Thunder in the story represents the inescapability of mortality as well as the dangers of human hubris. As a natural phenomenon, thunder underscores the fact that death is part of the natural order; it is a sometimes-frightening occurrence brought about by things beyond human control. These factors have contributed to the use of thunder in literature as a symbol or manifestation of divine power. In “A Sound of Thunder,” sounds of thunder notably herald the arrival of challenges to Eckels’s hubris—that is, to his belief in his ability to control life, death, and even time. Thunder comes up twice, once accompanying the dinosaur that Eckels intended to hunt, and again as the sound of a gunshot that presumably kills Eckels in the tale’s final moments; by first introducing thunder as the sound of the approaching deadly dinosaur, Bradbury is able to repeat the sound at the end of the story and imply that Mr. Travis shoots Eckels without stating it outright. In both cases, the sound emanates from a powerful creature or machine unaffected by humanity’s whims or desires. By invoking thunder’s divine associations in the context of mortal peril, Bradbury underscores the idea that even with technology allowing control over the flow of time, death cannot be fully conquered.
Thunder Quotes in A Sound of Thunder
The jungle was wide and full of twitterings, rustlings, murmurs, and sighs.
Suddenly it all ceased, as if someone had shut a door.
A sound of thunder.
Out of the mist, one hundred yards away, came Tyrannosaurus rex.
“It can’t be killed.” Eckels pronounced this verdict quietly, as if there could be no argument. He had weighed the evidence and this was his considered opinion. The rifle in his hands seemed a cap gun. “We were fools to come. This is impossible.” […] Eckels, not looking back, walked blindly to the edge of the Path, his gun limp in his arms, stepped off the Path, and walked, not knowing it, in the jungle.
… “can’t we take it back, can’t we make it alive again? Can’t we start over? Can’t we—”
He did not move. Eyes shut, he waited, shivering. He heard Travis breathe loud in the room; he heard Travis shift his rifle, click the safety catch, and raise the weapon.
There was a sound of thunder.