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Ursula Le Guin's The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas

1105 words - 4 pages

Ursula LeGuin's The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas

Utopia is any state, condition, or place of ideal perfection. In Ursula LeGuin's short story "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas" the city of Omelas is described as a utopia. "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas" presents a challenge of conscience for anyone who chooses to live in Omelas.

Omelas is described by the narrator as the story begins. The city appears to be very likable. At times the narrator does not know the truth and therefore guesses what could be, presenting these guesses as often essential detail. The narrator also lets the reader mold the city. The narrator states the technology Omelas could have and then says "or they could have none of that: it doesn't matter. As you like it"(877). The method of letting the reader make the city the way he choose makes the city more desirable by him" Perhaps it would be best if you imagined it as your own fancy bids, assuming it will rise to the occasion, for certainly I cannot suit you all"(LeGuin 876). Now the reader might feel that the city is fictious. The narrator also asks the readers "Now do you believe in them?"(879) Asking if the reader believes what the narrator says about the festival, city, and joy of the people of Omelas implies that the reader should have doubts. Can the narrator be trusted by a reader who is being asked to approve the details of the story? Such questions raise doubts in the reader's mind about what the narrator is conveying.

With the help of the reader, the narrator makes Omelas appealing to everyone. "Omelas sounds in my words like a city in a fairy tale, long ago and far away, once upon a time"(LeGuin 876). Omelas does sound too good to be true. While the narrator is saying all that Omelas has and does not have, she says "One thing I know there is none of in Omelas is guilt"(877). The reader later finds out that all Omelas' happiness and joy depend on a child who is locked in a cellar. If the child were rescued from its cell, the whole city of Omelas would falter. The city's great happiness, is splendors and health, its architectural, music, and science, all are dependent upon the misery of this one child. The Omelas people know that if the child were released, then the possible happiness of the degraded child would be set against the sure failure of the happiness of many. The people have been taught compassion and the terrible reality of justice, and on this they base their lives. The city is without guilt, so the ones who stay in Omelas have no guilt that their happiness is because of one child's torture and pain. But there are some who walk away from Omelas. These are few, but they are the ones that have guilt. They could not live in a place, no matter how perfect, that thrives off a child's torment.

All of the narrator's questions invite the reader to place ;himself in the position of the people of Omelas. Do you need this to make you happy? Then you may have it. Once the...

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