A Sound of Thunder
A Juxtaposition of Gloria Skurzynski Nethergrave and Ray Bradbury’s a Sound of Thunder
Of the two selections, “A Sound Of Thunder” by Ray Bradbury and “Nethergrave” by Gloria Skurzynski, “A Sound Of Thunder” is a better example of science fiction because it involves time travelers, a time machine, and it is set in multiple points of time.
“A Sound Of Thunder” is written in such a manner that it is obviously science fiction. The beginning of the story features an actual business of taking people back in time in a time machine. Travel agents, of a sort, and their customers travel 50 million years in the past to hunt and kill a dinosaur. The paying customers are given clear instructions regarding behavior and are instructed to stay within an instructed area. Eckels, seems to have little respect for the instructions and when a bit of chaos breaks out he panics and goes out of bounds. That act of defiance caused all of history to be changed. The story also explains how time will not permit you to meet yourself, and create a paradox, it simply slips aside as though you are sidestepping yourself. In “Nethergrave”, a socially outcast boy, had returned home from a very bad day at school and soccer. He can’t wait to talk to his online friends and rushes to his computer. He knows that he disappoints them with his less than brilliant joke so when they all, suddenly, have to log off he feels a bit abandoned and guilty. He is then compelled to follow instructions given to him by someone he doesn’t know. It seems to be an interesting game until he realizes that he is no longer playing an online game but has actually become a part of this game. The extraordinary events that could never happen in real life are the parts that make these works of incredible science fiction.
In “A Sound Of Thunder” the author uses third-person point of view. A third-person point of view lets us understand why the scientist and the guide are mad at the man. If it was in first person then we would not know what the guide said while the main character was gone. In “Nethergrave” the author uses first-person point of view. The boy describes his surroundings so well that we don’t need to know what the other characters are feeling. Other characters feelings are clear to us based on other characters actions as explained by Jeremy.
The theme in “A Sound Of Thunder” is that one little tiny thing can change life as you know it. When Eckles steps on the butterfly the whole world changed. Everything he knew was replaced by a new type of life. In “Nethergrave” the theme is that the games people play or, the activities they participate in, might just be an escape from an unhappy life. Jeremy felt abandoned by his father who never saw him after his parent’s divorce, then by his mother who always worked late, and finally by his friends who ditched him right after he logged in for the day. He used the computer to forget about his real life problems and made up a new life while logged in. Ultimately, he chose to stay in that virtual world where he could be triumphant.
“A Sound Of Thunder” allows the reader to feel more involved with events within the story. Descriptions of their machines, the period they live in, and what they choose to do with their money and vacation time make the reader feel like an actual participant in the story. The reader doesn’t get that sense of participation in “Nethergrave” because it is so clearly explaining Jeremy’s feelings and reaction to events around him.
Police Should Use Body Cameras for Their Safety and Protection of Citizens and the Judiciary
“People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”- George Orwell. On any given night in your household, you might wake up at the sound of thunder cracking in a storm, or the wind howling in the trees outside your window. But what happens when you hear the sound of your door being broken down by a criminal? What do you do? Chances are, your first reaction might be to call the police. This has become common practice in our society today. However, how often do you hear a news story about a police officer shooting an unarmed suspect, and thus, igniting a massive protest. Such stories have been at the forefront of the nation’s attention, and, the news media’s attention. Yet, these court cases are always shrouded in mystery and heresy as the proceeding often disintegrate into a “he said she said” case. However, because of new technology, the public and grand juries alike will be able to see a police officer enforce the law and judge his action based on a small camera mounted on his torso. Police officers should be issued body cameras in order to protect the citizens, protect the police officers themselves, and protect the judicial process.
Body cameras on police have many advantages but one of the main reasons behind them is to protect the citizens against the risk of excessive force by a police officer. In light of the recent protests over the shootings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in Baltimore, Maryland, the public has become concerned about the conduct of police officers and the circumstances under which they exercise the use of deadly force. Obviously the advantage to having a camera mounted on an officer is that the public and the officer’s superiors can evaluate the recording, and have a clear account of the situation. The most important part of this would be that such a recording, after processing, would be a public record. This means that anyone could see and hear what actually happened in the moments leading up to an arrest or the shooting of a subject. For the citizen this means that they know what an officer says to them will be recorded and that leads to more civil exchanges between law enforcement and citizens (provided the citizens are civil in return). In fact, the city of Spokane, Washington has been implementing body cameras on police officer, and in an interview, Chief of Police Frank Straub said of the program when asked about the effect it would have on policing: “I think we’ll have a reduction in complaints. I think it will be good for both the community and the officers. Some of the mystery regarding police interactions will be gone because we will literally be able to say, “Let’s go to the videotape.””
