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A Sound of Thunder

by Ray Bradbury

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Examples of foreshadowing in "A Sound of Thunder"


Foreshadowing in "A Sound of Thunder" includes Travis's warnings about the consequences of leaving the path and killing even a small animal, which hints at the story's climax. Eckles's nervousness and request for a safety guarantee also foreshadow the impending danger. Additionally, Travis's detailed instructions and the discussion about the election outcomes highlight the delicate nature of time travel and its potential catastrophic effects.

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What are some examples of foreshadowing in "A Sound of Thunder"?

The most obvious foreshadowing is when Travis warns Eckles about leaving the path. He states that even if Eckles stepped on and killed a mouse it could result in mice dying out, which in turn could effect other animals who rely on mice for food. Billions could be destroyed by the killing of just one animal.

However, there are more subtle hints littered throughout the story. At the very beginning, the reader can detect the nervous disposition of the main character Eckles when the author states that "Warm liquid gathered in Eckels' throat. He swallowed and pushed it down." Eckles than gives an indication of the danger of the situation he's putting himself in by saying, "Don't I get some kind of document promising that I will come back alive?" The reply by the office, "we promise nothing," is equally ominous.

In fact, the entire end of the story is summarized in the first page. First, the official says that Eckles would face government action if he doesn't follow his guide's orders, and second, they talk about what would have happened if Deutscher instead of Keith was elected. "We're lucky. If Deutscher had gotten in, we'd have the worst kind of government."

The aggression of Travis and how serious he takes his job is foreshadowed from the moment Eckles meets him. Travis first of all talks to him angrily about what would happen if he went off the path and then he shouts at Eckles when Eckles jokingly points his gun at an animal.

Finally, Eckles outlines just precarious it is to travel back in time.

In sixty million years, Election Day over. Keith made President. Everyone celebrating. And here we are, a million years lost, and they don't exist. The things we worried about for months, a lifetime, not even born or thought of yet.

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What are some examples of foreshadowing in "A Sound of Thunder"?

Probably the most important and critical example of foreshadowing to be found in "A Sound of Thunder," is the scene in which the hunting expedition first arrives in the distant past, and Travis goes over the protocols, as well as the existential threat that time travel represents. This scene ultimately sets the stage for everything that will follow in the story.

Here we find Travers' instructions to stick to the path, as a way of protecting the timeline. As he says it, to "touch so much as one grass blade, flower, or tree" is forbidden. He then proceeds to describe the existential dangers that time travel involves, and the ways that even the smallest, most apparently insignficant, changes can have catastrophic implications on the larger timeline. He uses as his example a single mouse, killed before its time: on its own, it might not seem like a dramatic change, but in effect you have not just killed that mouse, but also every mouse that has descended from that initial mouse, which would have impacted the predators of those mice, and so on down the line. As he puts it, to step off the path and risk even the smallest, most apparently insignificant impact this far back in time, is to risk unseen, catastrophic damage to all of history.

This scene proves prophetic, because Travers' warnings are precisely what come to pass later in the story. Eckels panics in the face of the Tyrannosaurus, leaves the path, ends up stepping on a butterfly, and proceeds to change the course of history.

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What are some examples of foreshadowing in "A Sound of Thunder"?

There are several instances of foreshadowing in Bradbury's "A Sound of Thunder":

1. The title itself acts as a prediction since thunder often precedes a storm, which can be a dangerous occurrence.
2. As he enters the Time Safari, Inc. office in order to pay for his trip Eckels's nervousness is apparent as he is described in this manner: "Warm phlegm gathered in Eckels' throat; he swallowed and pushed it down." (His lack of nerve serves as a predictor of what he later does.)
3. The words of the official also foreshadow future events: 

If you disobey instructions, there's a stiff penalty of another ten thousand dollars, plus  possible government action, on your return.

4. Eckels's conversation with the man-behind-the-desk hints at how easily circumstances can be altered by time. After Eckels looks at the Time Machine, he remarks, 

"Makes you think, If the election had gone badly yesterday, I might be here now running away from the results. Thank God Keith won. He'll make a fine  President of the United States."

The man agrees, saying that the other candidate, Deutscher would have instituted a dictatorship. He adds that before the election, people called, wondering if they could go live in 1492 if Deutscher were to win. But, he adds, the company only does safaris.This foreshadows the change of time that Eckels causes, giving Deutscher the election, after all.

