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"The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas"

711 words - 3 pages

The short story “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” by Ursula LeGuin's is a story about a joyous city with a small town feel, or is it. The story takes place during the Festival of Summer. Children ride decorated horses in races and are seen playing in the fields, in their bare feet. The day is sunny and bright with music filling the air. On the surface, Omelas appears to be a quite waterfront community with pleasant citizens “merry women carrying their babies and chatting as they walked” (512). LeGuin’s describes the citizens of this small community as “not simple folk, though they were happy” (512). If fact, the citizens of Omelas are smart and cultured. As the story unfolds, the truths about Omelas begin to surface; drooz is introduced as well as the child that all know about, wish to forget about, but need.
Omelas is a unique city that is described as “a city in a fairy tale, long ago and far away, once upon a time” (513). The ...view middle of the document...

The city might appear to be perfect, but drugs are present. Drooz is the drug of choice in this community although beer is present too. Drooze is the perfect drug and is not habit forming this drug “brings a great lightness and brilliance to the mind and limbs, and then after some hours a dreamy languor, and wonderful visions at last of the very arcane and inmost secrets the Universe, as well as exciting the pleaser of sex beyond all belief” (514). Later in the story one will understand the need for this drug in this city.
Although this city appears to be the perfect city, there is another reason why this city is unique. At an unknown time and place the city and its people made an agreement for the exchange of guaranteed happiness. You can say the city made a deal with the devil. The agreement includes imprisoning a child in a basement in unsanitary conditions. The room where the child is held has no windows, has a damp dirt floor, and is no bigger than a broom closet. The door to the room is continuously locked. The child inside is ten years old, naked, frightened, half-starved, and is only fed once in awhile. On occasion, the child is showed off. A group will be brought to see the child. They open the door, one of the onlookers may walk in a kick the child to make it stand while the others, nothing is said, the door is closed and they all leave. The visitors do not stay long and never talk to the imprisoned child. The child cries out from time to time, but no one hears or listens to the cries of the child.
After learning about the child in the basement, I reflected back to a passage from earlier in the story, “if you can’t lick ‘em, join ‘em. If it hurts repeat it” (513). The citizens of Omelas may have tried to fight back but were defeated. They learned that their happiness comes from only one person being tour tortured and treated inhumanely. The citizens have come to an agreement that the happiness of the city can be achieved by the misery of one child. The ones who can’t “join ‘em” leave Omelas and are never heard from again.

Works Cited

LeGuin's, Ursula."The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” Select Writers of the Twentieth Century: A Brief Anthology. New York: Pearson Custom Publishing, 2005. Print.

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