English 9 A
A Sound of Thunder Summary
A Sound of Thunder starts with a man named Eckels enters the offices of Time Safari, Inc. Time Safari is a company that takes hunters to any time in the past to hunt any animals they wish to shoot. Eckels give the clerk a check for ten thousand dollars and ask if they guarantee that hunters come back alive. The clerk replies that the company guarantees nothing but encounters with dinosaurs. The hunters must obey their guides, shooting only what and when they are instructed to shoot. Any disobedience will result in a $10,000 fine plus, a possible government-imposed penalty.
Eckel remarks that if Keith, the progressive candidate he favored in yesterday’s presidential election, had lost the contest, Eckels might be in the office now, trying to go to some other time to escape the outcome. The clerk agrees that it would be awful if Keith wasn’t elected. The two men return to discussing the opportunity Eckels will have to shoot a Tyrannosaurus Rex. The clerk told Eckels if he is attacked and eaten by a dinosaur, the company is not liable. A numerous amount of safari guides died last year, along with twice as many hunters. The clerk wants Eckels to be sure that he wants to make the trip.
Eckels indicates that he does, and he is introduced to Travis, the experienced guide who will lead this safari. Travis and Eckels, carrying rifles, enter the time machine, which is already occupied by Travis’s assistant, Lesperance, and two other hunters (Billings and Kramer). The machine kicks into operation and the nights, days, weeks, months, years, centuries, and millennia whiz by leaving A.D. 2055. The men soon arrive in the midst of a jungle that existed 60,002,055 years before president Keith. That’s a long time.
As they look out of the time machine, Travis points out a metal path into the jungle. Made of anti-gravity metal, it hovers half a foot above the ground. It was placed there by the company to prevent hunters from in any way having physical contact with the jungle. Travis instructs them that they are never to leave the path, for any reason. He insists that the men pay careful attention to this rule and never violate it. The hunters couldn’t touch nor shoot any animals unless Travis approved. When Eckels asks why, Travis explains that the company does not want to take any chances by changing anything about the future. Destroying the smallest things could impact the future in a major way. Travis draws out the example of killing one mouse and articulates the potential aftershocks of it: “Step on a mouse and you leave your print, like a Grand Canyon, across Eternity. Queen Elizabeth might never be born, Washington might not cross the Delaware, there might never be a United States at all.”
Together, the five of them depart on the path to find the dinosaur. The Tyrannosaurus Rex has been carefully scouted by Travis on a previous trip to the past, where he waited to see when one of the dinosaurs would die naturally and then timed the next hunting trip accordingly. When they reach the place where the Tyrannosaurus is scheduled to appear, Eckels begins to have second thoughts, and he becomes increasingly more scared as the dinosaur comes into sight. Eckels describes the encounter as, “a sound of thunder.” Eckels is paralyzed by fear, and Travis yells at him, telling him to go back to the time machine. Eckels stepped of the path into the grass dazed and confused. After Travis came back to the machine he was furious to see the mud on the boots, and for him stepping of the path. Travis threatens to kill Eckels, but ultimately, they clean up and begin to travel back to present day.
When they exit the time machine, Travis anxiously checks in with the man behind the desk to see if everything is ok, and the man tells him it is. The man, however, is acting a bit differently than when they left for the safari, and Eckels notices a strange smell in the air. It’s faint, but something is different. He looks around him trying to figure out what has changed. The immediate thing that he noticed had changed was the sign upon the wall. The words were spelled differently, and Eckels begins to panic, seeing firsthand the repercussions of his stroll off of the path. He sits down and inspects himself, particularly the bottoms of his shoes. He found a dead butterfly and was shocked. Panicked, he asks the man behind the desk who won the election the other day, and the man responds, “You joking? You know damn well. Deutscher, of course! Who else?” The death of the butterfly has resulted in the future being changed.