In chapter 5 of “Touching the Void,” the reader is taken through an intense and adrenaline-filled area of the book. In this chapter, it highlights Joe when he shatters he knee joint after taking a fall. Joe and Simon experience feelings of fear and struggle as they become confronted with a major challenge. This is mainly to do with Joe injuring himself. The two of them have extreme difficulty trying to get down the mountain because they are climbing in a harsh alpine environment, and Joe’s shattered knee joint makes matters a lot worse. The reader becomes able to empathize with Joe and Simon’s feelings through the various writing style techniques included in the text; from Joe’s perspective as the narrator and from the perspective of Simon through his interview incorporated in the chapter. After Joe injures his knee in chapter 5 of the book, he uses narrative voice to illustrate his feelings of how he feels at that specific point in time. He says “Dying had seemed so far away, and yet now everything was tinged with it”. It can show to the audience Joe’s feelings of being taken off guard: one-minute everything seems fine and the next minute everything changes and a major mental and physical hurdle confronts Joe and Simon. Another style of language used in Chapter 5 of “Touching the Void” is imagery and draws the reader into Joe and Simon’s descent of Siula Grande. Imagery is a use of language that captures the senses of the reader and includes smell, sight, taste, touch, or hearing. Depending on the perception of the person who is reading the book, (the way they view the world) they may vary in how they feel towards the scenario. Imagery is used when Joe is waiting for Simon to reach him after his knee injury. Joe says “We were above 19,000 feet, still on the ridge, and very much alone.” The reader is able to feel as if he or she is in Joe’s situation because Joe puts them in his shoes. By saying that he is alone, the reader can identify with feelings of loneliness. Most people have experienced feelings of loneliness throughout their own personal lives. Those who are reading the book can identify with these feelings and are provided a more engaging experience as they read the text.

After Joe shatters his knee joint, the interview with Simon gives the reader an idea of what is happening from a different perspective: the perspective of someone who is observing the scene, and in this case Simon. During the events of Joe injuring himself, Joe and Simon’s changing relationship becomes clear. When Simon finds out that Joe has broken his knee, Simon’s first reaction is that it’s all over, at least for Joe. This is shown when Simon describes his thoughts: “… I took in everything around me instantly, and knew he was dead. It never occurred to me that I might also die. I accepted that I could get off the mountain alone. I had no doubt about that.” The reader is told that the thought of deserting Joe has crossed Simon’s mind. Simon was thinking of leaving Joe as an attempt for Simon to save his own life. This shows that Simon has switched his mindset to survival mode, possibly without taking Joe’s life into consideration. 

When Simon gives his perspective on the current events taking place, he foreshadows other events that may occur later on in the text. An example of this is when Simon says: “I couldn’t help him, and it occurred to me in all likelihood he would fall to his death. I wasn’t disturbed by the thought. In a way I hoped he would fall.” Simon is foreshadowing Joe dying. He believes there is a high chance of death becoming a reality for Joe. Simon is feeling this way mainly because he believes that it is not possible for Joe to make it successfully down the mountain due to his current knee injury.  Simon is trying to take a realistic approach towards Joe’s situation. It is made evident that Simon will take this approach if Joe becomes more vulnerable to the harsh alpine environment in future events. Simon has decided that he will not be too ambitious in an attempt to save Joe’s life if it puts his own life at risk. 

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  1. Alex, well done for identifying imagery as a language technique used to retell events vividly in this section of the text. I believe that the first technique you were referring to when you state: “the reader is taken through an intense and adrenaline-filled area of the book” was the use of emotive words. Continue to specifically name the language techniques used in your answer. Also, the narrative voice you talk about is the use of first person.

    There are perceptive responses given about the way Simon’s logical mind is expressed through his thoughts about Joe’s fall- well done.


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