English Comp & Lit
February 18, 2013
The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas
Those citizens who elect to remain in Omelas do so at a profound cost, and are reminded of their guiltless deal with the Devil each time they visit the child locked in the damp, dark cellar. Conversely, each person who walks away from Omelas gains an inner strength; they have rejected that contract, and therefore, have retained their soul. However, they forever exile themselves from the superficial, blameless utopia that is Omelas. On page 255, we learn that the town’s collective secret to happiness, prosperity and well-being is locked in a cellar, as well as the long unused tools to clean it out -- as evidenced by the mops and bucket. The child is long neglected, and must remain so, in order that the town continue its feelings of “boundless and generous contentment, a magnanimous triumph felt in communion with the finest and fairest in the souls of all men everywhere (255) . . . a symbolic delusion. The lock on the cellar door makes any escape impossible, though the reader is never told who holds the key. Citizen visits are mandatory, a symbolic reminder to the town folk of their deal, never to forget what they traded for their idyllic way of life.
Outwardly, Omelas is preparing for a celebration, the Summer Festival, a raucous time to be had by all. The quiet, merry women carry babies, chatting all the while; as well as the people dancing with gong and tambourine (253) represent the folly of youth who, as yet, have not realized the enormity of the situation. And, yet, among the procession, the reader may notice old people in long, stiff robes of mauve and grey and grave master workmen (253), signifying the day of reckoning drawing near, and knowledge.
Upon reaching the Green Field, the visualization of color includes the horses’ manes braided with streamers of silver, gold and green (253), which may embody wealth, happiness and fertile growth. Omelas appears...