In Bradbury’s story, “A Sound of Thunder”, time travel exists and it is used in terms of entertainment. People can pay a large sum of money to travel to any time period they like as long as they follow the rules. Though they warn that any small wrong move can cause a ripple effect and change the future as they know it, the government in this world is still allowing anyone to time travel. Eckels, the main character is excited to travel back in time to kill a dinosaur and though he was warned, he didn’t really understand the dangers in his trip. Prior to his departure, we learn that everyone is happy with the President that had been recently elected. Travis, Eckels guide, warns the hunters that they must follow the rules given and that changing anything, no matter how small, can change the world in which they live. At that point they don’t know what kind of changes the wrong move would entail. During their trip the other hunters and Travis become upset with Eckels for not following the rules. Upon their return they see the changes that occurred due to breaking the rules. Their President was now the one they were originally opposed to and the language itself is different. This story is very similar to other stories about time travel and it really made me think about how we don’t realize how small actions can affect the bigger picture. In reality, we would have no way of knowing what one action or another can mean for our future. Hopefully, if we ever get to the point of time travel in the real world, we would first discover how changes to the past would affect the future before allowing just anybody to travel and possibly completely change our world.
Sandkings is a story about fictional creatures called Sandkings and their keeper, Kress. Kress likes to keep the pets he finds the most interesting and hates anything considered “cute”. He is businessman who is often away from home and lost a few pets due to his absence. Kress went on to find replacement pets and ran into this shop called Wo and Shade, Importers. This is where Wo introduces him to the Sandkings. Kress is at first dubious about the lifeforms. They don’t seem interesting enough for him and he wants something more appealing. Once Wo gains his interest by describing how they go at war, and how they worship, he decided to take them home. He fast grew tired of the inactivity as he was ready to see them at war. As Wo described, they would also come to worship him. However, Kress didn’t have the patience to treat them properly. He grew impatient and manipulated the creatures to fight one another by withholding their food. Because the Sandkings are intelligent creatures, they realized what Kress was doing and they had to continue fighting if they wanted to eat. Kress soon noticed they had begun to change his face in ugly ways on their built castles and this upset him. However, Kress was more preoccupied with impressing his friends and assuring that they’d be continuously entertaining him that he turned them against him. In Kress’ mind, these creatures were still going to worship him as he was their ‘God’ and he was the one feeding them. He invited friends over to bet on their wars. Ultimately, Cath, another character, opposed his cruel actions and she failed. Kress killed Cath though he didn’t actually mean to. He was a cruel person whose actions led the horrific deaths of other characters as well as his own death. We see how Kress spiraled into his own death by fault of his own. In a sense, Kress got what he deserved for his cruelty.
This story, “The Things They Carried” is told by an unnamed narrator. Lieutenant Jimmy Cross is the person whose story we are told in third person. Each soldier is introduced by name and also by the tangible things they carry with them. The narrator lists all the tangible things that the soldiers carry such as, hygiene supplies, weapons, food, water etc. Each detail given about what they carry is selected carefully to be later explained in the story. By listing what each individual soldier carries with them it gives the reader insight on the personality of each Soldier. For example, Dave Jensen carries “a toothbrush, dental floss and several hotel-size bars of soap” because he practices field hygiene. We’re also told Henry Dobbins carries extra food rations because he is a big man. We get many examples of the intangible things they carry and why. The narrator also explains that each soldier carries intangible things with them as well. They carry “shameful memories,” “emotional baggage,” pain, fear, desire, along with pride and dignity. So often they see their brothers suffer and die without having the time to really react to the situation or time to properly grief. Though they were trained to fight alongside one another, no one is ever prepared for the horrors of war. As trained soldiers they’re expected to be tough and keep moving after the many tragedies they will face. The truth is they’re scared. As the narrator points out, while they are under attack they lay there wondering if they will be next, promising that they will become better parents as though that might save them from dying. They hold anger towards the soldiers who injure themselves to be able to return home. The interesting part is they are also envious of them. They found a way to escape the environment they’re in. Throughout this time, Lt. Cross is in love with this woman named Martha, obsessed even. He knows she is not in love with him and she never will be. Still, she’s his main focus. He carries around her letters, pebble she sent him and he pictures. In a way, his escape is all the time he imagines spending with her. He makes up scenarios in his head of them together. This distracts Lt. Cross and when Lavender dies, he blames himself for being distracted for not being the best leader to the team he’s fighting beside. Once he realizes the damage he’s done while being busy fantasizing about Martha, he burns her letters and pictures. He then becomes present in the moment. He promises that he won’t be so lax with his soldiers. That even though they may not like it, he’s going to be a strict leader to prevent another tragedy because of his inability to focus on his leadership. Lt. Cross will now always carry the guilt with him. This story teaches us that there is so much more to war than what civilians can physically see. These soldiers carry emotional baggage. They carry the heavy burden of the horror that is war.