5. The man's warning to Eckels, "We don't want anyone going who'll panic at the first shot. Six Safari leaders were killed last year, and a dozen hunters" also foreshadows the panic that Eckels does feel when he sees the Tyrannosaurus Rex.

6. The guides' strict warning to Eckels to not stray from the Gravity Path because Time can, then, be altered certainly suggests the grave mistake of stepping on a butterfly that Eckels makes.

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 What is foreshadowed in the story "A Sound of Thunder"?

There are, indeed, several hints of things to come in Bradbury's short story. When Eckels arrives at the Time Safari, Inc., he swallows hard and "a warm phlegm gathered" in his throat. Evidently, he is nervous about his trip to hunt the Tyrannosaurus Rex. When he asks if the safari guarantees that he will return, the official tells him that his company has no guarantee upon anything but "the dinosaurs." He also adds,

If you disobey instructions, there's a stiff penalty of another ten thousand dollars, plus possible government action, on your return."

And, as Eckels looks around, he notices

a sound like a gigantic bonfire burning all of Time, all the years and all the parchment calendars, all the hours piled high and set aflame.

Here are suggestions that something serious may happen with the manipulation of "Time" if things do not go as calculated. As he waits, Eckels talks about the recent election, grateful that the man who has won the presidential election is in office since his opponent would have created a dictatorship. The official assures him that all he has to worry about is shooting his dinosaur.

The foreshadowing here is that the outcomes of the present time may change, Eckels may have trouble shooting his dinosaur, and he may have to pay a penalty for disobeying instructions.

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What are four examples of foreshadowing in "A Sound of Thunder"?

As Ray Bradbury's story "A Sound of Thunder" introduces its characters, setting, and plot and as it builds tension toward its climax, it incorporates several details that foreshadow occurrences that take place later in the story.

First, we have the sign that Eckels sees when he first approaches the Time Safari office. We might think at first that the inclusion of the text of this sign is merely for our information and to set the scene, and it does indeed do this. But it also points ahead to the end of the story when Eckels sees the sign again and it is quite different. We remember that we've seen the sign before, and we marvel at the change.

As Eckels waits for his trip to begin, he discusses the latest presidential election with the man behind the desk. A candidate by the name of Keith has won victory over the potential tyrant Deutscher. Both Eckels and the man are relieved. We wonder, perhaps, why this is important to the story, but it, too, points forward to a change that has occurred with Eckels gets back. Deutscher has won the presidency, and the man behind the desk is happy about it.

Shortly after the discussion about the election, the man behind the desk makes a rather alarming comment to Eckels. "We don't want anyone going who'll get scared and do something silly at the first sign of danger," he says. This is, of course, exactly what Eckels does later in the story, with tragic results.

When the group arrives in the past, Travis gives clear instructions. "Stay on the Path," he orders. Then he explains the potential consequences of changing anything, even the smallest element, of the past. It could be catastrophic: and indeed, later in the story, it is. Travis's warning becomes a foreshadow of what actually happens with Eckels, who steps off the Path and inadvertently changes the past. He changes the future, too, which is exactly what Travis says they do not want to do.

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What are four examples of foreshadowing in "A Sound of Thunder"?

Bradbury hints at the tragic outcome of the Time Safari by foreshadowing important events at various moments throughout the story. One example of foreshadowing takes place during Eckels's conversation with the Time Safari employee behind the desk regarding the recent election. The employee responds to Eckels's comment about Keith winning by saying,

"We're lucky. If Deutscher had gotten in, we'd have the worst kind of dictatorship... Said if Deutscher became President they wanted to go live in 1492. Makes you think. If the election had gone badly yesterday, I might be here now running away from the results."

Their conversation regarding the outcome of the election foreshadows the dramatic reversal of the election upon Eckels's return. Following Eckels's tragic mistake, the course of human history dramatically changes and Deutscher is president.

Bradbury also foreshadows Eckels's reaction to witnessing the Tyrannosaurus Rex for the first time when the employee behind the desk comments, "We don't want anyone going who'll panic at the first shot. Six Safari leaders were killed last year, and a dozen hunters." The moment when Eckels sees the massive dinosaur, he panics and runs off the Path.

Once Eckels and the other members of the Time Safari crew arrive in the past, Travis issues a warning about the importance of staying on the hovering Path. Travis explains that the Path is anti-gravity and says,

Doesn't touch so much as one grass blade, flower, or tree. It's an anti-gravity metal. Its purpose is to keep you from touching this world of the Past in any way. 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.

Travis's remarks about the Path and the penalty attached to stepping off it foreshadows Eckels's tragic mistake.

