has used harsh words and more emotive language to make the text more vivid and give us some connections from the text to ourselves. Words like ‘bitter, diminished and unrelenting’, give the story more depth in that we feel what they feel. We aren’t told from the text who is speaking but from the material given, they have been through many hardships. The narrator and Richard, through vivid writing, are presented as having a bond to each other in some way but are relenting their company.