What is the main conflict in Ray Bradbury's "A Sound of Thunder"?

The main conflict in Ray Bradbury's “A Sound of Thunder” is human beings against themselves. In different ways, both Eckels and Travis represent the negative traits of arrogance and egotism, and their failures at self-control have devastating consequences not only for themselves but for the whole world.

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One could argue that the primary conflict in Ray Bradbury's celebrated short story "A Sound of Thunder " is a Man vs. Nature conflict. In a typical Man vs. Nature conflict, characters struggle against forces of nature, which are hostile and pose significant threats or obstacles in the...

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One could argue that the primary conflict in Ray Bradbury's celebrated short story "A Sound of Thunder" is a Man vs. Nature conflict. In a typical Man vs. Nature conflict, characters struggle against forces of nature, which are hostile and pose significant threats or obstacles in the story. In regards to Bradbury's short story, advanced technology gives humans the ability to time travel. Man possesses a great opportunity, which comes with much responsibility. Time Safari, Inc. capitalizes on its advanced technology by selling expeditions into the past, where citizens have the thrilling opportunity to hunt dinosaurs. Despite taking several notable precautions, time travel is extremely risky and the consequences attached to traveling into the past are enormous.
The conflict between Man vs. Nature arises from mankind's hubris, as humans threaten to alter the course of history each time they interact with the natural environment of the past. By accidentally altering the past, the characters in the story set off a major chain reaction which dramatically transforms the future. This phenomenon is known as the "chaos theory" or "butterfly effect." Unfortunately, Eckels accidentally runs off the path and steps on a prehistoric butterfly. His actions change the course of human history, and the United States is transformed into a dystopia ruled by the ruthless dictator named Deutscher. Overall, Bradbury explores a nuanced conflict concerning humans and the natural environment throughout "A Sound of Thunder." Although humans possess extraordinary technology, their impressive technological advances are at odds with nature and threaten to disturb the balance of the universe. Nature is portrayed as extremely sensitive and poses a significant threat to humans utilizing technology to manipulate time.
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Ray Bradbury's story “A Sound of Thunder” features two men whose attitudes and actions show how human beings enter into conflict against themselves. The characters of Eckles and Travis have distinctive features, but they have numerous negative traits in common: because they are arrogant and self-centered, they refuse to acknowledge the possible repercussions of their actions. Both men demonstrate their inability to control themselves, although on different scales, and their failures result in devastating consequences that extend far beyond the personal level to affect humans and other species on a global scale.

Travis as a representative of the Time Safari company feels justified in interfering in the past, even though they profess not to be doing so. The supposed precautions they take are merely a different kind of interference that paves the way for errors by the clients they cater to, who cannot be guaranteed to follow their warnings.

Travis pushes all the blame onto Eckels for any potential misstep he might make, ignoring the fact that his company has created the scenario for such an error to occur. Eckels is equally responsible, however, given his attitude of entitlement and superiority based on his wealth. Both men show how individual humans can place their own priorities above their concern for others.

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The main conflict in Ray Bradbury's 1952 short story, "A Sound of Thunder," is man vs.nature. Eckels lets his fear of the beast he is hunting overtake him, and in so doing, makes careless mistakes. These mistakes have monumental consequences for the whole of human history. 

The story takes place in the future and centers on a man named Eckels who hunts big game. He has conquered all the big game in his environment and is drawn to a company called Time Safari, Inc., which specializes in time travel hunting. He pays a large sum of money to hunt a Tyrannosaurus Rex during the Cretaceous period. 

Travis, his safari guide, has carefully explained the importance of not disturbing anything in the past. The company takes many precautions to ensure that what they do in the past doesn't alter the future. 

Before they take clients on a safari, a guide goes back in time to scout out an animal that was going to die of some natural cause. They calibrate the hunting expedition to within minutes of when the natural death would have occurred so they do not interrupt the natural sequence of events. Travis warns:

"The stomp of your foot, on one mouse, could start an earthquake, the effects of which could shake our earth and destinies down through Time, to their very foundations." 

Eckels, having a hard time believing the impact of such small actions, asks further questions, to which Travis replies: 

"Crushing certain plants could add up infinitessimally. A little error here would multiply in sixty million years, all out of proportion."

When it comes time to shoot the Tyrannosaurus Rex, Eckels is petrified with fear. Travis becomes impatient with him and tells him to return to the time machine. On his way back, Eckels accidentally steps off the anti-gravity metal path that has been built by the company to ensure that not even a blade of grass is harmed during the expeditions. Travis sends Eckels back to the carcass to remove the bullets, which must not be left in the past. He feels that this will teach Eckels a lesson about signing up for hunts he's not capable of completing. On the way back, Eckels tramples a butterfly. 

Upon his return to 2065, he notices the company sign has changed. The lettering is different. He begins to fear that Travis' warnings have been correct. 

"Eckels felt himself fall into the chair. He fumbled crazily at the thick slime on his boots. He held up a clod of dirt, trembling. 'No, it can't be, not a little thing like that! No!' Embedded in the mud, glistening green and gold and black, was a butterfly, very beautiful, and very dead." 

Horrified, Eckels asked the man at the front desk who won the presidential election. Instead of answering President Keith, as he had when Eckels went on the safari, he answers Deutscher, his opponent with dictatorial beliefs. Eckels realizes that when he left the path, he altered the course of human history in exponential ways. 

Though there is a minor conflict of man vs. man with Eckels and Travis, the main conflict is man vs. nature. Eckels alters the course of history by damaging an insect, a butterfly. This disruption to the ecosystem sets in motion a chain reaction that alters everything in the known world in a negative way. 

 

 

 

 

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