Many however have made several arguments the benefits body cameras have for citizens, but one argument in particular I found very interesting. In an article in Time magazine, Janet Vertesi, an assistant Professor of Sociology at Princeton University, argued that our judicial system should not value the recordings on body cameras because they can still be open to interpretation and it does not guarantee that justice will be served. While compelling, this is a non-argument as supporters of body cameras are not arguing that body cameras are a panacea that will solve every case of excessive force. Rather supporters of body cameras are simply advocating that body camera recordings would be valuable evidence in a trial. Vertesi used the example of the Rodney King case in 1991. In the case, a recording was taken of several white police officers beating Rodney King, an African American. When the case against the police officers was taken to court, the tape of the beating was taken and the officers in the video were acquitted of the charge of excessive force. The author uses this example to argue that body cameras will not cause justice, therefore they are not needed. The author seems not to understand how evidence works. Like anything in our criminal justice system, body camera recordings would be open to interpretation by everyone from the officer’s superiors to a judge and grand jury. The author of the article should remember that nothing can guarantee justice but an honest trial just as it says in the Constitution.
There are benefits not just to the citizens from the use of body cameras on police, but there are benefits to the police officers themselves. In our time, the police officer is under attack literally from the everyday criminals, and from a hostile media and culture. Far too many people in society are willing to provoke police officer and then have someone else only video tape the arrest of the suspect. From there that one clip can be placed on the internet and have millions of views in a matter of hours. From there the police force has a public relations crisis and is all but forced to fire the officer in question. All of this was caused by an incident that has been blown way out of proportion. Even if it turns out that police officer was justified in his conduct, he can never have his job back and really can never show his face in his community again. This is why body cameras benefit police officers. When used properly, they record the whole incident, both the exchange before the arrest and the events that follow. The recordings cannot be tampered with, and cannot be biased like witnesses. This is the greatest benefit to police officers.
Some critics claim that the cost of outfitting every police officer would bankrupt municipal governments with the costs to purchase the cameras and the cost to maintain them. My counterargument for them is, what is more important in a city budget than paying for the security of the men in uniform? If someone is willing to put on the uniform of a police officer and risk their lives each and every day, the least the government could do is enable them to protect their reputation and preserve justice by paying for cameras.
This brings me to my last argument, that body cameras are critical to preserving the integrity of the justice process. As I have previously used as an example, if an officer makes an arrest using excessive force and someone records only the arrest, uploads it to the internet, and then public opinion on the officer even before a formal investigation can be conducted. The media and the public have become judge, jury, and jail warden. However if the incident is recorded in its entirety on a camera attached to the officer and the recording is used in a trial as evidence, then justice can be served for both the suspect in the arrest, and the officer who made the arrest. This is critical in the age of the internet because if police departments can release their own recording of the incident to the public along with a well-worded statement, they can preserve the right of a fair and impartial trial for the police officer. From there, if the grand jury decide that a police officer used excessive force or made an illegal shooting of a suspect, then he or she will answer for that crime. But mob rule should not be able to take over the justice process, because if that happens, we no longer have a fair system worth fighting for.
Although there is a great advantage to having these recordings as evidence, there are many detractors that argue that police recordings should not be viable evidence because of privacy concerns. They argue that having recordings of citizen’s dealings with the police is a violation of that citizen’s privacy rights. In fact some states like Pennsylvania, police audio recordings are not admitted into evidence during a trial, due to the fact that current laws consider police recordings an illegal wiretap but video is admissible. This can be easily solved, just make sure a police officer informs a citizen that he or she is being recorded. There are cases where a body camera has been proven to get guilty pleas for drug based and violent crimes. That to me is a great asset that we are able to take these people off the streets.
As you can see, body cameras have had and will continue to have a great impact on modern policing. As I previously stated, the use of body cameras protects the citizens from actual cases of excessive force, police officers from being falsely accused, and the justice process in both of the ways above. This is a great tool which will help to lead us to better policing and reduction of crime long into the future.
The Justification of Simon’s Death in the Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Could Simon Die?
It was a dark scary night. Nothing could be clearly seen. Loud thunder roared as thick drops of rain fell on the ground. Nothing could be heard but the sound of thunder. A group of agitated and aggressive boys danced with fear and excitement. Golding creates a certain atmosphere under which anything could happen. After the death, even the boys dont understand what had happened on that forbidding night. Piggy sums up all reasons for the death of Simon when he later says, It was dark. There was that that bloody dance. There was lightning and thunder and rain. We were scared. Golding convinces his audience that the killing of Simon is credible by using an obscure setting, mob action, and the dance.
The night was dark and so it was hard to see clearly and it was thundering so it was hard to hear anything. Golding uses this particular night for the murder of Simon, to make the murder seem credible. It was a frightening setting and the boys were scared and to lessen their fears, the boys started to dance and chant. The setting was responsible for the boys turning into a scared and restless mob. Between the flashes of lightening the air was dark and terrible. The setting is so terrifying that it even causes Ralph and Piggy to join the group under the threat of the sky. When Simon crawls out of the forest, Golding uses the word thing, it, or a beast to describe Simon. Golding is the ominous, all-knowing, narrator, yet he even uses such words, instead of Simons name, to heighten our fears and to increase the obscurity of the gloomy night. The audience, at first doesnt know for sure if it is Simon, who has crawled out of the forest and so at that point it seems credible for the boys to beat up on something that resembles a beast. To describe Simons arrival, Golding says, It came darkly, uncertainly.
