Touching the Void chapter 4 close reading analysis


How is Simpson's use of imagery in chapter 4 effective in creating an empathetic and/or sympathetic response from the reader? (middle of page 63)


-personal connection text (baby reactions/instinct)

-imagery --> tragedy --> sympathy

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Paragraph we wrote in class on the board:

In his descriptions of the deaths of the two Japanese climbers in chapter 4, Simpson uses striking images depicting normal human behaviour, and images that highlight the sense of tragedy, in order to evoke sympathy and empathy in the reader. For example, when the first climber falls, Simpson describes him as falling "outwards and backwards, arms outstretched in surprise." Since this is a normal human response to falling, we can all sympathise. What makes the visual image powerful here, is that there is no surface nearby to catch the fall; the climber's reaction is futile, and the futility of the act evokes a strong sense of tragedy. Another example, taken from the same paragraph, occurs when the leader is show to pull his partner to their deaths "without a sound" (63). The lack of sound is due to distance; the climbers are falling in such a huge open space, making their death inevitable. Rescue is simply not possible. Both of these images (visual and aural) make the plight of the climbers easy to relate to, and the tragedy of their fate strongly felt. This is important for our main story, because to foreshadow that a similar fate could befall our protagonists.


How does the writer use syntax (sentence structure, length, type and variation) to establish a sense of perspective?

p.72 paragraph beginning with "Everything was still, silent...."

Topic idea: The change in syntax reflects the fact the protagonist is trying to process what is happening to him; the language reveals how overwhelmed he feels.

Examples: look at the individual sentences in that paragraph. We noticed:

  1. First two sentences are simple sentences
  2. the third is a complex sentence with a lot of pauses created through punctuation
  3. the last three sentences are incomplete, very short exclamative sentences

Write a paragraph answering the question, using the PEE structure.

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