Utopian Societies in The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas and The Lottery
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1850 words (5.3 double-spaced pages)
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The Utopian Societies in the Short Stories “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas,” by Ursula K. Le Guin, and “The Lottery,” by Shirley Jackson
The accounts of utopian societies in the short stories “The Ones Who Walk Away from
Omelas,” by Ursula K. Le Guin, and “The Lottery,” by Shirley Jackson have shocking twists as
the reader learns that there is a high price to pay for their apparent happiness. These societies
seem perfect on the surface; however, as we understand more about its citizens and their
traditions, we learn that utopia is exactly what its definition suggests: impossible. The sacrifice
made by these communities in order to keep their society perfectly happy turns out to be
fruitless. Their ideas of how society should function are doomed to fail, because people are
inherently prone to selfishness and often engage in evil. This, paradoxically, condemns them
In “The Lottery,” the town’s people held an annual lottery in which all of the citizens
participated. The twist is that its winner would ultimately be stoned to death. Old Man Warner
believed this tradition guaranteed good crops for the year and, therefore, food and longevity for
the rest of the town’s people. The majority of the people, however, did not know the purpose of
this tradition and simply conformed to it. There were no attempts to change the situation, and the
town’s people eagerly participated in it – even if in the process they were hurting their friends
and family. In “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas,” the happiness of the people in town is
never abundant even though they live in a society that thrives. The people act happy; however,
they are aware that this happiness is dependent on the abu...
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...strongest instinct is self-preservation. Ultimately, their families and friends cease to matter and
these relationshipsbecome meaningless to them. Human beings without meaningful relationships
cannot be happy. If the people are not happy, then they do not live in a utopian society. Their
utopia falls apart andgives way to a tragedy of humanity. The sacrifices in the lottery in the
village and of the child in Omelas are pointless. Everyone loses.
Jackson, Shirley. “The Lottery.”Ed. John Schilb and John Clifford.Making Literature Matter:
An Anthology for Readers and Writers. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2009. 837-44. Print.
Le Guin, Ursula K. “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas.” Ed. John Schilb and John
Clifford. Making Literature Matter: An Anthology for Readers and Writers.Boston:
Bedford/St. Martins, 2009.1508-511. Print.
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