Plot structure of “A Sound of Thunder”

Plot and Conflict

  • This story is about a hunter named Eckels who goes on a safari, with a few others, to kill a dinosaur.
  • During the trip, Travis, the hunting guide explains the rules and what can happen if the rules are broken. Nobody is allowed to step off the path.
  • Eckels is excited to hunt but when he sees the dinosaur, he panics and steps off the path.
  • After the group returns to the present, they find out that the future was changed because Eckels killed a butterfly when he stepped off the path.
  • Travis then shoots Eckels for breaking the rules.
  • The major conflict of the story is Eckels changing the timeline by killing a butterfly
  • The conflict is resolved when Travis kills Eckels

Setting and Effects

  • “A Sound of Thunder” by Ray Bradbury takes place in the year 2055 at some sort of a time travel place.
  • The setting later on, switches to the past (during the time of the dinosaurs), in a jungle.
  • Setting is an important element of the story because it can give clues to what will happen in the story and help create a theme.
  • For example, the characters know that changing anything in the setting (the jungle) can affect the future. This helps to build the theme that the smallest actions can have a large consequence.
  • The setting also influences the way characters behave and creates a mood. The group of hunters are very cautious in the jungle because they know that there are dangerous animals. This helps create a cautious and fearful mood

Characters and Motivations

  • Eckels is the protagonist in the story. He is a hunter who wants to travel to the past to kill a tyrannosaurus rex.
  • It also seems as though Eckels is a very impulsive and emotional person. He also isn’t very serious about travelling to the past and is motivated to hunt by his big ego.
  • After arriving in the past, Eckels panics and steps off the path and accidentally kills a butterfly. His mistake causes the future to change completely. Because he broke the rules, Eckels loses his life.
  • Travis is another character in the story. He is a serious man who understands the consequences of changing the past as he is the safari leader.
  • Travis punishes Eckels by shooting him at the end of the story for breaking the safari rules.


The theme of the story “A Sound of Thunder’’ is that advanced technology can be very dangerous and have massive consequences. The biggest evidence of this theme is when Travis is explaining the butterfly effect. “Crushing certain plants could add up infinitesimally. A little error here would multiply in sixty million years, all out of proportion” (Bradbury 3). If anyone steps on even a small plant, they could disturb a whole ecosystem and the timeline. This shows that interfering with time or the environment can completely change everything. A foolish mistake made by someone affects everyone and not just one person. Even though it can be exciting to go back in the past, this really shows how dangerous the time machine can be. Another example is when Eckels discovers that he accidentally killed a butterfly. “It fell to the floor, an exquisite thing, a small thing that could upset balances and knock down a line of small dominoes and then big dominoes and then gigantic dominoes, all down the years across Time” (Bradbury 8). Eckels panicked and stepped off the path when he knew that he wasn’t supposed to. Now that they are back in the present, they realize that the timeline is changed because Eckels stepped on the butterfly. This action had massive consequences and modern-day life was completely changed. As insignificant as the butterfly seemed, it changed modern day immensely. Not only was Eckels killed for his mistake, but the lives of others were changed without them even knowing. This supports my theme because it is direct proof of the consequences everyone faces because of Eckels’s mistake. In conclusion, technology can be very helpful and make life easy and enjoyable but when humans mess with something as complex as time, the consequences can affect the whole world.




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Harshita Rai

Harshita Rai

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