A Sound of Thunder – Ray Bradbury Essay Sample

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If you were given the opportunity to travel back in time would you? Does a small change in the past have a significant effect in the future? People often say to be mindful of your actions as there are always consequences that follow. Bradbury uses his short story “A Sound of Thunder”, to convey a theme that a minuscule disruption of one element could be catastrophic. To enhance this theme the author uses allusions, juxtaposition and symbolism.

Allusion is a literary device that makes reference to other events, place or other literary work. Bradbury makes use of this throughout this story. He mentions extremely significant events throughout history which all have their own important story. The character, Travis, describes the time they have just travelled through as they arrive at the jungle: “” Christ isn’t born yet.” Travis said, “Moses has not gone to the mountains to talk with God. The pyramids are still in the earth, waiting to cut out and put up. Remember that Alexander, Caesar, Napoleon, Hitler-none of them exists.”” (Bradbury, 2).

In this quotation, Bradbury brings emphasis to how far back in time the men have travelled. The events he highlights are all monumental through time and each has impacted life. Travis, in this discussion, mentions the story of Adam and Eve when he alludes to Adam’s grandchildren. He says, “Destroy this one man and you destroy a race, a people, an entire history of life. It is comparable to slaying some of Adam’s grandchildren.” (Bradbury, 3). Bradbury is now talking about the creation of men and how it is extremely important not to alter the past in any seemingly insignificant way. In fact, the hunter’s trip back in time and the unnatural death of a tiny butterfly ends up making a significant difference in the course of history. Hence this one natural elements death impacts the future.

Another literary device that Bradbury uses in this story is juxtaposition, where he contrasts large and small and good and evil. The Tyrannosaurus Rex is a gigantic dinosaur that is Eckels prey in the story. It is described as, “… thirty feet above half of the tress… each lower leg was a piston, a thousand pounds of white bone…” (Bradbury, 5).One may think this enormous beast is indestructible but its death has no impact on the course of history. In contrast to this beast, Bradbury goes on to describe a minuscule butterfly: ““Embedded in the mud, glistening and very dead. “Not a little thing like that! Not a butterfly!” cried Eckels… Killing one butterfly couldn’t be that important.”” (Bradbury, 10). In fact the death of this seeming insignificant butterfly actually does alters history. Bradbury no only juxtapose large and small but adds a twist by making this small more important.

In addition, the comparison of good and evil is present when Bradbury describes, Keith and Deustcher. Both of these men were contenders for the Presidency of The United States. Eckels says, “Thank God Keith won. He’ll make a fine president of The United States… If Deustcher had gotten in, we’d have the worst kind of Dictatorship… a militarist, anit-Christ, anti-human, anti-intellectual.” (Bradbury, 1). Originally, Keith won the election, however, when Eckels goes back and accidentally kills a butterfly, the future is altered. Deustcher is now President and evil has overcome the good in the world. In both cases juxtaposition is used to emphasis how small things males a huge difference.

A literary device that is greatly influential in this story is symbolism. Bradbury uses objects that have another meaning other than its literal meaning. There is a deeper meaning in the context of the whole story. Bradbury reveals the butterfly as a representation of men’s fragile like cycle. Eckels is filled with guilt and regrets when he locates the lifeless butterfly in the clump of mud on the tip of his shoes: “It fell to the floor, an exquisite thing, a small thing that could upset balances and knock down a line of small dominoes, then big dominoes and knock then gigantic dominoes, all down the years across time.” (Bradbury, 10).

This quotation describes how small changes to something can truly affect it in a larger and more complex way. The butterfly was not ready to die and taking its life away ruins the entire life cycle. Eckels and the hunter’s time travelling trip back sixty million years ends up being the root cause of this particular butterfly’s death. Its death causes the population of butterflies to decline and upsets the well-organized ecosystem. Which in this case leads to humans evolving in a different environment. Therefore the modern civilization is altered. This is the spiral effect of one disturbance in the ecosystem. Another object that has a deeper meaning in this story is the metal path. There are countless incidences in the story were Travis explains top Eckels the importance of stay on the path: “Don’t go off it. I repeat. Don’t go off. For any reason! If you fall off, there’s a penalty.” (Bradbury, 3). The

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