A Sound of Thunder

by Ray Bradbury

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Who are the different types of characters in "A Sound of Thunder"?

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There are a few characters who are flat and static in “A Sound of Thunder”—these characters include the side or supporting roles. Here is a list of them:

  • The man at the desk: A tiny part is played by the man at the desk of Time Safari, Inc. He serves the purpose of introducing Mr. Travis, establishing a foreboding tone by saying, “We guarantee nothing,” and then informing the party that the timeline has indeed been altered and that Deutscher won the election in the new timeline. He is not described, nor does he develop—really remaining the same except modified by the timeline.
  • The two hunters, Billings and Kramer: These two are bit-part players. They do not show the fear that Eckels does, and they do not alter the timeline the way that he does. They don’t change, and they are not described in detail in the story.
  • Mr. Travis’s assistant, Lesperance: Lesperance has the job of studying the past and marking animals and dinosaurs that can be killed because they will die anyway. He is not entirely flat as a character, because we see that he is empathetic to Eckels. He is, however, an entirely static character, as he doesn’t develop as a result of what happens in the story.

The round and dynamic characters in the story include Mr. Travis and Eckels—both of whom develop throughout the story.

  • We see Mr. Travis act as a guide at the beginning of the story, but he changes as a result of Eckels’s cowardice and failure. Rather than acting as a guide, by the end of the story, he is bullying Eckels and, conceivably, shoots him for changing the timeline. The change that comes over him is one that probably lies dormant within his nature, he isn’t changed at a deep level necessarily, but his demeanor changes as a result of the circumstances of the hunt. He is round because we learn about his personality and see his anger at Eckels’s weakness.
  • Eckels is the central character in the story. He is round because we see his personality in his fear of the T-Rex and his regret over the change he makes to the timeline. He is also dynamic because when his understanding of impacting time changes, and he comes face to face with the T-Rex, his confidence drains, and he becomes repentant for killing a butterfly. His conscience and guilt develop in the story, and we see a new side of him.

Indirect characterization happens when actions develop a character. This happens for a few characters in the story, like when Eckels runs away from the T-Rex, showing his fear of death.

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The answer to this question depends on an understanding of the two distinctions: flat and round, and static and dynamic.

As pointed out, static characters do not change, while dynamic characters do. If a character is the same type of person at the beginning and the end of a story, they are static. If the character becomes a different type of person, or if our understanding of them changes due to new aspects of their personality being revealed, they are dynamic. Static means staying still, while dynamic means moving and active.

Flat and round refer to how complicated a character is. A flat character lacks detail or nuance in personality. Flat characters are identified by and limited to one or two very distinct, often stereotypical traits. Everything they do in a story, play, or novel is characterized by their flat personality. Side characters are often flat because the story isn't about them. A round character, on the other hand, is more complex and harder to simply describe as a certain type. Aspects of round characters may seem confusing and almost contradictory because they're like real people: complicated. More important characters are often round because writers spend more time building them for readers than they do with the less important characters.

So the two distinctions are not actually interchangeable although they may go together. Flat characters are sometimes also static, and round characters are also sometimes dynamic, but a character could certainly be round and static or flat and dynamic. But don't let that worry you: it's pretty simple.

Simple or complicated=flat or round.

Changing or not changing=static or dynamic.

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  • Flat and static characters are equated.  They are the characters who do not change in a narrative; in other words, they remain the same from beginning to end and are often stereotypical.
  • Round/dynamic characters are those characters who undergo a change, be it physical, psychological, emotional, or all of these. [Ekels, obviously] Usually these are the main characters--protagonists or antagonists.

So, all you need to do for the answer to your question is skim through the story again and find who fits these descriptions.

Suggestion:  Go to the how-to topics on enotes for help with many aspects of literature.  For your question, you can check out the site below.

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