“Touching the void,” by Joe Simpson
Chapter 7 – “Shadows in the ice”
- Contrast is a language technique used repetitively throughout “Shadows in the ice,” to give us as the reader an understanding of the conflicting emotions that Joe is feeling. In two separate places Joe talks about how in one situation, he feels almost certain that he and Simon are going to die, and then in another he expresses his joy at being alive after having being so close to death.
“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?”
“Alive!…I laughed through the burning, and kept laughing hard, feeling tears rolling down my face.”
The contrast in these lines is used to show how Joe has hope even in the most dire of circumstances. Despite being stuck in a crevasse with a broken leg and virtually no way of getting out alive, Joe still shows that he has hope as he is happy to be alive.
- The rope is another symbol of hope for Joe as, if attached to Simon, it means that he may have a better chance of getting out of the crevasse, if a chance at all. When he pulls the severed end of the rope down into the crevasse, his sense of accountability towards Simon completely disappears. Any sense of hope that Joe once had is now gone.
“I pulled steadily, and as I did so I became excited. This was a chance to escape.”
“I saw the ropes flick down and my hopes sank.” “Crazy to have believed in it but everything was getting that way.”
These lines show Joe’s contrasting emotions, giving us an idea of how his sense of of hope and accountability towards Joe changes as he sees the cut rope.