29 April 2013
Why the Child?
In “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”, symbolism is used throughout the entire story. The author, Ursula K. Le Guin, creates some complex symbols in the city of Omelas itself, the ones who walk away, the child in the basement, the child who never stops playing the flute, and the ones who stay in Omelas. By depicting a seemingly utopian society, LeGuin is commenting on the fact that no society is perfect, and in fact, someone always must suffer for the happiness of others.
The city of Omelas is the setting of the story, and has great significance to the people and ideas around it. The city itself represents how people in modern society want to live in this utopia where everyone is happy, joyous, and carefree. The people of Omelas have these qualities: “How can I tell you about the people of Omelas? They were not naïve and happy children- though their children were happy. They were mature, intelligent, passionate adults whose lives were not wretched. O miracle! but I wish I could describe it better” (209). The people that live in Omelas felt that it was good to be happy in a city where anything is possible. The point of a utopia is that everyone that lives in it has a perfect life and is capable to fulfill it.
Even though it is a utopian society there will always be one person who is not as happy as everyone else there. The child in the basement is this person. In Omelas, they sacrifice the happiness of one child to suffering so that the rest of the city can obtain happiness. The child is a representation of being poor and shows misery. The people of Omelas lock the child in a basement, representing a prison for the child and the idea of him being homeless with no one to turn to. The happiness of the city depends on the child’s grief: “Some of them understand why, and some don’t, but they all understand that their happiness, the beauty of their city, the tenderness of their...