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Utopian Societies In The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas And The Lottery

1942 words - 8 pages

The Utopian Societies in the Short Stories “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas,” by Ursula K. Le Guin, and “The Lottery,” by Shirley Jackson

The accounts of utopian societies in the short stories “The Ones Who Walk Away from
Omelas,” by Ursula K. Le Guin, and “The Lottery,” by Shirley Jackson have shocking twists as
the reader learns that there is a high price to pay for their apparent happiness. These societies
seem perfect on the surface; however, as we understand more about its citizens and their
traditions, we learn that utopia is exactly what its definition suggests: impossible. The sacrifice
made by these communities in order to keep their society perfectly happy turns out to be
fruitless. Their ideas of how society should function are doomed to fail, because people are
inherently prone to selfishness and often engage in evil. This, paradoxically, condemns them
tounhappiness.

In “The Lottery,” the town’s people held an annual lottery in which all of the citizens
participated. The twist is that its winner would ultimately be stoned to death. Old Man Warner
believed this tradition guaranteed good crops for the year and, therefore, food and longevity for
the rest of the town’s people. The majority of the people, however, did not know the purpose of
this tradition and simply conformed to it. There were no attempts to change the situation, and the
town’s people eagerly participated in it – even if in the process they were hurting their friends
and family. In “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas,” the happiness of the people in town is
never abundant even though they live in a society that thrives. The people act happy; however,
they are aware that this happiness is dependent on the abuse and neglect of a small child locked
in a basement. Their success was due to the degradation of that child, and everyone
approximately eight and older were aware of this. The ones who did not agree with the tradition

left town, however, the majority of the people were able to rationalize and accept that, in order
for them to thrive, someone had to pay the price.

The high price the child in Omelas and the lottery winner in the village paid reflected
onthe rest of the population. Because everyone was encouraged to sacrifice one another for their
own well being, the utopia began to fall apart as the horrible things they did to one
anotherultimately destroyed their relationships. From a very early age, thechildren were taught
traditions that validated the evil in human nature; they were not encouragedto question their
meaning. Indoctrinating children guaranteed the traditions’ continuity. AsJackson explains it,
“someone gave little Davy Hutchinson a few pebbles” (844). The perversityis in the fact that
these pebbles would then be used to stone Tessie Hutchinson, Davy’s mother.Little Davy did not
know then what this meant. Nevertheless, this gesture says that the peoplearound Davy were
...

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