Human action and the effects through time—that’s what perplexed Ray Bradbury, and what he sought to examine in his short story “A Sound of Thunder.” First published in Collier’s magazine in 1952, this short story eventually made it into Bradbury’s collection The Golden Apples of the Sun the following year.
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But back to the questions at hand: if we went back, and took different actions, would there be different effects through time? Would we affect and be affected by people differently? What would the outcome be?
So, if you find yourself wondering “What is The Sound Of Thunder about?”, then you’ve come to the right place. We’re here to tell you that and what the theme is in The Sound Of Thunder.Synopsis of Bradbury’s The Sound Of Thunder
Ray Bradbury is best known for warning humanity of the possibilities of technological advances. His entire repertoire of stories is about humanity struggling between advancing, while attempting to retain what makes them human. “A Sound of Thunder” is no different. He’s obsessed with the consequences of action.
Set in 1955, a company called Time Safari, Inc. lets people travel to the past for $10,000. A hunter, Eckels, pays the price, excited to go shoot some dinosaurs. Although he’s warned that his safety can’t be guaranteed, Eckels insists that he’s fine with it, because there will be dinosaurs there.
While waiting for the trip to start, Eckels meets a company employee and they get to talking. Speaking about the recent election, it is mentioned that Keith, the moderate presidential candidate was elected over Deutscher, an anti-everything man. If the election was different, people would be running to the time machine.
The conversation ends when Travis, the tour guide, and his assistant Lesperance eventually meet Eckels. Together, along with two other hunters, Billings and Kramer, get into the time machine.
When they arrive, Travis makes it clear: shoot only the dinosaurs marked, and stay on the path, made out of anti-gravity metal. Explained in detail, it is said that they are on a path that hovers above the ground in order to keep them from accidentally messing anything up in the past. And what about the dinosaurs they’ll be shooting at? They were going to die soon anyway!
A sound of thunder is heard, and they see a T-Rex. Eckels gets shocked, moves in the wrong direction, gets the dinosaur’s attention, and then they all shoot it dead. When they get back to the time machine, they see mud on Eckels’ boots. He stepped off the path. An enraged Travis threatens to leave him in the past, unless he collects the bullets from the dinosaur, which they can’t leave.
To try and make things right, Eckels goes back to collect the bullets. When he returns, he’s covered in blood, and he passes out. Travis threatens to kill Eckels, but instead they just clean up and go back to the present.
When they get back to the present, things seem… off. The man behind the desk at Time Safari, Inc. is acting a little funny. And there’s a funny smell in the air. A sign on the wall is spelled differently.
How Does Bradbury’s The Sound Of Thunder End?
Panicking, Eckels checks his boots. He’s killed a butterfly with his boot. Turns out, Deutscher won the election, a man whom they believe will be a dictator. Trying to undo what’s been done, Eckels begs to go back in time. But instead, Travis comes into the room and shoots him.Symbolism in The Sound Of ThunderA sound of thunder is used to represent the T-Rex steps and Travis’s gun. The two things that cause giant turns in the story.The path they’re supposed to stay on is written destiny. It’s the path that needs to be taken in order to get back to their normal lives.The bullets represent the disturbance of the past, and future, all at once.Summary Of The Sound Of Thunder
Ray Bradbury hit the mark: sometimes it’s the little things that change everything. Choices and actions that might seem insignificant upon first glance might end up being far more serious than expected. And the advances of things like technology can have serious repercussions. They all pay $10,000, have to walk on a set path, and follow a tour guide. Despite the precautions, and the advancement of it all, they cannot help the small things.
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