A Sound of Thunder Analysis

By Allyson, Alex, Bo, Denver and Lennon

Story Summary

“A Sound of Thunder” by Ray Bradbury is an intense story that has future technology giving the characters a look at the Cretaceous age. He hops out of the machine knowing he is in the past and walks forward with the other group members waiting for a dinosaur to kill. They wait but not for long as a Tyrannosaurus Rex comes elegantly out of the wooded area. They notice this and everyone but Eckels was ready to kill this majestic beast.They fired bullet after bullet with the rex fighting back but after many rounds of bullets the Rex falls. In anger, the director Yelps at Eckels for putting them in danger and for walking the path but calmed down so they could travel back into the present time. Many things were changed like the sign on the door and the man behind the desk and in amazement he realizes that he has experienced the butterfly effect from stepping off the path from the past.

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Point of View

Point of View includes the author's position and the narrator's perspective.

Author’s Position - The author's position is the way that the author feels about the message of their story.

In the story “A Sound of Thunder” the author has taken the following positions:

  • The smallest of actions can have very great effects.

  • History is very significant, and should be greatly respected.

    • Both of these positions of the author are shown by how when simply one butterfly dies the future is changed. Even the smallest elements of history have an effect on how events will unfold for years to come.

  • Narrator’s Perspective - The narrator’s perspective is from whom the story is being told.

  • First Person - A first person story is narrated by a character (includes I, me, etc)

  • Third person - A third person perspective is narrated by no characters (No I, me, etc)

The story “A Sound of Thunder” is narrated in a third-person perspective because the narrator never refers to himself as one of the characters. Outside of dialogue the words such as "I," "we" and "our" were never used. Along with this, the narration is in limited third person. What that means is that the narrator speaks the inner thoughts of only one character. This character being Eckels.


Our group has identified 3 central themes in the story.

Theme 1 - Butterfly effect- something little makes a big impact. The group went through the time machine to the past to kill a T-rex. But Eckels ended up screwing up and he alerted the dinosaur. So Eckels started running while everyone else was defending themselves and Eckels went off the path and killed a butterfly. Once they went back into the present Eckels realized his mistake after everything was spelled wrong, new president, and different people

Theme 2 - History is an extremely important element on how if we change something in the past future features of the world can change. He stepped on the butterfly so everything is spelled wrong. The fact that he stepped on a butterfly and all the words in the world were spelled differently, a different president got elected, and different people got hired for a job. That one killing of just one butterfly changed a whole lot in the future.

Theme 3 - Don’t underestimate your ability to impact the future and even the world. Again just one person going on a safari changed how words are spelled. He probably didn't know this was going to happen. He just thought that he would kill the dinosaur and get out fine with history not changing. But he had to pay for it and eventually got killed.

Author's Purpose

We identified three major purposes that could explain why Bradbury chose to write this story. The first one being do not go where you do not belong. This is shown through the consequences of Eckels killing a butterfly while on a hunting safari in the Cretaceous period. Travis, a safari guide, stated, “We don't belong here in the Past. The government doesn't like us here,” while explaining to Eckels why they had to be extremely careful about disturbing nothing in the forest while hunting their dinosaur. However, Eckels was not careful enough. When they returned to their original time period, 2055, the English everything about the world was slightly off. The time travel office had a different feeling, the employees had different personalities, the English language was altered and there was a different president in office. As you can see Travis and the government were absolutely correct. Going somewhere you do not belong is risky and can lead to horrible things hence why the government did not like the idea of time travel. This lesson is important not only regarding time travel, but is a good lesson for people today. Don’t go where you do not belong, you do not have to give your two cents worth when it is not necessary. However, we still feel that the author wished to convey to the reader that they are important. Eckels did not believe that he could cause a big change in the world let alone a butterfly, but he was proven wrong when he returned from the ancient forest. When you think about these two messages together a phrase that we find fitting is, “with great power comes great responsibility,” which we feel is what the author was going for. You may have an amazing ability, but you do not necessarily have to use it (at least in this situation) and if you do choose to use it you must be extremely wise and thoughtful.

Our Final Take Away

In order for you to have a positive effect on the world, you must make changes in the present for a better future, not vice versa, making changes in the past for a better present. This is clearly true regarding time travel, but it is also a good lesson for life. You can’t change the past so there is no need to dwell on it, but you can ensure that you understand it in order to prevent harmful history from repeating itself. Simply be cautious; think before you act and always remember that even the smallest of things is significant and will have an impact on our world.

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Image Sources

Scary for Kids! "A Sound Of Thunder." Scary Website. Scary for Kids!, 9 Aug. 2007. Web. 04 Dec. 2015.

Image Source: Jacobs, Bonnie. "The Butterfly Effect." Blogger. N.p., 16 May 2011. Web. 3 Dec. 2015.