What comes to your mind when suggesting a butterfly? Perhaps the famous concept of chain reaction proposed by Edward N. Lorenz? Now, ask yourself whether you have encountered an example of the butterfly effect, moreover, what could have prevented the repercussion. Just as an unremarkable butterfly fluttered its wings on one end of the world could ultimately cause a hurricane halfway around the world, unintentionally killing a butterfly in the past could flip the future upside down. “The Sound of Thunder”, a piece by Ray Bradbury illustrates the story of time travel that takes place in the future, where rich hunters can travel back in time to hunt extinct animals. Eckels, Travis, and other hunters traveled back to the Mesozoic era to Safari, Africa to kill a Tyrannosaurus rex. Nevertheless, on their trip, a small mistake led them down a tragic path that consequents in a cruel failure that could not be undone. Small accidents can make a big difference. Using the story of Eckels as an example, author Bradbury embedded the important concept of carefulness and awareness in the fiction.
The author of the short story “A Sound of Thunder”, Ray Bradbury, believes being mindful and careful can prevent small mistakes, thus, avoid causing great differences and a negative shift in the result. Due to the risks of changing the future, travelers to the past are especially careful and cautious of their actions and decisions. Travis, one of the workers at Time Safari Inc. warns protagonist Eckels multiple times about the potential consequences of violating the rules, he stated, “’ Destroy this one man, and you destroy a race, a people, an entire history of life.’” (Bradbury5). Travis’s words hint at the theme of the story. A man is only one of a kind in a large species, however, destroying one man could cause a chain impact, resulting in a consequence much larger than expected. This implies the theme the author tries to convey: small mistakes and slight changes could alter the final result immensely. As the plot develops, despite Travis’s constant reminder and admonishment, Eckels, unsurprisingly, still panicked when the dinosaur came into view, he fell off the anti-gravity path and succeeded in disobeying every order made by Travis, and killed a butterfly as a bonus. After cleaning up behind them, and triple-checking the environment to make sure things are left “untouched”, they, Eckels/Travis/and others, returned to the present. Though they soon realized a change, a mistake, a difference in the year 2050. The sign painted on the office wall was no longer the same, instead of” Time safari, Inc. Safaris to any year in the past. You name the animal. We take you there. You shoot it.”, it said, “Tyme sefari, Inc. Sefaris tu any yeer en the past. Yu naim the animall. Wee taekyuthair. Yu shoot itt.” (Bradbury12). Eckels’s mistake of murdering a butterfly from the Mesozoic era changed not only the language people spoke but also the government system. The death of a free butterfly brought the country “the worse kind of dictatorship” (5). This example of chain reaction recalls the cause of World War I to my mind. The assassination of Archduke Franz led to the declaration of war between two small countries (Austrian-Hungary and Serbia). Which eventually resulted in having more than 30 nations engaging in the war over the next number of years. Aside from the obvious theme, author Bradbury also deeply shamed and condemned human for abusing the nature for self-pleasure and the consequences we are ought to be responsible for. It teaches us the potentially severe consequences of small causes, and the importance of mindfulness and cautiousness when coming to making choices.
“The sound of thunder” is more than a title, “thunder” drives the development of the story, at the same time symbolizing two things in the piece: the sound of T-rex’s footsteps and the sound of gunshots, two events that led to the turn of the story. Similarly, the butterfly also plays a symbolic role, representing the butterfly effect, the chain reaction leading to the repercussion. We know that small mistakes can result in large consequences, moreover, we learned the significance of awareness when it comes to making choices because you never know when the next thunder will hit.