The group of boys turned into a mob and it is more believable to imagine a mob, which has gotten out of control, to commit a murder than to imagine a sensible character like Ralph to take part in the committing of a murder. When it started to rain and thunder, A wave of restlessness set the boys swaying and moving aimlessly. The picture of the agitated group swaying shows a mob starting to form. All the boys were petrified of the storm and even Piggy and Ralph, under the threat of the sky, found themselves eager to take place I this demented but partly secure society. This shows that all the boys joined together into a mob instead of a scattered group to lessen the fear and insecurity. After the mention of Piggy and Ralph in the former quote, no other individual names were taken of the boys since they all had become one organism. The movement became regular while the chant lost its first superficial excitement and began to beat like a steady pulse. This sentence shows the transition between the initial restless excitement of a scattered group to the solid beat of a mob. There was the throb and stamp of a single organism. The boys were chanting and The chant rose a tone in agony. The mob became a collective mind with only one emotion; fear and Now out of the terror rose another desire, thick, urgent, blind. Golding doesnt mention the names of boys or even the group; he just says the desire to kill something rose out of terror.
The dance is something that can also be held responsible for the murder of Simon. Because of the dance, the boys became a collective mob, which later became violent. The dance was started by Jack to divert the attention of the boys from the heavy rain and loud thunder. While all the boys dance and chant, Roger pretends to be the pig and everyone became excited and started beating him. But soon, everyone became violent towards Roger and so he retreated from being pig. By this time, the boys are so excited that they could beat anything that comes their way and when Simon crawls up At once the crowd surged after it, poured down the rock, leapt on to the beast, screamed, struck, bit, tore. The game where a boy pretends to be pig such as this one, make the boys very excited and aggressive and have happened twice before. In the first one, Maurice pretended to be the pig and it is pure fun but in the second one, while Robert is pig, he is cruelly beaten. Even Ralph pinches Robert, and enjoys it, during the second game. The change in the nature of the first game and the second game cause the killing of Simon to seem credible. It is the second game that prepares us for the third one; the audience is not surprised by the violent nature displayed by the boys once Roger is pig and their increased excitement once he ceases to be the pig in the game.
Golding creates an atmosphere where the death of Simon seems possible. His vivid description of the terrifying night, the obscurity of the night, the forming of a mob and a dance that excites the boys very much, aid the audience in believing that the murder of a boy was possible.
Understanding Of Causality And Figurative Language In A Sound Of Thunder By Ray Bradbury
“A Sound of Thunder” is a science fiction short story written by Ray Bradbury, the story follows the protagonist Eckels who pays $10,000 to a time travel company called Time Safari Inc, they conduct dangerous trips which consist of taking people back to any time period to hunt animals. Specifically, Eckels wanted to travel back in time to hunt down one of the most notorious monsters that ever existed in history, the Tyrannosaurus Rex. The company has no guarantee for the safety or return of the escapades, and so to regulate these difficulties there are strict instructions and expectations for how the hunters should act once they travel back in time. His guide Travis warns the other hunters they should follow a designated path, and that interrupting the past could have irreparable repercussions in the future, even for something as simple as stepping on a mouse could have a drastic effect. However, upon seeing the Tyrannosaurus Rex up close, Eckels panicked and went off the trail killing a butterfly in the process. When he returns to the future it turns out that killing one butterfly had the effect of changing the presidential election.
The author heavily emphasizes the usage of imagery and figurative language to create the story’s mood and atmosphere as unnerving, calm, and mysterious. The explanation on the jungle is a example of when Bradbury uses imagery to depict a visual of the jungle, “Sounds like music and sounds like flying tents filled the sky, and those were pterodactyls soaring with cavernous gray wings, gigantic bats of delirium and night fever.” This allows us to form a picture in our minds as we read, and his auditory imagery enhances this experience even more because it appeals to our sense of hearing. On top of this he uses figurative language particularly personification to bring life to inanimate objects which gives the reader a more vivid picture of what is happening in the text.
Bradbury uses personification to establish a certain mood and build a more believable story as the reader will be drawn in by the emotions of the objects. Along with the imagery, with personification side by side it, the author did a good job to convey certain feelings as it is setting the atmosphere for how it’s like in the prehistoric and future setting. An example of this was when Eckels was describing how “The machine slowed; its scream fell to a murmur. The machine stopped”. The combination of both the usage of imagery and figurative language helps feed the imagination of the readers so they can be immersed in the story.
Bradbury provides an interpretation on the dangers of choices, and how one decision from the past no matter how insignificant it is, could have a rippling effect that would impact the future. He stresses the concept of causality within the story, the events in the story whether it be past, present, or future are all connected by a chain of causes and effects. According to Travis, “crushing certain plants could add up infinitesimally. A little error here would multiply in sixty years, all out of proportion…”. One event causes another, and which causes another and creates a domino effect. Due to a cause being a reason something happens, a effect would result to the consequential aftermaths of the cause. These connections further emphasize the fact that a small butterfly had such a massive effect on the world. The potential ripple effects may be over locked due to how small it is, but we seem to not consider a small decision can make a big impact. This is both empowering and frightening in a way that failure and positive change are both present in the real-life world and basically on two sides of the same coin. Although this short story is predictable due to how linear it is, I would recommend this book because the overall narrative makes it immersive and it relates to the real world.
