Written Text

Describe at least one important technique used written text.  Explain how this technique helped you to understand one or more key ideas.  Note: Techniques could include figures of speech, syntax, word choice, style, symbolism, structure, or narrative point




Do many of you get up every day and complain about having to go to school?…… Because I can tell you I do!  We get up everyday complaining about having to go to school and yet Malala gets up everyday fighting for the 57 million woman and children who are deprived of their education, that many of us take for granted, and Malala is trying to get it back.


Paragraph One

Thinking of others above herself 11 year old Malala wrote a blog for the BBC Urdu detailing her life during the Taliban occupation of Swat. All the candidates refused to write the blog because of the risk of their safety from being exposed to who they were.  But despite this Malala’s father recommended her to the producers of BBC news even with the fear of the Taliban attacking his family if they saw the blog. I think Malala was very brave to take the opportunity because of the threat that it would most probably have on her life.  It would have been very scary but with the maturity of a woman well beyond her years, Malala thought of others and proved to the world that no matter where you are brought up, or in what conditions you live in, everyone can help make a difference if they truly believe in something strong enough.


Paragraph Two

As she got older Malala continued to become a Pakistani Activist for female education and the summer following the blog, journalist Adam B. Ellick made a New York Times documentary about her life as the Pakistani military intervened in the region. She rose to prominence, giving interviews on television, and she was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize by a fellow activist “Desmond Tutu”.  Malala has become a very popular by just doing what she thinks is right. She doesn’t think she is doing anything prize worthy she is just doing what she believes needs to be done. I don’t know about you but I think it takes a huge amount of courage to talk to the President of the United States “Barack Obama” let alone remind him and discuss the problems in the world that need to be fixed.


Paragraph Three

When Malala was only 15 years old she was given an amazing opportunity to speak out about women attending school, but she did not realise the huge implications and snowball effect this would cause.  Exposing herself and her identity as a woman education activist on worldwide TV is of grave risk, as the Taliban would not like it. The likelihood of getting killed or beaten just for speaking out was high. And as it turned out she was was an actual probability.  


Paragraph Four

On October 9, 2012, as she was traveling home from school, Malala’s bus was stopped by two Taliban gunman.  One gunman climbed onto the bus and asked the frightened students “Who is Malala?…..”, this simple sentence changed Malala’s life forever as after finding out who she was, the Taliban quickly fired 3 shots at Malala and two of her friends and then fled the scene with the other Taliban.   One of the bullets hit Malala on the left side of her temple. Dr. Javid Kayani, Malala’s surgeon said “the fact that she didn’t die on the spot or very soon afterward is nothing short of a miracle”. A bullet traveling one thousand km per hour slips under Malala’s skin but as it heads towards her brain that bone turns out to be so strong and curved it forces the bullet to ricochet away and instead smashes her eardrum severs a nerve in her face and hits her shoulder.


Paragraph Five

You would think that she would be upset, fearful and disappointed at the person who attacked her after all of the surgery and intensive care she was put you through, but, in an interview on the Oprah Winfrey show Malala explains, “In order to go forward it is important to have love in your heart, and I want to have love in my heart, I don’t want to have any hate or any bad feelings in my heart and that’s what makes me happy.  I believe that whatever happened bad or good it’s really important to focus on the future, learn from your past but in order to go forward, you have to focus on your future” I for one, think that in order to forgive and forget something like being shot you have to be an unbelievably strong person, especially knowing that it could happen again and still not being afraid. Malala teaches us that no obstacle is unbeatable and that if you work hard enough for something you believe in, you can get what you strive for.  Nothing can hold you down unless you let it. In a brutal attempt to silence her the Taliban only made her louder.


Paragraph Six

“I am Malala,” she said. “I am those 66 million girls who are deprived of education. And today I am not raising my voice. It is the voice of 66 million girls.”   This was what Malala said when she received the Nobel Peace Prize on December the 10th 2014. She also went on to sayIt is not time to pity them”, “it is time to take action so it becomes the last time that we see a child deprived of education”.  Malala knows what it’s like to be deprived of education, she knows how it feels to have everything ripped away from you as the town she grew up in ‘Swat Valley’ was in control of the Taliban for about 5 years for who deprived all females of education and their right to leave the house after turning 12 years old.  In a time like that, think, would you want pity or would you just want your education back.



Even with all the popularity and attention at such a young age she still has the world in perspective and hasn’t lost sight of her goals and what she believes in.   Malala is a young woman who has a great personality and a strong will to change the world. Amazingly against all the odds, step by step, she is completing her goal of getting women back into the local schools.  What an incredible achievement for someone so young, I know Malala has got an amazing future ahead of her and “the sky’s the limit” for her and what she can achieve from here.