It’s always been interesting to me how arranged marriages sometimes really do end up working perfectly the way I think they were meant to. Sanjeev and Twinkle seem to be having a rough start in their marriage. Sanjeev is clearly someone who is more interested in what others think of him rather than what he thinks of himself. Twinkle is quite the opposite. She is a free spirit who is still a bit traditional but has an extremely curious mind and isn’t afraid to explore. Given the differences between the pair, this is one of the arranged marriages that seems like it might not work out. Twinkle tests Sanjeev many many times with the religious things she finds in their new home. She sees them as something that must be of importance and are worthy of keeping around. She doesn’t see them as something threatening to herself or her beliefs. Sanjeev however, is more concerned with what his colleagues will think when they come visit. In some ways he does see those things as a threat. The thought of not pleasing those around him at work seems to scare him. He seems very insecure as opposed to his wife who just does as she pleases. She doesn’t seem to fight or argue too much with Sanjeev even though she is aware of his insecurities and the fact that he is more concerned about what outsiders think of him than what he or she thinks of him. I think this shows that Twinkle has hope that he will eventually come around. Sanjeev seems very tense and serious in the beginning, but towards the end it seems like he is taking things with more ease. At first, he seems unhappy with Twinkles ways and wants her to be more like him. Twinkle doesn’t pay mind to him. Instead she is patient with him. Sanjeev says “But instead of feeling irritated, as he had been ever since they’d moved into the house together, he felt a pang of anticipation at the thought of her rushing unsteadily down the winding staircase in them, scratching the floor a bit in her path.” He uses the word “anticipation” and its not in a negative way. He understands why Prabal thinks that Twinkle is “wow.” I think at this point Sanjeev is either remembering the early part of their relationship and is happier with his wife or Sanjeev has gotten the validation he sought from others and is now more at ease.
I have read the story a few times over and I wish that we’d also been able to read this story from another point of view. While I understand that that’s not the point of the story, I still would’ve liked more information from someone other than the narrator who was suffering from mental illness. Being that the narrator was not clear headed, I believe that this would have helped the reader understand more of what others thought the narrator was experiencing. I wonder how story was interpreted back when it was originally released because of the thought provoking content which was not well understood at that time. I found this story to be very captivating due to the rise to madness that the narrator experienced and seemed to be unaware of. I’m unclear about the ending of this story, at some point she begins to talk of the rope she has hidden in her room. I thought this was indicating that she would commit suicide and then it just ends with John fainting. Her account of what was happening could not have been all there was because we can see how she turned mad. So much so that she thought she was the woman trapped in the wallpaper and she thought removing the wallpaper would free her. It left me wanting to know if there was something she wasn’t saying or something she didn’t say simply because she was so obsessed in her own world that there was no way she could understand how things seemed to everyone else. For all we know, she was in a mental hospital and there were bars on the window for her safety, Jennie was her nurse and John was simply her doctor. I think that this shows how society has been conditioned to tell people who suffer from mental illness that “it’s all in their head” and “there is no reason to suffer.”