Review Of A Sound Of Thunder By Ray Bradbury
“A Sound of Thunder” by Ray Bradbury is an interesting commentary on causality and destiny. Bradbury, who was well-known for his science fiction stories, utilizes the concept of time travel to demonstrate how our decisions have great consequences. The story explores themes relating to the Butterfly Effect, which states that the flutter of a butterfly’s wings can cause a hurricane on the other side of the world. This story studies the idea of actions and their consequences, by showing how even the tiniest change can create a ripple effect that causes major disruptions to some preordained destiny.
Set in 2055, “A Sound of Thunder” tells the story of a man named Eckels who embarks on a safari sixty million years in the past with the goal of killing a Tyrannosaurus Rex. He begins the journey mostly confident in his hunting abilities, but the moment he lays his eyes on the enormous creature, he becomes numb from shock. In his terrified state, he does the one thing he was directed not to do; he steps foot off of the Path. Now I know this may not seem life altering, but as it turns out, touching even a single blade of grass off the Path can change the course of history. Once the group returns to the present, Eckels notices a dead butterfly under his shoe. His unintentional killing of the butterfly ultimately changes the course of history as they knew it. I enjoyed this short story because the author delivered the message in an entertaining way. The sci-fi elements mixed with vivid descriptions of the scenes made for an engaging read. I liked the overall storyline, although in my opinion, there are always technicalities with time travel. No, I don’t mean the whole altering the future thing, but rather I find myself questioning the logic and justification of why one thing might change the future drastically, but another thing won’t. I guess I am just skeptical of the randomness of it all. Nonetheless, the author provided enough detail that my imagination was able to fill in the missing pieces of the practicality of the situation.
I’d have to say that my favourite part of the story was the clever use of imagery. I found that the symbolism allowed the story to be more relatable. The main symbol of the butterfly was a clear allusion to the Butterfly Effect, and got the point across that small things can make large impacts. When Eckels noticed the impact his action had in the present time, he said, “Not a little thing like that! Not a butterfly!’. The irony of the situation is that killing a giant that “towered thirty feet above half of the trees, a great evil god, folding its delicate watchmaker’s claws close to its oily reptilian chest” caused no change, while killing a mere butterfly completely reshaped history. This message really resonated with me because it shows how even though you may think your actions are insignificant, they make a greater impact than you believe. Tying into the topic of symbolism, I have to mention a significant element of the story; the Path. To me, the Path represents destiny. Eckels is explicitly warned never to leave the path, yet he did and that’s what caused the proverbial dominoes to fall. Just like our own destiny, the path “Doesn’t touch so much as one grass blade”. It is untouchable. This shows that destiny is written for us, and it’s not something we can go back in time and change. The debate as to whether humans have a preset destiny or not is complicated, but because of the symbolism surrounding the Path, I believe the author is saying that we shouldn’t try to mess with destiny.
One final point I’d like to discuss; although politics is not a topic I tend to bring up, I do like that the author added it to the story. It brings a sense of reality to the setting and provides a good example of the effects of Eckel’s small mistake on a larger scale. I’m sure there have been elections that many of us wish we could go back in time to change the results, but in Eckel’s case, it changed for the worse. This is definitely more of a significant change than the spelling of the Time Safari Inc. sign, and it really demonstrates how his incident will affect society. This is the only result that I really enjoyed because other than that, I believe that the ending was unremarkable and an unsatisfactory conclusion to the story. For such a large buildup, I found it to be a quick ending that provides little information on the consequences of each character’s actions. All in all, I would recommend this story. It was packed with tension, fear, and clever imageries that had me wanting to read more. Although there were times when I found myself skimming over the lengthy descriptions to get to the point, it was overall an engaging story that really allowed me to picture the scenes in my head. Most of all, the main takeaway was evident, it’s the little things that sometimes make the biggest difference.
- Ray Bradbury, A Sound of Thunder, in R is for Rocket, (New York: Doubleday, 1952)
Comparison Of A Sound Of Thunder By Ray Bradbury And Nethergrave By Gloria Skurzynski As A Science Fiction
The following essay is my opinion in comparison of two stories that are classified as Science Fiction. A Sound of Thunder, by Ray Bradbury and Nethergrave by Gloria Skurzynski are two stories that use technology and science to express events that surround a specific character. A Sound of Thunder, is a science fiction story about Eckels, a man who desires to go on a hunting expedition back in the age of dinosaurs. For this to be accomplished his journey includes time travel by way of a time machine. The main message relayed in this story is that even the littlest of changes back in time can make a huge difference in humanity’s future. In Nethergrave, the reader is deeply taken into the personal mind and life of Jeremy, a lonely young man who enters the reality of the virtual world. His adventure brings focus to how one’s judgment regarding trust can be taken too far. Both stories end with the characters being taken away due to their choices and desires. Eckles is killed back in time and Jeremy is lost forever in the virtual world.