Thank you

Speech Notes

Malala Yousafzai

  • Malala Yousafzai Urdu, Pashto born 12 July 1997) is a Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest Nobel Prize laureate.
  • She is known for human rights advocacy, especially the education of women and children in her native Swat Valley in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, northwest Pakistan, where the local Taliban had at times banned girls from attending school.
  • Her advocacy has grown into an international movement, and according to Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, she has become “the most prominent citizen” of the country.
  • Yousafzai was born in Mingora, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. Her family came to run a chain of schools in the region. Considering Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Benazir Bhutto as her role models, she was particularly inspired by her father’s thoughts and humanitarian work.
  • In early 2009, when she was 11–12, she wrote a blog under a pseudonym for the BBC Urdu detailing her life during the Taliban occupation of Swat. The following summer, journalist Adam B. Ellick made a New York Times documentary about her life as the Pakistani military intervened in the region. She rose to prominence, giving interviews in print and on television, and she was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize by activist Desmond Tutu.
  • On 9 October 2012, while on a bus in the Swat District, after taking an exam, Yousafzai and two other girls were shot by a Taliban gunman in an assassination attempt in retaliation for her activism; the gunman fled the scene. Yousafzai was hit in the head with a bullet and remained unconscious and in critical condition at the Rawalpindi Institute of Cardiology, but her condition later improved enough for her to be transferred to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, UK.  The attempt on her life sparked an international outpouring of support for Yousafzai. Deutsche Welle reported in January 2013 that Yousafzai may have become “the most famous teenager in the world”.
  • Weeks after the attempted murder, a group of fifty leading Muslim clerics in Pakistan issued a fatwā against those who tried to kill her.  Taliban officials responded to condemnation by further denouncing Yousafzai, indicating plans for a possible second assassination attempt which was justified as a religious obligation. Their statements resulted in further international condemnation.  Following her recovery, Yousafzai became a prominent activist for the right to education. Based out of Birmingham, she founded the Malala Fund, a non-profit organization, and in 2013 co-authored I am Malala, an international bestseller.   In 2012, she was the recipient of Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize and the 2013 Sakharov Prize.   In 2014, she was the co-recipient of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, along with Kailash Satyarthi. Aged 17 at the time, this made her the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate.  In 2015, Yousafzai was a subject of the Oscar-shortlisted documentary He Named Me Malala. 2013, 2014 and 2015 issues of Time magazine featured her as one of the most influential people globally. In 2017, she was awarded honorary Canadian citizenship and became the youngest person to address the House of Commons of Canada.  Yousafzai attended Edgbaston High School from 2013 to 2017 and is currently studying for a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford
  • she was only 11 when she first wrote a blog for BBC news about what it was like to live in a country with the Taliban her father recommended her for the position after all other candidates refused due to safety risks
  • we get up everyday complaining about having to go to school and yet Malala gets up everyday fighting for the 57 million women around the world
  • How many of you get up every day and complain about having to go to school because I can tell you I have.  We get up everyday complaining about having to go to school and yet Malala gets up everyday fighting for the 57 million women around the world that don’t have an education
  • “one child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world
  • you would think Malala would be angry at these Taliban that shot her and her friends but when on the Ellen Show Malala states
  • “the fact that she didn’t die on the spot or very soon afterward to my mind is nothing short of a miracle” dr Javid Kayani
  • the chance of being shot at point-blank range in the head and that happening
  • Oprah Winfrey Network she says “In order to go forward it is important to have love in your heart, and I want to have love in my heart, I don’t want to have any hate any bad feelings in my heart and that’s what makes me more happy.  I believe that whatever happened bad or good it’s really important to focus on the future and learn from your past but in order to go forward you have to focus on your future and if everyday for the last three years if I would have cried that why it was me, why it was me nothing would have been done but insted of saying that I said okay I even though I was shot but I’m not just the only girl who becomes victim of discrimination in society or being attacked in terrorism or getting the part of Education there are billions of girls and the best way to fight against terrorisum is to educate girls is to impower their mystery as their voices and in those last three years I made a trip to Jordan to speack out for Syrian refugees and to venture Lebanon in Nigeria and this is like the best event you can ever take.”

“Touching the Void” Chapter 9 – In The Far Distance

Symbolism in literature is where an object, person or situation has an additional meaning to its literal meaning. The symbolism of light and “the voice” in Chapter 9 is used to show Joe’s changing circumstances and his reaction to them.

Use pages 132-133, 135 and 139-40 to explain what light symbolizes in Joe’s situation. How does it change his perspective or affect his actions?

