1.1 Written Text Essay -“Touching The Void”


  1. Symbolism, Mountain, Rope, Voice
  2. Narrative Voice / Narrative Perspective / Point of Narration: Joe Simpson and Simon Yates
  3. Figurative Language: Simile, Metaphor, Personification, Hyperbole
  4. Imagery: the Combination of Descriptive Language and Techniques for certain effects
  5. Conflict (Tension-filled moments) – Created through word choice and syntax
  6. Syntax (sentence structure) – Different types have different effects
  7. climax / turning point – syntax – word choice – dialogue
  8. Dialogue – Different speaker traits


English 1.6B v3 Speeches

How much do you really love your freedom? How about those home comforts? Do you kinda take for granted the regularity of your daily life, daily routine…you know, just the known and familiar stuff? Imagine for a moment…having that all stripped away or taken from you! Everything! Imagine having to flee your homeland and live in exile in a foreign country, because of who you are or what you believe in or stand for? Sound rough, unfair…or maybe actually really really scary????

Today I’m going to talk to young about an amazing human being who really has been a world changer. He’s faced some pretty significant challenges and has taught the world some profound lessons in the message he shares. We can learn a heck of a lot both through the content of his lessons, and also by the dignified way he shares them.

Let me introduce you to the Lhamo Thondup, also known to most as the Dalai Lama, who at the age of 15 had to do just this…

As the 14th Dalai Lama, he could’ve rightly assumed that he would spend his reign in the relative luxury of Potala Palace in Lhasa Tibet. Unfortunately, Politics or ‘international relations’ got in the way. The Peoples Republic of China laid claim to and invaded Tibet in 1959, and their relative animosity and aggression towards the Tibetan people really put the Dalai Lama on shaky ground.

The Chinese army forced compliance at gunpoint, fast-tracking the throning of the Dalai Lama, and the official naming of him as spiritual leader of 6 million Tibetan people. Sure, he’d been in training since he was roughly 3 years old and had been raised and taught by monks to take on this role. But it was the eventual invasion of the Chinese that threw him firmly and officially into the hotseat if you like. Quite a responsibility, especially when the invading army are set to rip your nation apart, or force you into submission. The people surrounding, training and protecting the Dalai Lama tried desperately to stop the Chinese invasion. But the Chinese used rather dirty tactics, forging official seals to persuade delegations of various areas of Tibet into submission. They also used guns, and they’re pretty convincing. The Dalai Lama’s  requests for help from other nations went unanswered, or the responses were not as he hoped. Tibet was left realizing that they faced the inevitable. Imagine how devastating and terrifying this must have been for the young leader, particularly since he’d only just been officially appointed or given the job!

Once this invasion, known as the ‘Tibetan Uprising’, was a certainty, some pretty big decisions had to be made. Knowing that he faced certain imprisonment, and possibly death, at the hands of the Chinese invaders, the only way he could continue to serve his followers and religion effectively was to actually flee his homeland.  The Dalai Lama was forced to leave everything he had ever known and everything that was familiar in Tibet, he was forced to take an enormous step outside his comfort zone if you like.

Often we think of comfort zones as in a physical sense, we think of physical hardship and challenge or suffering, but stepping outside your comfort zone applies equally to cultural and spiritual challenges or hurdles. When the Dalai Lama moved into exile in India he faced a huge cultural and spiritual challenge because he still carried the enormous responsibility of spiritual leadership of millions, but needed to now carry out this role from a new and foreign location. And just remember, he’d only just been officially throned! The challenge was unavoidable, his faith and his message to his followers mattered too much to him.

The Dalai Lama fled to exile in McLeod Ganj, India, where he currently lives to this day. 80,000 Tibetan refugees followed him into exile, which is a pretty significant show of support for a spiritual leader really. They were fleeing the aggression of the Chinese, but also wanted to follow and feel safe in the presence of their leader. McLeod Ganj has been nicknamed Little Lhasa or Dhasa, due to its population consisting mostly of Tibetans. The official Tibetan government in exile is located here along with the Dalai Lamas Temple and the Tibetan museum containing thousands of exquisite artifacts salvaged from Tibet, despite the best efforts by the Peoples Republic of China to destroy anything remotely Tibetan, or to control anything coming in or out of Tibet.

