"The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas": Examining the Human Condition

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In "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" author Ursula K. Le Guin uses the utopian society of Omelas to symbolically highlight the ugly and unsavory state of the human condition. The stories unidentified narrator paints a colorful picture of Omelas and ironically describes its residents as happy, joyous and not at all barbaric. Although Le Guin describes Omelas as a delightful even whimsical place that affords its citizens “…happiness, the beauty of their city, the tenderness of their friendships, the health of the of their children, the wisdom of their scholars, the skill of their makers, even the abundance of their harvest and the kindly weather of their skies”; we come to discover just the opposite (5). At its core we find a self-indulgent and horrid community distractingly veiled by beautiful landscape, the music and prancing horses at festivals and children playing. The author cleverly draws the reader into Omelas’ city limits then abruptly exposes them to the widely known atrocity that is the abused and malnourished child beneath. Le Guins’ skillful exposition of Omelas and its residents is an excellent illustration of mankind’s abandonment of morality and human compassion of mankind in exchange for the unrelenting pursuit of happiness.

As the reader becomes ensnared in the thematic web of this “joyous” society the narrator even invites them to participate in its evolution and asks “What else, what else belongs in the joyous city?” all while cunningly attempting to make them complicit with the cities dubious acts (3). Driven by personal happiness an d devoid of morals and values the residents’ willingness to inhumanely sacrifice the life of an innocent child simply to fulfill their own selfish desires of freedom, p...

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...nt to maintain the luxury and comfort of the masses and the other that escapes the city in pursuit of their own happiness. Throughout this compelling journey the author aptly illuminates the struggle between choosing what is morally and ethically right and pursing personal happiness. Consequently, the reader may believe that Le Guin is initially inviting them to join her on this journey to take a peek at the “happy and joyous” people of Omelas and even engage in judgment of their character and choices, they soon come to realize however; that what they may really be looking at is their own reflection.

Works Cited

Le Guin, Ursula K. "Those Who Walk Away From Omelas" The Wind's Twelve Quarters. nd. Web.

14 June 2010. .
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