Analysis of the Academic Language of "A Sound of Thunder"
"A Sound of Thunder" by science fiction writer Ray Bradbury explores the effects of technology on modern man. The academic language of the text supports the suspense, characters, plot and theme of the story. In the context of English-language arts, the vocabulary use highlights effectiive foreshadowing which drives the mulit-layered story. The story opens to a scene of an American presidential election. On the eve of the election, a group of rich businessmen embark on a time travel safari to the past to hunt dinosaurs. Although the safari leaders take precautions to minimize the impact of the hunting party on the past, one member of the party, Eckels, violates the rules and leaves the path he is told to never leave and carelessly steps on a butterfly. Returning to the present, the group finds that the world has dramatically changed by the death of the pre-historic butterfly. Bradbury’s tale entertains and simultaneously speculates about the dangers of time travel. The ripple effect of chaos caused by seemingly unrelated events in the past to the future is explained in the context and climax of the story.
The following text is taken from "A Sound of Thunder"
“Unbelievable.” Eckels breathed, the light of the Machine on his thin face. “A real Time Machine. He shook his head. “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 the United States.” “Yes,” said the man behind the desk. “We’re lucky. If Deutscher had gotten in, we’d have the worse kind of dictatorship. There’s an anti everything man for you, a militarist, anti- Christ, 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. Of course its not our business to conduct Escapes, but to form Safaris. Anyway, Keith’s President now. All you got to worry about is-” “Shooting my dinosaur,” Eckels finished it for him.
“A Tyrannosaurus Rex.” The Tyrant Lizard, the most incredible monster in history. Sign this release. Anything happens to you, we’re not responsible. These dinosaurs are hungry.”Eckels flushed angrily. “Trying to scare me!”
“Frankly yes, We don’t want anyone going who’ll panic at the first shot. Six Safari leaders were killed last year, and a dozen hunters. We’re here to give you the severest thrill a real hunter could ever ask for. Traveling you back sixty million years to bag the biggest game in all of Time. Your personal check’s still there. Tear it up. ‘Mr. Eckels looked at the check. His fingers twitched. “Good luck,” said the man behind the desk. “Mr. Travis, he’s all yours.” Bradbury (1952)
The academic language of 'A Sound of Thunder' drives the plot, characters, and theme of the story through vocabulary choices for words, sentences, and paragraphs. Each choice contributes to the suspense of the text through language use and literary techniques. Bradbury's academic vocabulary creates foreshadowing of dangers to come in the parrallel plots and episodes of this suspense filled, multi-demensional tale. Individual words infer the possiblity of danger if not careful. Similar warnings are found throughout the story. The academic use of words support the theme which infers through example that over-reliance on technology could be the death of man. The use of language also suggests that man should be careful not to destroy or interfere with nature. Academic vocabulary further supports the English language arts literary devices of characterization and plot and creates the character of an ego-driven Eckels.
The language of "A Sound of Thunder" compares a new president to the anti-christ. The word anti is used three times to enforce the parellel structure of dislike for the presidential choice. Ray Bradbury involves the reader through vocabulary use which is sometimes purposely ambiguous, allowing the reader to draw his own conclusions of the effect of events. The title of 'A Sound of Thunder' leaves the reader to speculate if the tale is about a tumultuous relationship, a major event, or an actual thunder storm. The answer is not spelled out and the reader is drawn to infer meanings through the use of language. Language also informs the literary device of foreshadowing. Eckels is warned of dangers of small changes in the past upon the creation of catastrophic circumstances for the future. When devastating earth changes occur thousands of years in the future, those effects have already been foreshadowed through constant warnings to Eckels to stay off the path. Eckles' killing of a butterfly when going off the path predicts future calamities.
English language arts academic language is further supported through the story-telling device of creating suspense. Foreshadowing, dangerous action, and pacing create the storyline suspense. Academic vocabulary choices highlight characterization. of Eckels' intense,unrelenting desire to kill a T-Rex at the price to civilization. This disregard is illustrated by disastrous consequences of climate changes in the implied theme of man's disrespect for the laws of nature.