A Sound of Thunder

by Ray Bradbury

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How does "A Sound of Thunder" depict the hero's journey?

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I would argue that "A Sound of Thunder" does not show the standard heroic journey that can be found in a great many pieces of literature and/or movies. The standard heroic journey will often introduce the heroic protagonist in a normal, mundane manner. That hero will then receive some kind of call to action. He or she may accept the call right away, or it may take a little bit of an extra push. The hero will often receive help from an usual source or will be granted special powers or knowledge. Then there will be a near-death moment followed by victory against the antagonist. The journey will end with the hero returning to his or her normal life.

"A Sound of Thunder" has pieces of the heroic journey, but the story fails to strictly follow a heroic journey for a couple of reasons. The first reason is that the story doesn't have an identifiable heroic figure. The hero can't be Eckels, who causes more problems than he solves. I think a stronger case could be made that Eckels is the antagonist of the story. Travis might be a heroic figure, but he doesn't go through any kind of transformation and isn't granted special powers or special knowledge. He doesn't receive help from an usual source, nor does he return to his previous, normal life. His world has been completely changed. Additionally, Travis murders Eckels at the story's conclusion. That is hardly heroic.

A part of the heroic journey that is somewhat modeled in "A Sound of Thunder" is the fact that the story begins and ends in the same location. The entire world has changed, but Travis and his crew begin at the Time Safari office, and the story ends with a return to that "normal" environment.

A reader could say that the evil antagonist is the T. rex dinosaur. Generally, the heroic journey has the hero squaring off against a seemingly unbeatable and fully evil enemy. Eckels sees the dinosaur in this way, which is why he runs away in fear. He truly doesn't believe that the monster can be defeated; however, Travis and the other hunters emerge victorious over the dinosaur.

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