Touching the Void - How Does Joe Simpson Create Tension?
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Table of Contents
This is an important question to ask about this book because when Joe Simpson wrote it he was faced with two main problems. Firstly, we know that he survives the disaster because he has written a book about it. Secondly, the book and the story are now so well known the reader probably knows all about what happened anyway. Despite these problems, however, Joe Simpson is able to keep the tension high and keep the reader reading. To do this he uses a wide range of writing techniques.
The first important one is dramatic irony. This is a way of creating tension by actually highlighting what is going to happen. In Touching the Void, Joe Simpson gives us lots of hints that something will go wrong even if the characters don’t know it at the time. He does this by referring to his sense of anxiety and the friends’ worry about the weather.
In the opening chapter, for example, he tells us that he is feeling worried but doesn’t know why. The reader knows that he is right to worry but he doesn’t. The tension lies in the difference between the reader’s knowledge and that of the narrator. This contrast, between how the narrator feels at the beginning of the book and what we know will happen to him is made stronger by the opening image of the book. Simpson describes how comfortable he feels in the tent. It is this warmth and security that they will soon be...