Nethergrave gives the reader a closer connection to the characters involved and in a more believable setting. Being side-by-side within Jeremy’s mind and personal life made it much easier for me to be a part of the story as a reader. The connection he had with his online friends and the details of his choices made it personal. Though both stories have their flaws regarding reality, Nethergrave, was more believable than A Sound of Thunder and its time machine in my opinion and therefore a better representation of Science Fiction. I will compare both stories and how in my opinion, they support the Science Fiction themes of, Time Travel, Faster Than Light Travel, and Parallel Universe with an emphasis on why I believe Nethergrave is over all, the better Science Fiction story.
Considering the Science Fiction theme of Time Travel, there is no doubt that, A Sound of Thunder, rates higher in representation of this Science Fiction theme over Nethergrave, since the story involves a Time Machine. Even the definition of Time Travel is typically associated with the use of a time machine. However the concept of time travel by way of a time machine is very outdated in comparison to other science fiction themes in my opinion and is more in line with far fetched fantasy.
A Parallel Universe also known as an alternate reality, is an existence that co-exists with one’s own. Nethergrave perfectly exemplifies this theme. For example when Jeremy is in communication with the unknown voice from within his computer. At 1st he rationalizes the voice as a feature his father must have added to the computer before it was given to him. He soon finds out the voice and all connected to it is from another realm or dimension occurring alongside his own existence. Now this is an example of true Science Fiction with a huge twist of intrigue. The idea alone is thrilling compared to an outdated time Machine even though the themes of Time Travel and Parallel Universe do cross lines.
Faster Than Light Travel, is another hypothetical propagation and Pseudoscience belief that is considered scientific, but has no scientific fact. All three of these Scientific Themes are related to each other. For example, faster than light travel would be necessary for time travel to occur which would include arriving at a parallel universe. Taking Into consideration that Science Fiction is truly only theory makes it hard to declare which story is more representative of Science Fiction based on comparing each story and how it may better support these 3 scientific themes as they all overlap and intertwine with one another.
My conclusion of why Nethergrave is a better representation of Science Fiction has nothing to do with the 3 scientific themes I have compared but rather the writer’s ability to bring me into the story in a believable way. Both stories are well written, but the writer of A Sound of Thunder places me in an unbelievable scenario of fantasy from its beginning partly due to the outdated and harder to conceive of idea of the Time Machine. The writer of Nethergrave managed to pull me into the story naturally which for me changed the entire experience. I was no longer reading a theoretical Science Fiction story but found myself in the moment, a part of it. If a writer of Science Fiction can achieve this feeling within the reader, in my opinion, that story is by default a better representation of Science Fiction regardless of specific Science Fiction themes compared to another story that has not achieved this same experience.
A Look at the Character of the Three Hunters in “The Most Dangerous Game” and “A Sound of Thunder”
Richard Connell and Ray Bradbury introduce the reader to experienced hunters who share three common character traits in their short stories. After comparing and contrasting character traits among Rainsford and Zaroff from Connell’s short story “The Most Dangerous Game,” and Eckels from Bradbury’s, “A Sound of Thunder,” one sees that the best hunter of the group is Rainsford. While each character possesses patience, observancy, and the ability to handle pressure, Rainsford uses these traits in the wisest and most proficient manner. Hunters need many different assets, yet patience is one of the most important.
The key to being a successful hunter is being patient. Rainsford demonstrates his patience in many ways during the three days of the most dangerous game. Unlike Rainsford, Eckels shows no patience on his own hunt millions of years prior: “Out of the mist a hundred yards away, came the Tyrannosaurus rex” (Bradbury 84). Rainsford’s patience is the key factor that separates him from Eckels, who becomes frantic during the hunt. Through Ship Trap Island, Zaroff is able to portray his patience as well. Eckels, on the contrary, cannot attain the same sense of imperturbability, because he constantly asks questions: “Eckels flushed. Where’s our Tyrannosaurus?” (Bradbury 84). Zaroff has the ability to slowly guide a ship to provide more participants in the most dangerous game, unlike Eckels, whose prey comes running at him. Eckels simply has no patience, a sharp contrast to both Zaroff and Rainsford. To demonstrate his dedication and commitment, Zaroff says, “So I bought this island, built this house, and here I do my hunting. (Connell 21) Eckels’ lack of patience is unfit for a task such as the most dangerous game. Rainsford’s patience is greater than that of both Zaroff and Eckels. Being patient is a useful trait, but without keen observance, all chances of success are dashed.
While hunting, being observant of your surroundings and enemies can mean the difference between life and death. Rainsford makes use of his senses by observing the environment of Ship Trap Island and using it to his advantage. Eckels however, fails to use the natural environment 60,002,055 years in the past, “A sound on the floor of the time machine stiffened them. Eckels sat there shivering.” (Bradbury 86). While Eckels can barely walk through the forest without getting himself killed, Rainsford has the ability to use his surroundings to injure and kill his enemies. Zaroff can be observant as well, but his skills are not honed as precisely as those of Rainsford. While not up to par with Rainsford, Zaroff is still more observant than Eckels, who is constantly corrected by the leaders of the hunt, “Stay on the path. Stay on the path!” (Bradbury 84). Zaroff scours the path for bits of information, while Eckels can barely keep on it. Eckels has no skill of observing, nearly meeting death on several occasions. Rainsford is quite the opposite, using many parts of nature to his advantage, “… the dead tree, delicately adjusted to rest on the cut living one, crashed down and struck the general a glancing blow…” (Connell 27). Eckels lack of observancy is the polar opposite of Rainsford, and this puts his life at risk. While Rainsford uses many aspects of the jungle to put him ahead, Zaroff and Eckels fall behind. Despite one’s skills of making traps and observing the wild, pressure can make or break a person.
