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

One Reply to “essay”

  1. Hi Lillian. Well done for catching up on this work after you have been away. Please continue to work through this practice task as preparation for the school examination.
    * Just a quick comment: “relationship” is not usually considered a language technique. You do talk about the rope being a “symbol” of the men’s relationship so you could focus your second point on symbolism.
    Please speak with me if you have any questions.

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