Vonnegut and Le Guin’s short stories about proposed utopian lifestyles are drastically different ideas of the perfect modern day “utopia”. These stories represent how two people may have contrasting ideas of the corruption that would be involved in a perfect world and lead us to question our own opinions of what part of ourselves we would be willing to give up. Kurt Vonnegut’s “2 B R 0 2 B” is a darker depiction of the human cost of living in a utopian civilization because of the idea of having daily actions controlled by a higher power. However, both of these stories explain a civilized world that the people perceive as perfection but contain many instances, such as sacrifice and inhumanity, that actually make them dystopian societies.
“The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” by Ursula Le Guin is a short story about a utopian community that survives on the sacrifice of one individual. Le Guin begins the story with a description of the summer festival and the people who are enjoying it. The scene is almost too happy but the people are “complex” suggesting there is something they are hiding. The town is perfection to the people and they enjoy any luxury they could imagine. There is no mention of a government or laws but there is a child they keep in a dark room under the city that the people are dependent on to remain a utopia. This child stands as a symbol of guilt that teaches the people to be grateful for the freedom and happiness that they have, and over time they learn to live with their guilt. Nobody even imagines trying to set the child free which shows that they comply with the rules of the society through a sense of fear. There is the option to leave the city but most people ...
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...in Omelas and also people that abide by the government understand the necessary sacrifices that would truly create a “utopia”. Both of the cities are “looking out for the citizens” but in turn doing more harm than good to humanity because of the way their people are living in acceptance.
When comparing the two societies they both contain themes of sacrifice, commitment, and fear that have the power to make the people content with the disturbed civilization. The themes diverge when it comes to focusing on death and happiness. However, the darker story is by far Vonnegut’s “2BR02B” because of the level of governmental corruption and complete hierarchical control that individuals have come to accept. Both of these stories bring back to mind the harsh reality of trying to achieve a truly perfect world because in order to seem perfect there will be underlying corruption.
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