Handling pressure can lead anyone to succeed, but failing to do so can result in disastrous conclusions. Of the three, Rainsford deals with pressure in the most effective manner. Unlike Eckels, who stumbles and almost gets himself killed during the hunt for the tyrannosaurus with Lesperance, Rainsford makes sound decisions in matters of life and death, “Eckels! He took a few steps blinking, shuffling. Not that way!” (Bradbury 85). Rainsford is not only able to survive the strikes of those who attack him, but actually manages to kill them under intense pressure. Zaroff is also able to deal with the stress that comes with pressure. Zaroff perseveres through pressure and is able to keep a calm disposition, unlike Eckels, who loses his confidence during the hunt, “”It can’t be killed,” Eckels pronounced this verdict quietly, as if there could be no argument.” (Bradbury 85). Zaroff uses his knowledge of past experiences to stay calm and continue the hunt. Unlike the other two, Eckels cannot handle pressure. Rainsford displays the polar opposite of Eckels untimely actions. “His mind worked frantically. He thought of a native trick he learned in Uganda… “The knife, driven by the recoil of the springing tree, had not wholly failed.” (Connell 28). While Rainsford uses all of his time to his advantage, Eckels fails to comply. Rainsford uses every second he has to make a positive situation for himself, while Zaroff and Eckels are not as capable of attaining such perfection.
Comparison of Two Short Stories: a Sound of Thunder and Harrison Bergeron
Heroism, a word derived by the Greek hērōs, originally alluded to a demigod. A demigod is a man who is both admired and respected due to being born into royalty. Time progressed, and now, heroism is simply defined as great bravery or valor. Eckels from “A Sound of Thunder” and Harrison, who is a character in a story titled “Harrison Bergeron”, are two characters who display this trait of dauntlessness either extremely well or terribly.
In “A Sound of Thunder”, Eckels is the opposite of a hero. Through his actions and words, it is clear that Eckels lacks bravery and withholds cowardice. He is constantly running away from any sort of problem or obstacle. It seems as though he is a very nervous person; supporting this statement, page thirty-seven says, “Eckels swayed on the padded seat, his face pale, his jaw stiff. He felt the trembling in his hands and found his hands tight on the new rifle.” It is clear through his nervous ticks that he is very tense and uneasy. As the story goes on, it is said that he tries to get his feet to move, but he fails. If someone is calm and collected, they usually would have no problem with walking. Lastly, he changes the whole world he lives in every single day in one of the worst ways possible. He runs off the path that was intended to keep those on the trip to not alter the future in any way, and he steps on a butterfly. From that one, small action, he is the reason why the English language was slightly altered, why people behave differently, and why Deutsher won the election instead of Keith. He displays little to no heroic traits, and it could be said that he is the antithesis of a hero.
Harrison from “Harrison Bergeron” could be easily seen as a hero for three reasons. The first reason is that he escapes from jail, which he was put in for being too powerful, and stands up to a government who is against individuality. While doing this, the second reason becomes evident. Harrison comes across a number of people whose talents were taken from them. He commands that the dancers dance, the musicians play, and that everyone show off their talents. Lastly, Harrison is doing all of this when he knows the possible consequence, which is death. He essentially dies in hopes that people could have their handicaps removed, and be noticed for their special qualities that reside within them.
Eckels and Harrison are noticeably different when it comes to what it means to display heroism. Although they both have fairly good intention, Harrison is the epitome of a hero, while Eckels could not be more opposite.
Assessment of Ray Bradbury’s Work: the Pedestrian, a Sound of Thunder and Embroidery
Read The Pedestrian, A sound of Thunder and Embroidery. What image of the future does Bradbury portray?
In my opinion in these three stories Ray Bradbury’s view of the future paints a very bleak and depressing picture. By disturbing his readers with his stories and views he encourages people to be challenged about the way society is changing and what may happen as a result of the way technology is advancing. Reading Bradbury’s stories gives us an insight into how technology uncontrolled can devastate our lives and lead to humanity becoming secondary in importance.
In ‘The Pedestrian’, ‘Leonard Mead’ Bradbury’s main character is seen going out for a walk on a November evening. He is the only person out as everyone else in this story set in 2053, is sat in their own houses like robots addicted to the television. People were not individuals any more, reading books and magazines had ceased as technology had taken over. Bradbury uses the image of death a lot in this story including using the time setting of winter time, everything being cold and dark.
“And on his way he would see the cottages and homes with their dark windows and it was not unequal to walking through a graveyard where only the faintest glimmers of firefly light appeared in flickers behind the windows.” (The Pedestrian)
Bradbury writes about walking as if in a graveyard and the houses being like tombs. People are hiding behind the walls of their homes like zombies. This has been happening for years with no difference. ‘Mead’ has for the past ten years gone out for a walk every evening and never met anyone before. He walks past one house and thinks he may hear the sound of laughter, but then moves on because he hears nothing more.
