In chapter 6 of “Touching the Void” Joe and Simon face numerous issues as they try to make their way down Siula Grande. The men encounter these issues mainly because Joe had just shattered his knee joint. Any attempt to descend the mountain was now particularly challenging the two men’s mental and physical strength. One could argue that neither was experiencing a greater level of difficulty. Although Joe was now battling severe pain in the mental and physical form, Simon was now responsible for two lives rather than one. He had to use rational thinking to try and find a way to help Joe down the mountain, being logical in preference of panicking. Simon also had a great level of responsibility on his shoulders because on a certain level he had the choice of deciding whether Joe was to live or not. It is evident that due to his injury, Joe’s dependence on Simon had greatly increased. However, would Simon make an effort in trying to help Joe survive, knowing it would risk his own life? Will Simon have no choice but to abandon Joe later on if they get in a difficult situation when there seems to be no way out? The reader may ask questions like these to themselves as they read about the ongoing adversity the two men face throughout the chapter.

After connecting two 150 feet ropes by tying each rope to the other, Joe and Simon came to the agreement that Simon would lower Joe 300 feet at a time. Simon would then climb down to meet Joe and repeat the process again. Throughout this process, the two men were unable to communicate with each other. Joe talks about this being the case near the beginning of chapter 6: “The rising wind and continuous spindrift avalanches drowned out all communications.” Although Joe and Simon have an effective strategy for descending at a fast rate, being unable to communicate with each other could lead to issues in future events. Whilst Simon is lowering Joe, Joe talks about how his injured leg continues to get caught in snow and the pain he experiences in this process. The two men were not able to communicate with each other, and because of this being the case, Joe was unable to tell Simon to stop or let him know about the pain he was feeling. Joe says “I stopped shouting to him after fifty feet … I concentrated on keeping my leg clear of the snow. It was an impossible task. Despite lying on my good leg, the crampons on the right boot snagged in the snow as the weight of my body pushed down. Each abrupt jerk caused searing pain in my knee.”  Joe describes the extreme pain he feels throughout chapter 6 and gives the reader an idea of how he feels about the situation he is in. Because of this, the reader can empathize with Joe’s feelings due to the descriptive language Joe uses. Joe puts the reader in his shoes. Joe talks about his experiences that happen regarding his feelings and attitude towards the situation he and Simon are in. Joe contrasts this with the alpine environment they have been climbing in.

As Joe is being lowered down the mountain, Simon does not realize that he is lowering Joe off the edge of a cliff. Neither of the two men knew about this before it was too late. While these events are taking place, Joe creates tension for the reader. This is shown when Joe says: “The sense of weight on my harness increased, as did the speed. I twisted round and looked up into th darkness.



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  1. Alex, you have expressed your ideas effectively overall in these answers – well done. E.g. “One could argue that neither was experiencing a greater level of difficulty.” ( a nice judgement).
    * Effective evidence selected to support your ideas.

    Continue to develop these answers by explaining your final thoughts. E.g. “gives the reader an idea of how he feels about the situation he is in” – which is? OR “Joe contrasts this with the alpine environment they have been climbing in” – which is?


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