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The Ones Who Walked Away From Omelas

1017 words - 5 pages

Short Story Essay On Omelas

In the short story “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas,” published in 1973, Ursula Le Guin portrays a city without sorrow, misery, and jealousy. The city reveals an enormous amount of happiness and joyfulness; everyone is happy, healthy, the weather is perfect, music is great, and the overall quality of life is great. It is a city filled with elegance, beautiful scenery, and yet is quite simple. While reading the reader can catch the sense that Le Guin is trying to portray a utopian society. The only problem however, utopian societies do not exist. Coincidently, there is in fact something terrible; a child who is being sacrificed. He is being forced to live a harsh life for the sake of the people’s happiness and the idea that happiness comes with a price to pay is brought forth. The story begins with the festival of summer. Here the town is described to have beautiful streets, great craftsmen, cheerful people, and to be free of negativity. However, this is at the price of a horrible and gruesome act. The town’s perfection is dependent upon the misery of one child. As long as the child is treated sadistically, the people of Omelas can enjoy their happy lives of success and perfection. Le Guin uses a Utilitarian idea where the suffering of one kid is made out to be a tradeoff for the good that it brings the rest of the city. As described by Le Guin, the suffering of just one child does has less of an effect than having thousands of happy citizens. This is emphasized by Le Guin in a quote towards the end of the story, “they all understand that their happiness, the beauty of their city, the tenderness of their friendships, the health of their children, the wisdom of their scholars, the skill of their makers, even the abundance of their harvest and the kindly weathers of their skies, depend wholly on this child's abominable misery” (Le Guin 733). Utilitarianism is a theory defined as meaning, the aim of action should be the largest possible balance of pleasure over pain or the greatest happiness of the greatest number. Ultimately, utilitarianism deals with the consequences of an action. The citizens of Omelas would be found malevolent because they are acting in their desire to be happy; meanwhile, mistreating someone to obtain this desire. Not everyone can cope with what is going and accept the city’s practice which is further emphasized in the quote, “These people go out into the street, and walk down the city alone. They keep walking and walk straight out of the city of Omelas, through the beautiful gates” (Le Guin 734). The people who leave come to the realization that they’re happiness isn’t worth the cost of someone else being tortured in order to receive it. The story ends with further accentuation, "The...

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