"The ones who walked away from Omelas"

Topics: Ursula K. Le Guin, Homosexuality, Human rights Pages: 4 (1419 words) Published: December 5, 2013
“The Ones Who Walked Away From Omelas” by Ursula Le Guin In the short story, “The Ones Who Walked Away From Omelas”, by Ursula Le Guin, the author tells the story of the beautiful and happy city of Omelas. Everything and everyone in Omelas seems to prosper, making Omelas seem like a perfect city and Utopian society. However hidden deep down in the darkness somewhere beneath the city of Omelas is the city’s secret, a young child is kept there, starving, tortured, forbidden of any happiness, and never to see the light of day. In order for this so called “perfect city” to exist, this child must live in endless misery and woe. In Le Guin’s writing of this story, she explores various binary oppositions, toleration, and the topic and use of a scapegoat, in order to create a metaphor of social injustice, discrimination, and human rights violations, which occur all around us today. The people of Omelas justify the misery and torture of the one child, “they all understand that their happiness, the beauty of their city, the tenderness of their friendships, the health of their children, the wisdom of their scholars, the skill of their makers, even the abundance of their harvests and the kindly weather of their skies, depend wholly on this child’s abominable misery” (Le Guin, 5). They believe that it is a necessary evil that must exist in order for them to live their luxurious and beautiful lives. Their toleration turns from ignorance to unlawful neglect. Jovan Babic critics this point of view in his journal on ethics and his critique of the topic of toleration, “Tolerance involves absorbing the attitude that others may have and act upon a definition of “the Good” which is different from our own.” (227). According to Jovan Babic’s definition of tolerance, the people of Omelas do not possess true toleration with regards to the misery of the young child, but what do they possess? Jovan Babic answers this question as well, “it is quite easy to substitute for genuine toleration...
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