Bradbury portrays ‘Mead’ being as an ‘alien’ in a strange land. He appears to want to live a different kind of lifestyle to the rest of the society he is living in. ‘Mead’ seems like he is the last vestige of humanity in a society of soulless people. He would like some company and to have interaction with other people. However, in this view of the future none is forthcoming and isolation and desolation are all around. Nobody is out on the streets, people are not leaving their homes and the highways are empty at night even though during the day everywhere was a mass of busyness and activity.
“During the day it was a thunderous surge of cars, the gas stations open, and a great insect rustling and a ceaseless jockeying for position as the scarab-beetles, a faint incense puttering from the exhausts, skimmed homeward to the far directions. But now these highways, too, were like streams in a dry season, all stone and bed and moon radiance. (The Pedestrian)
Technological progress has become so much a part of the world in 2053 that humanity isn’t even needed in policing in the city as is shown in ‘Meads’ interaction with the police. He has a conversation with and subsequently is arrested by a driverless computerised car. The car portrays the advancements of the age; it is a robot speaking with a ‘metallic’, ‘phonograph’ voice, emphasising the impersonal emotional coldness and harshness of the age. In this glimpse of the future it is not understood why someone would want to be out just going for a walk, wanting to get some fresh air on an evening. Bradbury’s view is that things have become very negative, remote and cut off from normality that somebody could be arrested just for being out of their home going for a walk at night.
In ‘Embroidery’ it seems that Bradbury uses the story to make a political statement about the destruction of civilisation by a nuclear explosion. This story was written in 1951, shortly after the end of WW2 and at a time when this sort of catastrophe was very much in people’s minds. Bradbury uses the fear that people have regarding nuclear warfare and the end of the world to get across a message about how things could be in the future. The women in the story are acting as though this thing is inevitable and that there is nothing that they can do about it but sit and wait.
The word picture painted at the beginning of the story is a domestic scene which could have been taken from any day of that era. The women sitting as a group sewing, talking and reminiscing about the past. However they do seem to be aware of impending doom. The story indicates that these ‘experiments’ have happened before, but that this time it is different and the outcome is not known. Bradbury’s story leaves the reader feeling that if nuclear experimentation in this way occurs the experiments could get bigger and bigger just to see what might happen, until they got out of hand. But that the general public would be powerless to do anything to stop them.
“And they’re not sure what it’ll do to anything, really, when it happens?”
“No, not sure.”
“Why didn’t we stop them before it got this far and this big?”
“It’s twice as big as ever before. No, ten times, maybe a thousand.”
This isn’t like the first one or the dozen later ones. This is different. No body knows what it might do when it comes.” (Embroidery)
Bradbury builds an image that society has made no effort to try and stop the destruction. As the women said, “Why didn’t we stop them before it got this far and this big?” Highlighted is the fact that society has also failed to prevent this from happening. From their talk we see that the women place some sort of blame upon themselves, despite the fact they were likely never directly involved. But he also indicates that people’s apathy is due to the fact that they don’t think they have a choice but to accept it. ‘Modernity’ is tunnelling on, regardless of the consequences.
The future according to Bradbury in ‘A sound of thunder’ set in 2055 is very different to life of today. In this story of the future money and technology are the main influences in the world, with Bradbury indicating that the fragile state of the world can be changed by those who have the money to pay for what they want.
…he put his hand slowly out upon the air, and in that hand waved a check for ten thousand dollars….
…I’ll pay anything. A hundred thousand dollars… (The Sound of Thunder)
In this story technology is used to travel back in time and the chosen era is prehistoric with the main aim being to hunt dinosaurs. It seems very far- fetched and unbelievable.
In the story Bradbury acknowledges that the world is fragile and the balance of nature could easily be damaged and the course of the world changed in a big way by something seemingly small and insignificant happening. Yet at the same time power and money have the final say. Down to time travel people can go back to an era before man was even existent on the earth to hunt long extinct animals for fun.
The main thing that Bradbury shows in all three of these stories about the future is that we have a lack of knowledge, that nobody knows what affect the things we do and the changes we make in technological advancements will ultimately have on society.
The Consequence of Making a Choice as Illustrated by Ray Bradbury In, a Sound of Thunder
Making Decisions: Life’s True Gambling
People may not recognize it, but the greatest power that one can possess is the ability to make decisions. Some choices are made with diligent planning, while others are done in haste. And yet, no matter how careful or careless a choice is made, it nonetheless leaves an impact on the entire world. It is convinced therefore that every decision made must be reconsidered as much possible before action is commenced; as every and any act comes with foreseeable or unforeseeable consequences. With these consequences comes a definite responsibility, holding who made the choice accountable. Contained with such knowledge, the average person may come across a certain doubt of how far a decision affects one’s surroundings. In his greatest effort to understand the extent of one’s choices in life, author Ray Bradbury generates a scenario based on decision-making in the past that alters the future in his sci-fi short story, A Sound of Thunder. Eckels, the protagonist, gets more than he bargains for when he signs up for a dinosaur hunt, fueled with curiosity supplied by an awe-inspiring Time Machine. However, Eckels not only fails to hunt his prey—the Tyrannosaurus Rex—but unknowingly changes the past, when returning to the present he finds that stepping on a insignificant butterfly meant altering time, and thus a new future. Overall, Bradbury conveys the message of how decisions play a role in life, often through the understanding the extent of one’s choices, acceptance of responsibility with positive or negative repercussions, and attempt to atone for actions shown to be unfavorable, even if proven impossible.
