A Sound of Thunder


Ray Bradbury

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Themes and Colors
Cause and Effect Theme Icon
Authoritarianism, Fascism, and Nostalgia Theme Icon
Mortality Theme Icon
Environmentalism Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in A Sound of Thunder, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Cause and Effect

In “A Sound of Thunder,” Ray Bradbury imagines a world in which humanity can take touristic journeys back in time. As Eckels, a man on a prehistoric hunting trip, discovers, however, even the slightest alteration to the past can forever alter the course of history; after accidentally crushing a butterfly underfoot 65 million years ago, Eckels returns to a present drastically different from the one he’d initially left behind. Small actions can have major…

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Authoritarianism, Fascism, and Nostalgia

While “A Sound of Thunder” takes place in the 2050s, it is in many ways just as much about the concerns of the 1950s. Writing in the aftermath of World War II and at the outset of the Cold War, Bradbury embeds the fear of anti-American authoritarianism in his text. He paints a portrait of futuristic America as an imperialist nation that has found a new direction for its colonial energies (that is, the past)…

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Bradbury portrays Eckels as deeply concerned with mortality. His hobby of trophy hunting gets its thrill from feeling a certain power over life and death, and his choice to take a time travel safari derives partly from advertisements portraying triumph over aging and death. When confronted with genuine mortality, however, in the form of the dinosaur, Eckels decides to flee; later, this attempt survive ultimately brings about his own death, when a guide shoots him…

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“A Sound of Thunder” explores the human relationship to ecology and the natural environment. Through the device of time travel, Bradbury is able to show the potential impact of human interference in the environment on seemingly unrelated events. In Bradbury’s world, humanity is inextricably intertwined with the environment, which human beings foolishly often influence with little care for the future. Even with precautions in place, damage is always possible. The story points to the idea…

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