Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas

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“The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas”
- Ursula K. Le Guin

The short story “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas,” emphasizes the thought that happiness always comes with a price to pay. In the beginning of the story, Ursula K. Le Guin tells the reader of a town or village full of joy and cheerfulness. “In other streets the music beat faster…people were dancing.” (Page 1) She leaves you to imagine the blissful city as you see it. “Perhaps it would be best if you imagined it as your own fancy bids.” (Page 1)

Then she flips the story around and tells how there is a child that is forced to live in a broom closet, in a basement, with no windows. It sits in the corner, on a dirty floor, in its own filth. She writes about how nobody usually comes, except to stare at the child or kick it to get it to stand up. Though all the people of Omelas know it is there, no one ever tries to take the child away from this

disgusting place it lives. They all know that “the beauty of there city, the tenderness of their friendships, the health of their children, etc.” (Page 3) all depend on the suffering of this child. If anyone were to bring the child up into the sunlight, they would risk all the happiness and beauty of the city and it would never be the same as it was. She presents a dilemma and forces the reader to choose between the happiness of the child, or the happiness of the whole city of Omelas.

This is an allegory for the relationship between the wealthy (eg. Developed countries) and poverty (eg. Developing countries). The wealthy, developed countries (Canada, USA) are represented by the people of Omelas, and the poor, developing countries (Sudan, Somalia) are represented by the child. Without the poor, the wealthy would not have the happiness it does.

The citizens of the joyful town benefit from the child being so badly treated because without it, they wouldn’t understand how much better their life is than the child’s. “They feel disgust, which they...
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