  • The narrator uses the symbol of “the light” so that I as the reader understand the emotions invested in Joe’s journey back to base camp.  As Joe feels like he is about to give up the text states “I was mesmerized by this beam of sunlight burning through the vaulted ceiling from the real world outside.”  showing us that Jow believes that being in the crevasse is not functional, there is no purpose, nothing to do but sit and wait in endless time to dye.   He gives us the feeling that being in the crevasse is cold and dark and he would much rather be out in the sun and light, warm, loved and with a purpose.  The selected text “It had me so fixated that I forgot about the uncertain floor below and let myself slide down the rope. I was going to reach that sunbeam.  I knew it then with absolute certainty.  How I would do it, and when I would reach it were not considered. I just knew it.” tell us that the light is almost like a life source for Joe as when he sees it and automatically wants to go to it.  If there wasn’t any light he might have just stayed sitting on the ledge slowing fading from the world, the light gave him hope that he might just be able to make it back to base camp.  If I was in Joe’s position the light would have definitely helped me get moving as who want’s to be in the dark, cold and alone.

Use pages 141-142 to explain the significance of “the voice” and how it reflects Joe’s mental and emotional state in this section of his journey.

  • “The Voice” in Joe’s head shows his mental and emotional state to the reader.   As Joe is struggling to get back to base he hears a voice in his head that helps him move in the right direction.  He describes the voice as another person so that he doesn’t feel so lonely crawling back through the moraines.  The selected text “Then the voice would tell me I was late and I would wake with a start and crawl again.”  tells us that the voice is more like a climbing companion telling Joe to get a move on so that he would get home in one piece without dying because he kept falling and “resting” or falling asleep.  The text also states  “The voice told me how to go about it, and I obeyed while my other mind jumped abstractly from one idea to another”  showing us that Joe relied fully on this other voice casting his “other mind” away as if it was a hindrance to him getting home safely.   The reader understands from this narration that Joe is so mentally and emotionally weak from the all the days without food, water or rest that his life now depends on a voice inside his head.  He treats the voice as if it is Simon there on the mountain with him as Simon was the dependant leader of the climbing pair and Joe relied on his reassurance before he made the decision and if the voice replacing Simons presence and if it wasn’t there he would have surely died.  This presents interesting reality about Joe’s survival: If Joe didn’t hear the voice would he have died? Could he have made his own decisions? Is it excusable for him to lose all responsibility for himself when his life is in danger or couldn’t he help it?

Mood and Tone

MOOD refers to the atmosphere (or feelings) created in a passage of writing. Words that might describe the “Mood” of the passage are: threatening, restful, nostalgic, peaceful, chaotic, joyful or jubilant, sad or melancholic…etc.

TONE refers to the attitude of the writer (in our case, the narrator) towards what is happening in the passage. Words that might describe the “Tone” of the passage are: humorous, angry, witty, direct, positive, sensitive, nervous or hesitant, questioning, unconcerned…etc.

Here is a site that lists a number of words to describe MOOD and TONE:


It is important to understand, that the MOOD (atmosphere created) and TONE of the passage (the attitude of the writer towards what is happening) are created through:

  1. The word choice
  2. The language techniques used (I have posted a handout as a quick reference for language techniques)
  3. The sentence structure/syntax

“Touching The Void” Chapter 8 – Silent Witness


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.

“The first feelings of panic built up as I stared wildly from one crevasse to another. Had we gone above or below that one? Or was it that lower one? I couldn’t remember. The harder I tried the more confused I became, and eventually I was weaving a contorted and terrifying path, unsure of where I was heading.” Page 123

  • The paragraph “The first feelings of panic built up as I stared wildly from one crevasse to another. Had we gone above or below that one? Or was it that lower one? I couldn’t remember. The harder I tried the more confused I became, and eventually I was weaving a contorted and terrifying path, unsure of where I was heading.” on page 123 gives a negative and dark feeling to the reader.  The narrator uses words like panic, wildly, contorted and terrifying to set the mood of the passage. The words help the reader visualize the atmosphere of the situation and what the narrator is experiencing.  The reader visualizes crevasses on all sides like a never-ending maze and being stuck in the middle not knowing where you have been or which way to go.

“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

  • In the paragraph on page 125 “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” the narrator uses words like lonely and empty to describe the attitude of the narrator and the tone of the text, they make the narrator seems depressed, sad and at a loss.  The narrator also uses contrast to contribute to the tone of the text, it strengthens the aspect of the narrator now being alone in the snow emphasizing the difference between “excitement, healthy and strong” and “lonely, chaos and empty”.

“Touching The Void” Chapter 7 – Shadows In The Ice

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

For example, he describes the black space below him in the crevasse as: “the stark blackness of the drops, too deep for the light to penetrate…the black space held untold horrors….staring at the black hole in front of me….the dark spaces menaced” (page 110), but then contrasts these dark images with descriptions of the night sky: “small hole in the roof, where the sky was cloudless, packed with stars, and moonlight was adding its glow to their bright sparkle.” (page 111)

Similarly, Joe had previously stated that he believed, he and Simon would die on this mountain: “I accepted that I was to die. There was no alternative.” “How long will you be, Simon? I thought. How long before you join me? (page 107)” However, later in the crevasse, he states: “Alive!…I laughed through the burning, and kept laughing hard, feeling tears rolling down my face (page 109)” “Simon…I couldn’t conceive of him dead, not now, not after I’ve survived.” (page 111)

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?

