A Sound of Thunder

by Ray Bradbury
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What's the point of view in "A Sound of Thunder?"

The point of view used by the narrator in "A Sound of Thunder" is third-person limited. This means that the narrator is not a participant in the story's events and that the narrator only describes the thoughts and feelings of one character. In this story, that character is the hunter, Eckels.

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The point of view of any story is the perspective from which it is told. In Ray Bradbury's "A Sound of Thunder," we are told the story from the perspective of Eckels, in a "third-person limited" fashion.

When a story is told from third-person limited perspective, the narrator is only privy to the feelings of thoughts of a specific character. Such a story will close follow the activities of one central character, who in this case is Eckels, who is heading back in time to embark on a dinosaur hunt.

We can tell that this story is written in third-person point of view because the people in the story are referred to using third-person pronouns like "they," "he," and "she." The difference between limited and omniscient perspective is that with the former, we can only see events from one character's perspective. In the omniscient perspective, the narrator is privy to the innermost feelings and thoughts of each character.

The fact that Eckels's thoughts are revealed to the reader from time to time prove the point of view to be third-person limited, because we are never privy to any other's characters thoughts—even after Eckels's cowardice has threatened all their lives. We have an external narrator who has insights into the thoughts of just one character.

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The point of view used in "A Sound of Thunder" is third-person limited. This means that the narrator is not a participant in the events of the story; the narrator does not refer to themselves using the first-person pronoun "I" or "we." The term "limited" means that the narrator can only report the thoughts and feelings of one character in the story; here, that character is Eckels, the hunter who goes back in time to kill a Tyrannosaurus Rex and totally chickens out.

One example of this is when the narrator tells us that Eckels "had weighed the evidence and [it] was his considered opinion [that the dinosaur could not be killed]. The rifle in his hands seemed a cap gun" to him. If the narrator could not report on the thoughts and feelings of this character, then they would be unable to tell us something that Eckels only thinks and does not say aloud. That his rifle feels like a mere cap gun in the face of this huge monster would be a detail we could not know.

The narrator also tells us how Eckels thinks and feels after the men return to the present time. Eckels realizes that he stepped on a butterfly when he went off the path in the past, and "his mind whirled. It couldn't change things. Killing one butterfly couldn't be that important! Could it?" This is another example of the narrator revealing Eckels thoughts, describing things he does not say aloud.

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The point of view is third person limited from the perspective of Eckels.

When we talk about point of view, we usually refer to first person or third person.  First person point of view has a narrator who talks directly to you, and uses the first person. You can tell because he or she will use the words “I” and “my.”  These are first person pronouns. 

A third person narrator uses the character’s name and third person pronouns like “he” or “she” to describe the person telling the story.  Within third person point of view narration there are two kinds: limited and omniscient.  An omniscient narrator knows what all of the characters are thinking and feeling, and a limited narrator follows just one.

This story is told from a third person limited perspective, with Eckels as the narrator.  You can tell this right away, by Eckels’s reaction to the sign. 

Warm phlegm gathered in Eckels' throat; he swallowed and pushed it down. The muscles around his mouth formed a smile as he put his hand slowly out upon the air, and in that hand waved a check for ten thousand dollars to the man behind the desk.

Eckels is a customer at the time travel office.  He is coming to buy a ride in the time machine to shoot dinosaurs.  Why he wants to do this I do not know, but he seems a little nervous about it.  I would be too.  He also seems to be fairly wealthy.  It is expensive!

Throughout the story, we know what Eckels is thinking and only Eckels (unless another character is talking and tells us what he is thinking).  This is useful because it increases the suspense.  We learn about time travel and the butterfly effect just like Eckels.

“…Stay on the Path. Don't go off it. I repeat. Don't go off. For any reason! If you fall off, there's a penalty. And don't shoot any animal we don't okay."

"Why?" asked Eckels.

Eckels will learn why.  Oh boy, will he learn why.  However, he does not know why and neither does the reader, because the story is told from a third person limited perspective. 

If it were third person omniscient, I think Mr. Travis would be thinking, “This idiot is going to alter the course of history by stepping off the path!  Why don’t they ever listen?  We really should screen these people better.”  I imagine it would be something like that.

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