The Use of Butterfly Effect Concept

The Use of “Butterfly Effect” Concept in the Story “A Sound of Thunder”

The “butterfly effect” concept has for a long time been attributed to a meteorologist Edward Norton. He used the concept in his proposed chaos theory in the description of how complex and large system like that of the ecosystem can be affected by what people would consider as small inconsequential changes. He had suggested that whenever an individual in one part of the world (say Texas) flaps a butterfly, such small change in the ecosystem will cause an effect on another part of the world (say South America). This means that a very small effect at one place (part of the system) will always have some effect on other places (parts of the system).

As used in “The Sound of Thunder” the concept implies to the kind of change that can result from a simple action as that of stepping on a butterfly, as it happened in this story with Eckels (Bradbury, 1). The butterfly, being part of the ecosystem, is believed to have had a very significant contribution to the entire system and that by eliminating it, the system can totally lose its balance and this alters the future. The story portrays the future of Eckels as totally different from his past, as was seen in the beginning of the story. This happens because he has stepped on the prehistoric soils. The impression created is that being a prey to a number of predators, the loss of a butterfly and the offspring would mean that a number of predators will lose their prey. This will also be translated to the death of tertiary predators in the food chain and the cycle will affect the entire system.

The movie “A Sound of Thunder” has presented a number of cases that relate to what happens in the chaos theory. First, Ray Bradbury shows a vision that having one butterfly crushed could take about 65 million years to determine the outcome of an election (Bradbury, 1). This is what he paints in the story “A sound of Thunder.” He brings up the issue of a butterfly being stepped on accidently by a big game hunter, Eckels. The hunter then manages to return in time to chase after the tyrannosaurus Rex, which to him was a thundering prize since it was just awaiting its death, having been marked by the scientists with a paint bomb which allowed its killing by hunters. The animal could also have been killed through the volcanic eruption that just followed. However, he realizes that his action had caused dinosaur to die. He is not accepted either since the consequences of the demise of the insect also affected him. This is seen when he returns and learns that an election had just been worn by a candidate who is a dictator. He confesses that even the written English was never the same (Bradbury, 37)

Second, a scientist posed an argument that whenever one kills a bee, the pollination of a number of flowers will not take place. This means that some animals will starve since they will not have flowers to eat. This will, in turn, cause an effect on the entire ecosystem in a long-term basis. The story continues to explain that the death of one butterfly made the CGI creatures take over the world (Bradbury, 26). Even though the story does not reveal the progressive changes in the system leading to this last state, it is clear that by killing a simple butterfly a whole food chain will be affected and a cumulative effect would result into such a state.

In conclusion, one can question the effect of the killing of the insect as portrayed on the story based on the fact that, either way (being stepped on or being killed by the volcanic eruption) the insect would have still died and be buried under the resulting debris. This means that, the contribution of the insect would only be in form of its decomposer to ultimately add to some un-coverable oil drops. However, it could have also been possible for the insect to gain strength and fly away. This way, the insect would have continued with its contribution to the ecosystem.

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