What would be some possible cause and effect relationships in "A Sound Of Thunder" by Ray Bradbury?

Expert Answers
litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

“A Sound of Thunder” is a good example of cause and effect relationships.  The famous butterfly effect states that a small thing can make a huge difference, like a butterfly flapping its wings and creating a hurricane.  In this story, stepping on a butterfly completely changes the future.

Here are some cause and effect relationships in the story:

CAUSE:  Someone invents a time machine.  EFFECT: A company finds a way to use it for profit.

Someone figured out that people would love the once in a lifetime experience of killing a dinosaur.  Rich people will pay big money for unique experiences.

CAUSE: You kill an animal in the past that was not just about to die.  EFFECT: it changes the future.

The idea that changing the past changes the future is common in science fiction and time travel stories.  This is why the hunters mark a clear path and choose which animals are about to die, so changes in the past don’t affect the future.

CAUSE: Eckels leaves the path.  EFFECT: He steps on the butterfly.

If he had not left the path, he presumably would have been fine.  The travel agency has been successful many times in the past.

Here’s one last cause and effect relationship for you.

CAUSE: Eckles changes the future by stepping on the butterfly. EFFECT:  Travis kills Eckels.


chsmith1957 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

“The Sound of Thunder” is a cautionary tale of the power of cause and effect. It serves as a stark reminder to us that each and every single one of our acts has the ability to impact our own futures. Throw into the mix the concept of time travel, and these acts can impact everyone’s future.

The irony here is that the Time Safari staff members believe they have created ways to avoid cause and effect. They think they’ve figured out a way to beat the system. They’ve created a path for participants to follow, and they’re only killing animals that would have been killed by natural causes anyway. If everyone follows the rules, the future that the group returns to will be the same one it left. But this is only true if everyone follows the rules. And whenever human behavior is a factor, this assumption cannot be relied upon. Eckels is traumatized by the experience, he fumbles back to the time machine, and he evidently steps off the path and onto a butterfly. The effect is that the future has been changed, seemingly for the worse. This is a raw lesson in cause and effect. And for it, he must be punished. But does Travis kill him in the end? Or does Travis kill himself, and leave Eckels to deal with the global effects he has caused? It’s a matter of perspective.