“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.

Respond now!