Estimated read time: 4 min read

One Sentence Summary

The consequences of time travel become devastatingly clear in this classic science fiction short story.


"A Sound of Thunder" is a science fiction short story written by Ray Bradbury. It was first published in 1952 and is widely considered one of Bradbury's finest works. The story explores the concept of time travel and its potential impact on the future. Through a thrilling narrative, Bradbury delves into the dangers of altering the past and the butterfly effect, where small changes can have significant and unforeseen consequences.

Brief Synopsis

The story is set in the year 2055, where time travel has become a commercial enterprise. The protagonist, Eckels, pays to go on a prehistoric hunting safari to kill a Tyrannosaurus Rex. However, he is warned about the strict rules to follow, as even the slightest alteration in the past can have catastrophic effects on the future.

Plot Overview and Setting

The story unfolds in the future, where time travel is a reality. The company, Time Safari Inc., offers wealthy individuals the opportunity to travel back in time to hunt dinosaurs. The setting shifts to the prehistoric era, specifically the age of dinosaurs, where the safari takes place. As the characters traverse this unfamiliar and dangerous terrain, the plot raises questions about the ethics and consequences of altering history.

Main Characters

EckelsThe main protagonist who is eager to hunt a Tyrannosaurus Rex, but becomes careless with the rules.
TravisThe safari guide who emphasizes the importance of adhering to the rules of time travel.
LesperanceA fellow hunter on the safari who expresses concern about the potential consequences of altering the past.

Plot Summary

Chapter 1

Eckels arrives at Time Safari Inc. and meets Travis, the guide. Travis explains the gravity of time travel and the necessity of following strict rules. The hunters are warned not to touch anything in the past.

Chapter 2

The group travels back to the prehistoric era and sets out to hunt a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Eckels becomes overwhelmed by the grandeur of the dinosaurs and is shaken by the realization that they are about to face a creature that has been extinct for millions of years.

Chapter 3

As the hunters prepare to shoot the dinosaur, Eckels becomes frightened and hesitates, violating the rules by stepping off the designated path. Travis is furious, knowing that this small action could alter the course of history.

Chapter 4

The hunters return to the present and notice significant changes. The English language is altered, and the outcome of a recent election has changed. Eckels discovers a crushed butterfly on the sole of his boot, realizing that his actions in the past have caused a chain reaction of disastrous consequences in the future.

Main Events

  1. Arrival at Time Safari Inc. and meeting with Travis.
  2. Time travel to the prehistoric era and encountering dinosaurs.
  3. Eckels' violation of the rules by stepping off the path.
  4. The return to the present and the discovery of altered history.

Themes and Insights


  1. Consequences of Actions: The story emphasizes the delicate balance of cause and effect, illustrating how a small action in the past can lead to profound alterations in the future.
  2. Ethical Dilemmas: "A Sound of Thunder" raises ethical questions about the impact of human intervention in the natural course of history.
  3. Fear and Regret: Eckels' fear and subsequent regret serve as a cautionary tale about the potential repercussions of recklessness.


The narrative prompts readers to contemplate the fragility of time and the potential ramifications of altering historical events. It also highlights the interconnectedness of events and the potential long-term effects of seemingly insignificant actions.

Reader's Takeaway

"A Sound of Thunder" offers a gripping exploration of time travel and its consequences, urging readers to consider the far-reaching effects of their actions. The story serves as a cautionary reminder about the importance of mindfulness and responsibility in the face of powerful technological advancements.


Ray Bradbury's "A Sound of Thunder" presents a thought-provoking narrative that continues to captivate readers with its exploration of time travel, ethics, and the butterfly effect. Through its vivid storytelling and compelling themes, the story remains a timeless classic in the realm of science fiction literature.

A Sound of Thunder FAQ

  1. What is 'A Sound of Thunder' about?

    A Sound of Thunder is a science fiction short story by Ray Bradbury that explores the consequences of time travel. When a group of hunters goes back in time to hunt dinosaurs, one of them makes a seemingly small mistake that has major repercussions for the future.

  2. Who is the author of 'A Sound of Thunder'?

    The author of 'A Sound of Thunder' is Ray Bradbury, an acclaimed science fiction writer known for his imaginative and thought-provoking stories.

  3. What is the significance of the butterfly in the story?

    In 'A Sound of Thunder', the butterfly represents the concept of the butterfly effect, where a small action in the past can lead to major changes in the future. This idea plays a crucial role in the story's exploration of time travel and its consequences.

  4. How does 'A Sound of Thunder' explore the theme of cause and effect?

    'A Sound of Thunder' delves into the theme of cause and effect by showcasing how a seemingly insignificant action in the past can have far-reaching and unforeseen consequences in the future. It highlights the interconnectedness of events and the potential ripple effects of our choices.

  5. What lessons can be learned from 'A Sound of Thunder'?

    One of the key lessons from 'A Sound of Thunder' is the importance of considering the potential consequences of our actions, no matter how small they may seem. It serves as a cautionary tale about the impact of our decisions on the world around us.