So we can probably all agree that the 14th Dalai Lama had a rather different experience at 15 to what we’ve all been living here in our own comfort zones here in Wanaka. But it’s not the upheaval, the fleeing his homeland or his living in exile that has really stamped his mark. The Dalai Lama has made a difference and continues to make a difference because of what he gives to the people of this world. It’s his message about life, about living, about priorities and what’s important or what actually matters that has really made him a well-loved and well-respected individual.

Despite being a leader of the Buddhist faith, the Dalai Lamas message on a wide range of important topics, including human rights, non-violence, environmental issues, astronomy, health and even neuroscience, has drawn huge respect from people of all faiths from all around the world. His quiet, yet important message about so many areas, from really simple to really complex aspects of life and humanity, have drawn widespread support and respect all over the globe. This ultimately resulted in him being awarded the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize.

In addition to the messages he shares on such a wide range of important humanitarian topics and world issues, his own personal journey or story can teach us many lessons that we can all incorporate into our daily lives. Doing what you think is right and staying true to your principles or beliefs, may sometimes require an unconventional approach or deviating from your original plan. His original plan was to rule as a leader in Tibet. That changed, but his life’s work and message to his followers has not. We can also learn that life sometimes throws up unexpected and complex situations, that require you to adapt and refocus in order to achieve your goal or do the work you feel you need to do. He’s done this. We have much to learn from this great leader. He leads by example. He is a world changer and someone who has achieved great things, ironically by teaching about the small stuff, and all of this from outside his comfort zone.

As The Dalai Lama often says:  My religion is simple, my religion is kindness. He continues to travel the world teaching us these lessons. While the setting and location might change, good works with good intentions have a profound impact no matter where you are in the world.



Shadows in the Ice – Chapter 7

1) Contrast is used to show Joe’s conflicting feelings and experiences in this chapter. Joe uses the contrast between the dark black void below and the bright white light of the sky above, Joe describes himself caught between the two having to choose whether to climb up into the light and survive or to fall to his death and demise.
2) The rope in the text shows the connection and accountability that exists between Joe and Simon. and when Simon cuts the rope this connection gets destroyed. and when Joe is in the void and he tugs on the loose rope and it falls into the gap Joe feels a great sense of dread and betrayal.

The Final Choice – Chapter 6

1) Some of the problems the men face trying to get down the mountain include: The face that they were descending was coated in thick powder snow, meaning they could not get a good anchor point for a belay. this meant that Simon had to dig a seat in the snow so he could lower joe. “but the seat would only just survive the length of the rope” and so Simon would have to lower joe fast, this caused Joe’s leg to snag on the slope and cause joe intense agony.

They only had two 150 foot ropes and they knotted them together to form one 300 foot rope, but this meant that there was a knot in the rope and so when half the rope had come through joe would have to take his weight off the rope so Simon could unclip the belay plate and reattach it onto the other side of the Knot.

2) as Joe realizes he is approaching the cliff he starts using different syntax to engage the reader and draw them into the moment, “It was the slope”, “Of course”, “I was approaching another drop”, “I had to stop!”. he uses short simple sentences to build up the tension at that moment

Disaster-Chapter 5 (Climax)

  1. When Joe shatters his knee joint, it is one of the most climactic moments in the text. Joe uses extremely descriptive language to explain how it felt to experience this and to draw the reader into the moment, an example of this is “My knee exploded, Bone grated and the fireball rushed from groin to knee.” this hyperbole and metaphor tells us exactly how he feels and what he is going through his head at that moment. Joe uses the comment “Something terrible something dark with dread occurred to me, and as I thought about it I felt the dark thought break into panic: I’ve broken my leg, that’s it I’m dead!'” to make us understand how extreme this disaster is and that death is the likely outcome. Joe also often refers to the pain as a fire: “the fireball rushed”,”a fierce burning ball”,”Stabs of fire”,”Pouring on fire” he uses this repetition to portray the idea of how the pain feels and to personify the pain and make it seem as if the fire is torturing him. Joe might also use the idea of fire to portray the pain as it contrasts the snow and ice of the mountains.

