The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas

Topics: Ursula K. Le Guin, The Wind's Twelve Quarters, United States Pages: 3 (1086 words) Published: November 12, 2010
Analysis of Fiction
Contemporary American culture is represented in “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” by Ursula K. Le Guin. Omelas is a Utopian city which inhabits citizens who are pleased and content with their lives. It is described as happy, full of freedom and joy. However, this privilege of life comes at a price. In order for the people of Omelas to live this way, a child must be kept stowed away in a dark closet. Miserable and left to wallow in it's own filth, the citizens are told or even bear witness to the child's agony. After being exposed to the child, most of the citizens carry on with their lives, employing the cause of the child's unfortunate place in their society. Nobody knows where they go, but some do silently walk away from Omelas. Does the story represent contemporary American culture? The evidence provided in this essay will show that there are many parallels to be drawn between Omelas and contemporary American culture.

Like American culture, Omelas lacks moral responsibility. The story examines moral responsibility by having the reader take part in the creation of Omelas. The reader is told to imagine Omelas, "Omelas sounds in my words like a city in a fairy tale, long ago and far away, once upon a time. Perhaps it would be best if you imagined it as your own fancy bids, assuming it will rise to the occasion, for certainly I cannot suit you all. (Le Guin 208)" the reader is eased into accepting Omelas and the horrible foundation on which it is founded. Like the citizens of Omelas, the readers moral responsibility is tested by sub-conscientiously accepting what they think Omelas is like. Le Guin uses the readers personal experiences to get the message across that Omelas is a representation of contemporary American culture. Along with American culture in general, Le Guin also uses Omelas to specifically exploit the system that governs the culture.

Omelas is symbolic of Americas political systems and oppression of lower social...

Cited: Le Guin, Ursula K. "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas." Literature; An
Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, And Writing. 6th ed. Eds.
Pearson/Longman, 2006. 208-12. Print
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