Eckels is a wealthy hunter who pays a grand ten thousand dollars to the Time Safari Inc. for taking a trip to the past; in his quest to hunt the extinct Tyrannosaurus Rex. Eckels is clarified before his trip that the company does not assure anything except the dinosaurs. He also talks about the recent presidential election with the man behind the desk in which they both share their satisfaction for Keith winning the election over Deutscher and freeing them from despairs of wrong dictatorship. Travis, the hunting guide leads Eckels to the Time Machine in which he meets Travis’s assistant, Lesperance and the two other hunters, Billings, and Kramer. When the Time Machine reaches the past, Travis and Lesperance warn Eckels about the consequences that may occur in the future due to a tiny alteration they make in the past. Death of a tiniest animal or transfer of any bacteria to their surrounding may reshape the entire future in which they once existed. To prevent any type of interaction with the environment, Travis explains their clothes being sterilized and oxygen helmets being worn. He adds to walk along the Path laid by Time Safari which floats six inches above the Earth to keep them from touching the world of the past in their way. Travis describes that their prey was tagged with red paint; which had been marked by Lesperance in his previous visits by calculating its time of actual death, which would’ve been sooner by the time they shoot it down. This would’ve killed only those animals which were bound to die anyways.
Despite his excitement and restlessness in the beginning of the tour, Eckels lose his control and shake down to nervousness when they catch up with the gigantic Tyrannosaurus Rex. In spite of Travis directing Eckels to calmly return to the Machine by their Path, he trembles with his fearsome heart to cross their Path into a different direction. The beast roars forward with aggression and gunshots fire at it recklessly, to which the Monster finally falls in a sigh causing the thunder to fade. Right after the silence, a gigantic tree branch falls upon the dead beast which Lesperance summons to be the original cause of its death. Upon their return to the Time Machine, they find Eckels who had somehow found his way back to their Path and to the Machine. Having Eckels broken the rules and stepped outside the Path, Travis threatens Eckels to remove the bullets from the dead Monster’s body, in compensation to allow him to travel with them to the present. Eckels agrees to his terms however, Travis persists the temper of killing Eckels for the disaster he might’ve made.
Once they return back to 2055 and assume everything to have gone fine, Eckels notices bizarre changes that may have occurred while they had been gone. The first thing he notices is the man behind the desk who was the same but acted like he was not. Eckels immediately detects the sign painted on the office wall which instead of reading the usual English spelled oddly. Quickly after he glances over the dirt on his boots, he unravels a colorful butterfly which he remarks to be very beautiful yet very dead. In astonishment, Eckels also finds that Deutscher has defeated Keith in the recent election. The death of butterfly from the past has created a chain of events causing the present to be shifted from what they had once left in the beginning of the Safari tour. Eckels breaks down into emotions and pleads to return the butterfly to the past; to restart everything from where they had started. Silence invades the entire room and what Eckels finally hears is Travis’s breaths, the crackling sound of his gun and to put an end on it “a sound of thunder”.
“A Sound of Thunder” significantly reveals the importance of time. The improper use of the Time Machine casts a huge impact on Eckels as well as everyone surrounding him. Though Eckels and the Safari team are able to travel back to the past, they are bound to follow the Path without disturbing the world of the past. This conceptualizes that the actions taken in past affect the present and that taken in present affects the future. Eckels plead to reverse things and return the butterfly back to its time, however, things do not tend to work like that. Time is irreversible; what happened cannot be changed. This story also signifies that death is inevitable. The dinosaur which the Safari team shot to death was anyhow supposed to die one way or another. None can defy death. Time and death are two unstoppable forces which lend no sympathies or favors to anyone.
“A Sound of Thunder” reflects the theory of the “butterfly effect”. Travis explains Eckels the consequences if they accidentally kill a mouse in the past. The prior consequences reveal the destruction of the future families of that particular mouse, which contributed to the death of other billion possible mice, and then the death of billion possible foxes which may have to survive on those mice, and then the death of billion lions and then the insects, vultures and infinite billions of other life forms. Ultimately years after, when a caveman goes for hunting a wild boar or tiger for food, he finds nothing because they had stepped on a single tiny mouse. The point is the interconnections among living organisms and the effects of one silly action in the past bringing the entire future to an end. Eckels faces a situation alike when he finds he had stepped on a beautiful butterfly when they were in the past, which now seems to have altered the present they have been living in. Bradbury successfully delivers the truth highlighting how people selfishly destruct the natural life cycles of other innocent organisms in their playful gestures which then stimulates nothing but devastations for mankind in generations ahead.
Bradbury authentically stuns the readers with the magnificent use of the details on the Tyrannosaurus Rex and the “butterfly effect”. Anyone who reads this story is bound to feel the thrills and excitements as one action leads to another, and not to forget the ending which keeps them wrapped in guesswork of what might’ve happened. “A sound of thunder” which is described as what has been heard at the end of the story itself creates boundless mysteries held with numerous questions. This story represents the art of science fiction which brilliantly matches with the attitudes of people towards time and nature. In spite of acclaims for this beautifully written story, the idea of time traveling for hunting down extinct species for fun is quite unbelievable. Wouldn’t someone who could travel through time be more careful, perhaps do something useful to prevent evilness in the future? On the other hand, the government in spite of knowing that the Time Safari Inc. had been victimizing the lives of many through time traveling led no constrictions to their doings; which may not have been satisfying to numerous readers. “A Sound of Thunder” reflects the scenario which might actually occur in the years ahead as technology keeps growing and new ideas keep germinating. Nonetheless, the complexities of the story referring traveling through time and “butterfly effect” confuse some readers and might leave them struggling to understand the theme and plots of the story.
“A Sound of Thunder” witnesses the probable future of the world. This story alerts people about the future depending upon the present. In addition, it also links the “butterfly effect”- the chains formed by living organisms in the environment, with the human actions. After reading this story, a sensation of responsibility towards nature automatically generates. The world we live in is a complex association of humans and their interactions with nature. A slight carelessness made by a person with the natural cycle of the world may lead to a future of pitch darkness. The unpredictable future holds the lives of generations ahead. In caution to destroying the world and fading the happiness, humans must be able to recognize the hidden potentials in each organism surrounding them. This story exquisitely implies to improve the obscene behavior of humans toward their surroundings.
Nissani, Moti and Shreedhar Lohani. A Sound of Thunder. Ekta Publication, 2013.