The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas- Ursula K. Le Guin

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 481
  • Published : January 13, 2013
Open Document
Text Preview
"The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas
"The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" is a 1973 short story by Ursula K. Le Guin. It is a philosophical parable with a sparse plot featuring bare and abstract descriptions of characters; the city of Omelas is the primary focus of the narrative.[1] "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" was nominated for the Locus Award for Best Short Fiction in 1974[2] and won the Hugo Award for Best Short Story in 1974[3] Publication : Le Guin's story was originally published in New Dimensions 3, a hard-cover science fiction anthology edited by Robert Silverberg, in October 1973. It was reprinted in Le Guin's The Wind's Twelve Quarters in 1975, and has been frequently anthologized elsewhere It has also appeared as an independently published, 32-page hardcover book for young adults in 1993 Plot summary

In the story, Omelas is a utopian city of happiness and delight, whose inhabitants are intelligent and cultured. Everything about Omelas is pleasing, except for the city's one atrocity: the good fortune of Omelas requires that a single unfortunate child be kept in perpetual filth, darkness and misery, and that all her citizens should be told of this upon coming of age. After being exposed to the truth, most of the people of Omelas are initially shocked and disgusted, but are ultimately able to come to terms with the fact and resolve to live their lives in such a manner as to make the suffering of the unfortunate child worth it. However, a few of the citizens, young and old, silently walk away from the city, and no one knows where they go. The story ends with "The place they go towards is a place even less imaginable to most of us than the city of happiness. I cannot describe it at all. It is possible it does not exist. But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas." Background and themes : The central idea of this psychomyth, the scapegoat", writes Le Guin, "turns up in Dostoyevsky's Brothers Karamazov, and several people have asked me, rather suspiciously, why I gave the credit to William James. The fact is, I haven't been able to re-read Dostoyevsky, much as I loved him, since I was twenty-five, and I'd simply forgotten he used the idea. But when I met it in James' 'The Moral Philosopher and the Moral Life,' it was with a shock of recognition." Character = List of Characters(no specifcs given for any one person in the story) - Citizens of Omelas The citizens of Omelas, as shown by the difficulty the narrator has with describing "a happy man," are joyful and genuinely happy, but it is not a happiness devoid of responsibility. The citizens all "know it is there" (it being the child in the cellar)and see that their happiness could not be without the misery of one. As the narrator says, "to praise despair is to condemn delight," and so the inverse is true as well. The citizens of Omelas choose to celebrate and praise the delight they feel in their city of happiness, this, therefore, condemning the child in its misery. The citizens are not less complex than us and are not barbarians. Beyond this the narrator concedes and tells its audience to imagine things, not contrary to the nature of the city, which would make omelas a more believable society with ore believable citizens. Statements such as "I incline to think that," and "I think that," make any statements made subjective in terms of the city and citizenry of Omelas.- Audience of Narrator The audience of the narrator is diverse as the narrator says that "certainly I cannot suit you all." They have trouble describing a happy man or celebrating joy as the people of Omelas do because we are they are heavily influenced by pedants and sophisticates who say that "happiness [is] rather stupid," and that "only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting." They praise despair and thereby condemn delight, the opposite of the people of Omelas. Because the narrator consistently says we referringto he/she and the audience, one...
tracking img