In addition to Travis's warning regarding the importance of staying on the Path, Travis also explains the implications of accidentally disturbing the past and dramatically changing the future. Travis elaborates on the "chaos theory," also known as the "butterfly effect," which is when a small change in the past is multiplied exponentially and alters the trajectory of human history. Travis's explanation foreshadows the outcome of Eckels accidentally stepping on a prehistoric butterfly. After Eckels runs off the Path and steps on a prehistoric butterfly, they travel back to the present, where Deutscher is the president and the United States is a dystopia.

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What are four examples of foreshadowing in "A Sound of Thunder"?

Foreshadowing occurs in a story when an author hints or suggests what might happen later in the story. Four examples of foreshadowing in Bradbury's "A Sound of Thunder" are as follows:

First, the official behind the desk at the Time Safari tells Eckels that "'We guarantee nothing,'" foreshadowing or hinting that events might go very, very wrong.

Second, when Eckels accuses the official behind the desk of trying to scare him about time travel, the man says:

"We don't want anyone going who'll panic at the first shot."

This foreshadows Eckels' panic on the safari.

Third, when characters in a short story stop to have a conversation about the wrong man luckily not being elected president, this hints or foreshadows that circumstances might change in an ominous way due to the trip to the past. We are set up for a return in which Deutscher is the president.

Finally, Travis's repeated warnings to "'Stay on the Path. Never step off!'" foreshadow exactly what will go wrong when Eckels panics.

In this first part of the story, Bradbury creates suspense and unease by emphasizing how careful one must be while time-traveling so as not to change the course of history, leading us to worry that history will be changed in a terrible way on this safari.

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What are some textual clues and predictions in "A Sound of Thunder"?

You can predict the ending based on the comments about changing the future and the discussion of who is president.

You can make a prediction that the men are going to change the future from the fact that such a big deal is made about how careful they have to be because it is easy to change the future.  In the beginning of the story, they discuss who the president is.  This is a text clue that foreshadows the ending, when another man is chosen president.

“We’re lucky. If Deutscher had gotten in, we’d have the worst kind of dictatorship. There’s an anti-everything man for you, a militarist, antiChrist, anti-human, anti-intellectual. People called us up, you know, joking but not joking. Said if Deutscher became President they wanted to go live in 1492. …”

This foreshadows the ending when Deutscher is president.  In the present, Keith has been elected and they are happy because certain people feel that Deutscher would be a tyrant.  At the end of the story we will see the spelling on the sign is different and Deutscher is president.

Another example of foreshadowing is the caution about how easy it is to change the future by changing something in the past.  The government regulates time travel carefully, we are told.  There is a special path, and you do not step off that path!

“We don’t want to change the Future. We don’t belong here in the Past. The government doesn’t like us here. We have to pay big graft to keep our franchise. A Time Machine is finicky business. Not knowing it, we might kill an important animal, a small bird, a roach, a flower even, thus destroying an important link in a growing species.”

These text clues indicate that someone is going to step off the path to change the future.  All of that talk about not changing anything in the future definitely foreshadows Eckels stepping off the path onto the butterfly.  He changes the future, just like we have been warned against.

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When is foreshadowing used in "A Sound of Thunder?"

"A Sound of Thunder" concerns a group of hunters on a time safari - they use a time machine to travel into the distant past, in order to hunt animals that are extinct in the modern era. In this setting, the concept of foreshadowing becomes a bit confused - normally it is taken to refer to things that will happen in the future, but because this story takes place in various times, it's easier to think of foreshadowing as a reference to the future of the narrative, rather than the timeline itself.

I think the most significant foreshadowing that takes place in this story is the response Eckels receives to one of his questions. When he hears that the safari group has already scouted out his tyrannosaurus by using the time machine to go into the past, track the tyrannosaur, and see how it would have normally died, he assumes that they must also be able to use the machine to watch the safari take place, and see what its outcome was. Eckels is concerned about whether everyone survives, since he is strongly warned about the number of people who have died on safaris recently.

In response to Eckels' question, the safari leader, Travis, and his assistant Lesperance give each other "a look". On first impressions, this seems to suggest that they did observe the outcome of the expedition, and the shared look is a means of reassuring each other and looking for support when admitting that not everyone survives (most likely, not Eckels). While this is not, in fact, the case, and the two are probably just irritated at Eckels' oblivious questions, it nevertheless implies, based on body language alone, that Eckels will not survive the trip.

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