Critical questions: Extracts from “Touching the Void” – Joe Simpson
What images are presented in the text?
The main image we are presented with is of Simon and Richard starting the day at their camp. Simon’s narration of the first paragraph of the extract shows that he has fully recovered from the previous days events.
“The deep tiredness I had felt yesterday was gone. The only remaining evidence of my ordeal was the sight of my blackened fingertips. Already I was forgetting that they were damaged and was surprised when I couldn’t fiddle with the small key to the petrol stove.”
This quote by Simon shows his eagerness to move on from the previous days events. Words like “forgetting” and “fully recovered,” the fact that he refrains from talking about the “ordeal” and the absence of Joe show that these events were probably unfavorable to Simon and the other two members of his team. Another idea that helps create this image is the fact that, until the end of the extract, there is no dialogue between Simon and Richard. This silence helps develop a negative atmosphere despite Simon’s positive outlook during the first paragraph.
At the beginning of the second paragraph Simon talks about “the bitter feelings” of the day before and how “they hadn’t diminished.” He then goes into more detail about Joe’s absence and how he felt the blame for what had happened to him. Despite all this he believes that he was “as much a victim as Joe,” and had done the right thing leaving him. He knows he should be able to leave but is unable to as the mountains, he feels, have a certain power over him, that’s stopping him from doing so.
The thoughts of having left Joe behind on the mountain and Simon’s eagerness to leave have created a tension between Simon and Richard resulting in the silence and the overall, negative image of the extract.