Touching the Void- Useful quotations for GCSE English Literature

Page 53- symbolism- “As if, in some way, the nature of the game was controlling me towards a logical but frightening conclusion.”
The ‘game’ metaphor appears when the climbers reach the summit, and supports the idea that climbing and the risks of it are an addiction for Joe and Simon. Also suggests that there is a greater power (void) that is controlling their life’s (the game).

Page 58- premonition (foreshadowing)- ” we had been on the mountain long enough for me to have attuned to all of its pot entail threats; so much that I had sensed that something would happen without understanding quite what it would be”
This shows that Joe feels that something bad is going to happen on the decent, a sense of foreboding, and in this quote he is already bracing himself for a bad event to happen.

Page 60 (Joe’s dialogue) “‘You’re joking! Bloody hell! I’ve just nearly killed both of us on this bit, and we haven’t a clue
what it’s like below us.’” This dialogue between Simon and Joe depicts the realisation of that the two climbers are out of their depth; pitting themselves against the wilderness of the South Face of Sierra Norte. It also shows the climbers admitting to mistakes, and the degradation of both their morale and of their relationship.

Page 63- Japanese Climbers- Basically shows foreshadowing, as they reminiscence on a climbing accident that they witnessed, where the leading climber fell and pulled the other with him. Shows the dependency between the two, and their bond.

Page 72- Dark thoughts- “Something terrible, something dark with dread occurred to me, and as I thought about it I felt the dark thought break into panic” Continuous reference to something dark (void) whenever Joe is in intense peril, in this case after his accident.

Page 104- More dark thoughts (Simon) – “I sensed that something awful was hidden in the powder avalanches swirling madly through the black night below my snow cave.” References to an unknown object (the void) as an evil entity, that he is fearful of.

Page 106- Good personification within Joe’s mind- “Reality had become a nightmare, and sleep beckoned insistently; a black hole calling me, pain-free, lost in time, like death.” Personifies sleep to show that his body was past the point of exhaustion and there was nothing that he could do about it.

Page 112- Split persona/voices in Joe’s head- “Part of
me recognised this; a calm rational voice in my head told me it was the cold and the shock. The rest of me went quietly mad while this calm voice told me what was happening and left me feeling as if I were split in two -one half laughing, and the other looking on with unemotional objectivity.” Shows that Joe has become delirious due to the punishment that has been inflicted upon his body and mind. This also shows the will to survive, in addition to referencing a void between two things; the gap between the analytical and emotional sides of his brain,and the difference between the life and death, as one part of his mind is telling him he will die and the other is telling him what he should do. He later describes the two voices stopping, and his mind ‘becoming whole again’.

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