What is the value of a person’s life? Is one person’s life worth more than another’s? Is someone else’s life worth as much as our own? These are questions that cannot and most likely never will completely answered. At least they cannot be answered easily. There are far too many factors, variables, and opinions to consider when attempting to answer them. The story Touching the Void, by Joe Simpson, addresses many themes in the story such as survival, facing challenges, friendship, among others. For me, the issue that stood out was the idea of placing a value on a person’s life. This paper will look at the “lessons” regarding the value of human life found in the story and how the readers can consider those lessons with regards to everyday life.
The two main characters in the story are Joe Simpson and Simon Yates. The story is told from the perspective of both men. The two men are young British climbers attempting to climb the west face of Suila Grande which is a 6,344-meter peak in the Peruvian Andes. At the telling of the story, the peak had never been successfully climbed. That is one of the things that drew the men to the mountain, the hope of being the first to accomplish the climb. Joe and Simon had met in Chamonix in the French Alps about a year before attempting to climb Suila Grande. Climbing is an extreme sport where participants must rely on one another and in many instances, place their lives in the hands of those around them. Those climbing together must trust the people they climb with. It often takes a long time to develop the relationship needed to successfully work together. “Even though I liked him straight away, I didn 't decide to specifically climb with him… but deciding to go on the trip with him...
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... Joe was frightened when he fell into the crevasse but was hopeful because he knew that Simon was the other end of the rope. He was in trouble but he was not alone. As the hours passed, his thoughts also began to change. He began to resign himself to the idea that he was going to die. He was essentially losing his will to live and the value of his own life began to lessen in his mind. When Simon cut the rope, Joe believed he was going to die. The worst thing about it to him was not so much that he was going to die but that he was going to die alone. He did say that he understood Simon’s decision to cut the rope and if the roles had been reversed he probably would have done the same thing. What was necessary to save himself. After his bout with self-pity, Joe’s survival instinct began to kick in. He decided that he was not going to give up and that he wanted to live.
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