The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas Essay

The short story “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” was written by Ursula K. Le Guin and published in 1973. In this short story, Le Guin presents a seemingly utopian society where everybody is happy except for one child who is being tortured so the rest of the society can be happy. In Le Guin’s short story, the city of Omelas is a happy place where “joyous citizens dance and feast” (Le Guin 1). However, there is a dark secret that the citizens of Omelas keep from everyone: one child must be tortured so everyone can have fun.

The short story does not reveal what the child looks like or why it is being tortured, but it does mention how long the child has been suffering. Le Guin says that for thirty-three years no one has offered to let the child go free. No matter how much this society tries to hide its dark secret, some people are uncomfortable with it and leave town. The short story begins by describing how wonderful everything in Omelas is. It shows the reader how happy everyone in this society is and how much they love their lives.

But Le Guin also gives readers a hint at Omelas’ dark secret by saying that “there was one street of which even the poorest person was proudest; that, short as it was, you could not go down it without hearing sweet music…(1)” . This short sentence prepares readers for what is coming next in the short story because Le Guin uses different words to describe this street than she used to describe other parts of Omelas. When Le Guin describes everything else in Omelas, she uses words like “joyous citizens dance and feast” (1).

But when describing the one street, she uses words like “sweet music” (1) and short sentences that don’t go into detail like “you could not go down it without hearing sweet music” (Le Guin 1). This short sentence creates a dark image in readers minds of what the child might look like. Le Guin does this because she wants to prepare readers for something terrible without giving too much away. Le Guin leaves the reader asking questions about why Omelas is so happy if they have to torture one child to be that way.

Why would anyone want to live in a city where the government is torturing children? Some people might say it doesn’t matter how looks or why the child is being tortured because everybody in Omelas is happy. But Le Guin leaves it up to the reader to decide what to do. There are two choices for how people can respond to this short story. Some might say they would stay and live their lives happily with the rest of the citizens so they wouldn’t be responsible for allowing one child’s suffering.

These people might say that nobody made them go check out this short story, so they should just continue living their normal lives without bringing up anything about Omelas or its dark secret. This option shows readers that some people would choose not care about anyone else but themselves because even if somebody tries to tell them about something terrible going on, they wouldn’t care because it doesn’t affect them. However, others might say they would leave Omelas and walk away from this happy place so they wouldn’t have the guilt of being a part of what happened to that child.

These people might actually go as far as telling everyone about Omelas’s dark secret just so children would never have to be tortured ever again. This option shows readers that some people are willing to sacrifice their own lives for the greater good because even if it means they have to give up everything they know and live a different life, it is still worth doing so if it will help other people not suffer like what happens in short story “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”.

Le Guin’s short story, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas,” is a story about a city that houses many people. In this society, it is viewed as shameful not to love the child in the basement of the Utopian community, but there are some who refuse to accept such immoral treatment of other human beings and choose to walk away from the oppressive system instead.

Written by Le Guin and published 1971, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” tells a short story based around a group called the “Shakers” who live in Omelas where they live fulfilling lives without sin or crime. However, their happiness comes at a cost: one child lives in squalor in a basement while they live.

This child is kept in squalor to ensure happiness for the rest of the community, even though many of the people living life in Omelas are aware that this one child suffers daily. Furthermore, some are even against keeping this child captive since it goes against their beliefs, but do not leave due to fear of jeopardizing their own lives and happiness.

Le Guin’s short story, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” is told through third-person omniscient point-of-view. The short story opens with Le Guin describing Omelas as seemingly perfect; however, she carefully foreshadows by mentioning that there is a small voice inside the narrator that whispers the true nature of Omelas. Therefore, this short story presents a moral dilemma to its audience where they are forced to decide whether or not it is wrong to keep the child in captivity given their happiness is dependent upon it.

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