Have you ever wanted to travel back to the past with those fascinating time machines? Time travel can be entertaining and exciting. However, having the ability to travel through time might not always be pleasant. Sometimes it may carry negative aspects of consequences leading to a disastrous change to the orders of time and events. This is what happens in “A Sound of Thunder” by Ray Bradbury. In this short story, the author develops the idea of small actions and mistakes can lead to harmful consequences that you can never change back, like the Butterfly Effect.
Travis and the officials who are more experienced with time travel reminds Eckels, the protagonist, repetitively what the terrifying results of staying off the track would bring. When Eckels first time traveled back to the jungle of the past where dinosaurs exist, Mr. Travis alerts him not to shoot any animal or disobey rules at any times because they “don’t want to change the future. [They] don’t belong in the past” (Bradbury 225). Travis also tells Eckels how small action matters a lot by giving an example of killing a mouse. He says, “By stepping on one single mouse…you destroy a race, a people, and an entire future nation” (Bradbury 226). Eckels is new to traveling through a time machine, so he isn’t aware what consequences of modifying the past will bring. As messing around in time can make a big roar or a little swirl in history, Mr. Travis and the officials didn’t want anyone to ruin the past. Therefore, Travis keeps emphasizing the point by giving wise advice from his previous experiences to Eckels again and again. The author foreshadows the theme and the danger ahead in Travis’s words. This theme can also be seen towards the resolution of the story when Eckels learns a life lesson that even small actions are important from his own mistakes he encounters. Eckels misbehaving and not listening to their warnings caused him to kill a butterfly, which led the future to change intensely. When Eckels realizes a dead butterfly under his boots, he cries, “Not a little thing like that! Not a butterfly!… Can’t we take it back, can’t we make it alive again? Can’t we start over? Can’t we-”(Bradbury 236). Such a scene not only depicts how crucial obeying laws are but also portrays how easily small movements can knock out everything following behind. Bradbury weaves the theme of small actions can lead to negative consequences throughout the book. The protagonist’s action of refusal, disobeying rules and Travis’s constant warning builds up to the theme of this story. Even though Eckels turns out to be killed at the end, I hope he had learned a solid lesson that will always remain in his heart.
You’ve probably heard that a butterfly’s flap of its wings in Brazil can set a tornado off in Texas. The butterfly effect is a metaphor that means a minor change, such as flapping of wings, can create a phenomenal change like the theme from “A Sound of Thunder”. Today, one of the common examples of a butterfly effect is the ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’. This campaign was started in 2014 by a group of people with a unique, minor act of dunking water over people’s head and nominating friends and families to do the same in order to solicit donations and spread awareness. Miraculously, today, the challenge is done everywhere around the world. Similar to this short story where Eckels’s actions brought an unfavorable change in language and election of the president, according to TheGuardian, the campaign was able to make a huge impact. They were able to raise more than 100million dollars in 30 days and was fully able to fund a couple of research projects.
image citation: “Vintage Text Effect.” Tumblr, www.tumblr.com/search/vintage%20text%20effect.