Every decision has its own set of positive and negative consequences. No matter how significant or trivial it may appear to be, in the end every choice made presents itself with effects made on those responsible and people/surroundings around him/her. The tricky part with decision-making, however, is that not every effect can be accounted for, such as during Time travel: “Maybe Time can’t be changed by us. Or maybe it can be changed only in little subtle ways…Who knows…We don’t know…But until we do know for certain whether or not messing around in Time can make a big roar or a little rustle in history, we’re being careful” (Bradbury 4). Not knowing the possibilities that could alter the future, Travis—the hunting party leader—constantly reminds the rest of the party not to disrupt the contemporary surroundings. Although altering the future seems ungraspable, especially to Eckels, making any decision could mean potential big impacts towards the present and ultimately the future. With that in mind, it is important for the party to stay on a “path”: “The stomp of your foot…could start an earthquake, the effects of which could shake our earth and destinies throughout Time, to their foundations…So be careful Stay on the Path. Never step off “(3)! Travis repetitively repeats to stay on the Path to avoid unfavorable acts to occur, such as disrupting animal/plant species. Likewise, in every effort to protect those around and the unknown future, one must take care in making the most crucial of decisions by staying on the right “Path” of conscience. In one’s lifetime, there will come times of poor and great decisions, in which every case one must accept the repercussions.
One must accept responsibility for his/her actions, especially if one of poor choice.
Making a decision for oneself may seem minimal, but may actually affect other people or surroundings. Eckels demonstrates how a situation could go awry when one does not take responsibility for his/her decisions: “We were fools to come here. This is impossible…I miscalculated, that’s all. And now I want out” (6). Beforehand, when first encountering the Time Safari Corporation, he is asked if he is willing to hold himself in any situation; if not he would be forced to rip up his check. By not doing so, Eckels holds himself accountable for letting himself go on a trip that he himself considers “risky” and “unclear”, as well as to follow the protocol of staying on the Path and listening to the hunt party leader. Commenting on the Tyrannosaurus—his supposed “prey”—his sense of responsibility flees. However, he does not put in consideration the extent of his decision. What appears as an individual decision to save oneself inevitably turns into a high collective risk for the other hunters. Also, his ignoring of not leaving the Path puts the possibility of changing Time at risk. And yet, he feels no accountability, as he is unaware of the repercussions. If Eckels had only knew the extent of his ultimate mistake of leaving the path would Eckels readily atone for it.
No matter how one can try, mistakes cannot be taken back. Whether made in the past, present, or future, decisions and their repercussions establish lasting effects on those responsible and the people around them. When returning to the present from the Time Machine, Eckels finds that his “stomp of his foot” on a seemingly insignificant butterfly causes a perversion of the present: “It couldn’t change things. Killing a simple butterfly couldn’t be that important” (10). By killing a simple, ordinary butterfly in the past, Eckels unknowingly changes the present, most evident of the election of the dictatorial candidate Deutscher over competent candidate Keith, in which it is Keith who wins the original election As the chance that an unforeseeable consequence may arise from altering a subtle portion of the past proves true, Eckels wishes for a second chance: “Can’t we take it back, can’t we make it alive again” (10). Despite not knowing the consequences to the fullest when back in the past, Eckels should have understood that only by following the direction of staying on the Path may have prevented any radical change. By disregarding that one important rule, Eckels makes a mistake that no matter what could not be changed or altered. However, Eckels—showing his remorse—humbly asks for a way to fix his mistake. With no way to repair what has occurred, Eckels pays the ultimate price of death. Although one may want to think that the humility to fix one’s mistake would be successful alone, in the reality no amount of guilt can change any decision made, nor affect any action transpired.
During a lifetime one makes many choices. Although one always tries to do what is best—staying on the Path—one is still vulnerable to imperfect decisions. However, humility comes to those who admit and attempt to atone for their mistakes, even when they prove to be irreversible. A terrible example of responsibility, Eckels shines a powerful light on the negative repercussions of not following “the Path” of one’s life. Not only does he directly put at risk the hunting party by leaving them to fend against a Tyrannosaurus, he also adds on the preventable risk of altering the past by leaving the Path, despite the many reminders against such an action. He does these things only to save his own life! However, in another aspect, Eckels demonstrates well the quality of humility in his realization of his mistake of altering Time—primarily the presidential electing of a dictator over a political savior—and longing for atonement. He asks for penitence by wanting to go back in Time, but instead pays the ultimate price with death. It would seem sufficient of allowing him to reverse his sin because of his guilt, but in reality he is not given the opportunity to alter his choices. Although it may seem initially unfair, one would have to ponder what would become of a world where mistakes could be taken back; where any action could be atoned for or even reversed.