A Sound of Thunder is a time travel story that conveys a theme of the importance of all events and actions. The story focuses on a single event that occurs on the time travel safari that is run by the Time Safari Company and how a small mishap, the killing of a butterfly, changed the course of evolution.
Bradbury points out in this story how the careless behavior of one of the travellers causes a shift in the course of evolution. The story also focuses on a the fact that the group who takes the time traveling trips is a group of rich businessmen and Bradbury is saying that the fact that this type of company exists, and that people have nothing else to do with their money, is vulgar and obscene.
Bradbury, like other Science Fiction writers, such as H.G. Wells, writes about the fear of technology going too far. In this story, I think Bradbury is commenting on how technology has been misused. The technology that has allowed these time travelers to take a trip with Time Safari is clearly an expression of materialism and over consumption on the highest level.
For their personal pleasure, these people, rich people who have nothing else to do, alter the course of human evolution and nearly destroy human existence.
Therefore, the theme that Bradbury is trying to convey has to do with the Butterfly Effect and Chaos theory, which states that a small difference can have an enormous impact on future events.
"The butterfly effect is a theorem of chaos theory that small variations in the initial conditions of a dynamical system can produce large variations in the results. A Sound of Thunder. In that story, a time traveller accidentally steps on a butterfly in the distant past, causing broad changes in the present."
We are all scared of our own things, but sometimes our fears can lead to death. Ray Bradbury’s short story, “A Sound of Thunder” is overlapping the idea of fear and risk. The story is about people traveling back in time and experiencing a thrill of hunting a Tyrannosaurus. However, not everything goes easy and at the end of the day it leads to death. Ray Bradbury, being an incredible author, brilliantly portrayed Eckels and Travis. Travis, though not the main character, still is the one shooting Eckels in the end. So, Travis’s role in the play is very important, so to he is the one telling Eckels about how exactly to act and what are the consequences before hunting. Travis is acting like a guide Eckels fails to follow.
The author uses indirect characterization to describe Eckels. Eckels’s thoughts, ideas, and dialect tells the audience what type of man is portrayed.
Eckels flushed. "Where's our Tyrannosaurus?"
This action of flushing and being so enthusiastic about seeing and killing a dinosaur, shows how infantile and not serious Eckels thinks about the Tyrannosaurs.
Eckels flushed angrily. "Trying to scare me!"
This phrase once again shows that Eckels isn’t ready for what he is about to see or will ever see.
"Yes." Eckels seemed to be numb. He looked at his feet as if trying to make them move. He gave a grunt of helplessness.
This scene tells the audience that Eckels is afraid, making Eckels’s character a child-ish coward who didn’t play enough games as a kid.
"I'm innocent. I've done nothing!”
Even towards the end, when the whole expedition is full of fear, he doesn’t take the scenery as it should be – serious. Eckels is scared, and this phrase proves it. Ray Bradbury’s characterization of Eckels shows the audience that he is a coward, with no good intentions- ready for unreasonable thrill.
There are two main conflicts in the short story, “A Sound of Thunder”. The two conflicts; internal and external. However, the main conflict is external. The internal conflict would be that once Eckels saw the dinosaur he got scared, which made him stray off the path. However, the external conflict would be the fact that he strayed off the path, causing himself death, because of changing everything dramatically in the outside world. From the story, “Eckels stood smelling of the air, and there was a thing to the air, a chemical taint so subtle, so slight, that only a faint cry of his subliminal senses warned him it was there. The colors, white, grey, blue, orange, in the wall, in the furniture, in the sky beyond the window, were…were…And there was a feel. His flesh twitched. His hands twitched. He stood drinking the oddness with the pores of his body. Somewhere, someone must have been screaming one of those whistles that only a dog can hear. His body screamed silence in return. Beyond this room, beyond this wall, beyond this man who was not quite the same man seated at this desk that was not quite the same desk . . . lay an entire world of streets and people. What sort of world it was now, there was no telling. He could feel them moving there, beyond the walls, almost, like so many chess pieces blown in a dry wind...” Eckels feels the change in the air. A change that he caused.
The man behind the desk laughed. "You joking? You know very well. Deutscher…”
This external conflict- involving the whole world shows, us that the presidential election ended differently. So to, a dramatic change happened. Ray Bradbury’s consensus to the conflict caused by Eckels is his death. The only way to somehow make it different, in a sense of sympathy, is through death. So to, Eckels is shot by Travis.
The theme could be the “sound of thunder” serving as a metaphor for an unchangeable doing. Importantly, the theme ends and starts (title) the story. From the story, “There was a sound of thunder.” Just like the sound of thunder is something without an ability to come back and change, so to the action of Eckels causing an external conflict is impossible to change.
Eckels, although taught beforehand by Travis, still fails. The guide, Travis, is able to kill Eckels at the very end of the story- showing the audience that the change is actually unchangeable. Not only Travis is a guide to Eckels, but also to the readers. The conflict, whether it’s external or internal, is one of the main steps towards realizing the point in the story. Characterization, is also of no less importance providing the readers with the idea of what kind of people they are dealing with. Characterizing makes it easier, because the reader knows and gets the character better- so to it’s the same human as he or she is. Theme, being the most important one, teaches us a lesson. “A Sound of Thunder” is a brilliant writing, shows everyone that even the smallest things (butterfly) can cause dramatic changes.
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