  2. When joe shattered his knee in the text he uses simons opinion to tell a different perspective of the disaster and explain how it felt for Simon as well as joe because in the situation Simon tells us that “he could get down the mountain by himself” but would have to leave joe, or he could risk both of them dying but he might be able to get both of them down the mountain. but Simon decided to try get Joe down and “It never occurred to me that I might also die, I accepted it without question.
    The use of Simons perspective also tells us how Simon plans to get them down the East Face safely and what he has to do to lower joe. at this moment Joe is only really thinking about his leg and the pain, so it is good to get a different perspective of the event.
    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. this tells us that in the text all of Simons perspectives where not actually his own but an opinion of Joes, to what Simons perspective was at the time of the event. “Simon said that these recounts were accurate to his thoughts and feelings” this shows that Simon believes that what Joe has written is accurate to the truth but it still cannot be simons perspective because it was written by Joe

Tempting Fate – Chapter 2

in chapter 2 of Touching the Void Simon and his climbing partner have a very special relationship shown by the comment by Joe, “he was an easy friend”, the text also suggests that Simon is a role model for Joe and that Joe aspires to be like him. When Simon and Joe are climbing up the ice cliffs there is a huge amount of trust for each other’s abilities involved to make it up the mountains and overcome the challenges at hand.
at the start of the chapter, they are both enthusiastic about the climb and keen for the challenge but nearer the end Simon and Joe are starting to worry the might not be able to find a snow hole before dark the chapter ends with a flashback of a time joe was climbing in the alps and the ledge they had a bivi in collapsed and they where hanging in midair with nothing but their bedrolls waiting for a rescue.

Role of the author

  1. “The dreamers of the day are dangerous me, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible”
    That the people who dream at day try to act their dreams with open eyes are dangerous because they are taking risks that are life-threatening.

  2. Joe likes being in the mountains. He enjoys the exhilarating feeling of the remote wilderness and there were no climbers no helicopters and no rescue just them and the mountains.

  3. The lines “he was an easy friend: dependable, sincere, ready to see life as a joke… a touch of madness that makes just a few people so special” tells us that Joe has quite a special relationship and they have been friend for a long time the passage “Simon was keeping a steady pace that matched mine” suggests that Joe and Simon are quite evenly matched and “there where few other people that I could’ve coped with.

  4. “Simon and I had found Richard resting in a sleazy hotel in Lima, halfway through his six-month exploration of South America.” this passage tells us that Richard likes to explore the world living off the grid and traveling to remote places living cheaply as shown when “He had lived off grubs and berries with pygmies wile dug-out canoeing through the rain. forests of Zaire.” and when “his traveling companion was shot dead by trigger-happy soldiers in Uganda.” Simon and Joe probably were quite impressed by Richards lifestyle and where happy for him to come along with them to basecamp and also to watch over the camp while Joe and Simon were climbing.

  5. When Joe says, “We were in the middle of the Cordillera Huayhuash, in the Peruvian Andes, separated from the nearest village by twenty-eight miles of rough walking.” it tells us that if something was to go wrong and they needed rescue they where a long way from any sort of civilisation and a very long way from help this foreshadows the idea that they will need rescue and something will go wrong.

  6. When Joe was alone climbing in the mountains he repeated the chant “We can do it… we can do it…” He probably did this to keep his mind on the task at hand and to make sure he was focused, because when mountaineering the cold can affect the human brain and cause it to make stupid decisions. the chant could also be to keep them motivated and with the feeling that they could do it.

What Is Included

Blackened fingertips create an image of frostbitten fingers in our mind trying to turn the knobs of the gas cooker.
We can assume the text is narrated by Simon, Joes climbing partner as it mentions the narrator talking to Richard and also referring to joe.
the phrase “The Chaotic Bustle of lima” places the image of a busy City opposed to the tranquility of the mountains as shown when Simon describes the “icy white sweep of Sarapo”.
The text tells us that Simon wants to stay in “Thrall of the Mountains” as shown by the comment from Simon “Something prevented me from leaving” with the phrase “I was afraid to return and face the music” backs up the idea that Simon does not want to leave”
the comment “it wasn’t a crime to have survived” gives us the impression that he has survived through a deep hardship and disaster.

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Chris Waugh