A Sound of Thunder: The Importance of a Wary Treatment of Technological Progress

April 27, 2022 by Essay Writer

In the short story A Sound of Thunder, author Ray Bradbury’s main argument is that the decisions that may seem irrelevant at first can end up being far more serious than expected. In the story, the main character Eckles, pays $10,000 to travel back in time and hunt an extinct Tyrannosaurus Rex. During the hunt, there is a gravity path that each character must follow, as straying off this path can interrupt natural processes and cause irreversible damage in history. Regardless, Eckles manages to step off the path in a moment of panic while engaged in combat with the dinosaur. Upon returning back to the headquarters of the safari, Eckles takes notice of many changes that were not there before, such as strange smells in the air, words spelled differently, and a different president. He realizes the damage he has done right before he is shot.

This story serves as a warning to humans that the development of something like technology can have serious consequences if not utilized appropriately. It is an example of a struggle between fostering, while attempting to conserve what is human. It goes to show that the small things can really cause monumental change.

This is proven with symbolism appearing throughout the story. The sound of thunder represents Travis’ gun as well as the steps of the T Rex, the things that cause huge diversions in the plot of the story. The butterfly represents independence, which was killed when Eckles’ actions affected history. The plot experienced by the characters is ultimately one of written destiny. It is the path that must be played out in order for them to go back to their regular lives. The bullets amount to the disruption of not only the past but the future as well, all at once. Ray Bradbury maintains structure of his argument by utilizing literary devices such as irony, personification, simile, figurative language, metaphor, alliteration, and double entendre. Bradbury draws upon verbal irony. As Eckles is in the Time Safari office, he remarks, “Makes you think, if the election had gone badly yesterday, I might be here now running away from the results. Thank God Keith won. He’ll make a fine president…” (line 30). This is ironic, as it later turns out that Keith’s opponent Deutscher wins the election. Then there is the device of personification, which is giving human-like traits to something that is non human. In line 141, the phrase time steps aside is used, giving time, something that is non human, a human like quality.

Another literary device that strengthens Bradbury’s argument is figurative language, an example of this being “They sat in the ancient wilderness. Far birds’ cries below on a wind, and the smell of tar and an old salt sea, moist grasses, and flowers the colour of blood” (line 82). Moving on, Bradbury introduces various metaphors such as “the jungle was the entire world forever and forever” (line 90), “…pterodactyls soaring with cavernous gray wings, gigantic bats of delirium and night fever” (line 150), and “the seed death, the green death…” (line 26). Finally, the use of alliteration grabs the reader’s attention with the similar connotations and rhythm of the words “…glistening green and gold and…” (line 462). Lastly, one of the most powerful literary devices used is double entendre, meaning wording which is interpreted two different ways, for example “a sound of thunder” relates to the sound of the dinosaurs step, as well as the firing of the rifle that kills Eckels.

My reaction to this story is one of awe and realization. While we may collectively continue to support the advancements of society, the message in this story serves as a fair warning of what’s to come if nothing changes. The serious tone of language and use of literary devices really emphasized Bradbury’s argument and persuaded me. Additionally, this story has enhanced my perspective on humanity’s future and the dangers that it will bring.


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