  • The use of contrast in these sections of the text strengthens the two aspects by showing up the difference to emphasize a change or difference or idea

The rope in the text could be seen as the connection and accountability that exists between Joe and Simon. Joe’s hope resides in the fact that Simon is still connected to the end of this rope (pages 113-114) What happens to this connection, sense of accountability when Joe pulls on his end of the rope, while in the crevasse? Use quotations from the text to support your answer.

  • fjhgjhgjgjhgjjhg

EXTENSION: Why do you believe Joe lowered himself deeper into the crevasse? (page 116)

SEER (State Expand Example Response)

State Your Topic (first sentence)

  • E.g – Simon’s narration is significant in “Disaster Chapter 5

Expand With Relevant Background Detail

  • E.g – Simon’s narration is told from Joe’s perspective, however, Simon validated Joe’s account as ‘fair and correct.’  Simon’s “voice” reveals that he felt justified in distancing himself from Joe.

Examples (specific)

  • The text states …
  • The reader is told …
  • It is revealed …
  • Words like …
  • The selected text ……… tells us …

Response (your response)

  • What does the reader learn?
  • What does the reader think/ visualize/feel?
  • What connections can the reader make to other experiences or contexts?
  • What is the overall purpose/_________?
  • E.g – The reader understands from this narration that Simon is calculating the value of his life against Joe’s.  He also treats the situation logically and considers the “odds” of their survival, if Joe is assisted down the mountain.  This presents interesting reality about human native: should we risk our own life for others? When does our relationship or commitment to a person end? Is it excusable to relinquish responsibility when we are endangered our lives?

Cross Reference

  • You can include a cross-reference to a relevant situation, person, place, time, etc…

“Touching The Void” Chapter 6 – The Final Choice

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.

  • Every 150metres Simon reaches a knot or the end of the rope so Joe has to stand on his good leg and wait for Simon to either take the rope out of the belay plate or walk down to him.
  • As he is sliding down the mountain Joe is constantly “snagging” his foot on rocks or ice and is crying out for his friend to stop it is very hard for Simon to continue but he knows its in Joe’s best interests to keep lowering him down “Simon let me slide faster than I had expected and, despite my cries of alarm and pain, he had kept the pace of decent going” “Despite lying on my good leg, the crampons on my right boot snagged in the snow as the weight of my body pushed down”
  • Simon gets bad frostbite from sitting in the weather and lowering Joe.  ” my hands were stiffening again. They always got bad before the knot; stiff, like claws.”  “the belay plate was easy to control despite my deadened fingers.  They were bad now. I worried about them, as I had done since we left the col.”  ” Four fingertips were blackened, and one thumb, but there was no saying whether the others wouldn’t also go the same way.”
  • The weather gets really bad and the can’t see or hear on another so when Joe sees a cliff up ahead he tries but can’t tell Simon to stop and when he falls over the edge of it Simon doesn’t know how big the drop Joe’s just fallen over is or if he can use the rest of the rope to lower him to the bottom of it.  “the rising wind and continuous spindrift avalanches drowned out all communications.”  “I could see nothing through it.  If anything the spindrift was worse than before, and that could only mean that it had begun snowing heavily.  Below me the view was equally limited.

How does Joe, recreate the tension felt when he is lowered over the cliff “into the void”? Consider any structural (syntax), language or narrative techniques he uses to recreate the intensity of this experience. (pages 94-96)

  • Joe uses short sharp sentences to create tension when he’s being lowered into the void.  He uses “I had to stop” and “Then abruptly my feet were in space. ”  these examples create a sense of danger by not giving more than one piece of information at a time, it’s like Joe is in a rush to complete the sentence before he falls off the edge.

“Touching The Void” Chapter 5 – Disaster (Climax)

When Joe shatters his knee joint, it is one of the most climactic moments in the text (one of the most tension-filled moments for the protagonist). Pages 71-73. 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 imagery used it this climatic moment transports you to where he is and the traumatic thoughts he must be having after being severely injured 20,000 ft up a difficult mountain like if he would live or if Simon would abandon him.

2. Joe interviewed Simon about his experiences in sections of their journey on Siula Grande and recounted what he believed to be Simon’s perspective of these experiences. Simon said that these recounts were accurate to his thoughts and feelings.                                                                                                              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.

  • I think Joe uses Simon’s perspective because when Joe breaks his knee he is rendered useless he had to rely directly on Simon to get him down the mountain and Simon has to make the desition whether he wants to risk his life and possibly have both Joe and Simon die while trying to help Joe down the mountain or going down himself and ensuring that he will live and leave Joe to die.

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?