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The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas
"Perhaps it would be best if you imagined it as your fancy bids, assuming it will rise to the occasion, for certainly I cannot suit you all." This is an open invitation for you, the reader, in the short story "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas." Ursula K. Le Guin is simply inviting you to become her main character. How might you accept or deny this malicious request? It is quite simple, really. To accept it is to read on, and to deny it is to disembark in the endeavor. The city of joy, your own Omelas, is developing continuously in your head. How sweet it is. The image of the bay surrounded by the mountains with Ursula's white-gold fire enchanting the air. Oh, and one cannot forget the tantalizing orgy custom fit to your most personal delights. Can you even begin to imagine the mere possibility of an association between religion and sexual pleasure without the possible deviance of human authority? It all seems nearly ovenvhelming. The fascination continues with every moment of lustful anticipation. One cannot deny their own perversion long enough to stop engaging in a plot that might encourage it. But there is a catch of course, for there is always a catch. This particular one is quite deviant really, for this city is a complete deception. It is a place of lamentation and punishment. It is a prison that simply provokes the archaic smiles described within the sentences. How best can one describe the goal of such a story? I believe I shall attempt to do so by describing the main character, you of course! You are presented with three stages and then you are given three questions. In the end, it will be your duty to determine the final event.
Create-a-meal, no my friend, instead you are given the tools to create-a-setting. You are presented with brilliant horses and jubilant music, bright colors and beautiful scenery, a blissful introduction, indeed. Shockingly enough, in the second paragraph it is quickly taken away from you. A dagger penetrates your balloon image. You are told that the smiles and happiness of the city are not genuine. Ursula K.
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The second part ofthe story involves a fantastic circumstance. You are forced fed the image of a starving, suffering, and begging chiid. You are told that this child is kept in a small room filled with its own excretions. You are told that the entire city knows of the child and does nothing to help it. As your stomach fills with butterflies and your head fills with images of your brother or of your sister, or maybe your niece or nephew, festered and scared, your mind contemplates any possible reason for the inhumane behavior of these people. You are then told that the child's misery insures the happiness and prosperity of the entire city. Here you are presented with the antagonist of the story. Suddenly you realize that the antagonist is you. This is presented to you through the main conflict in the story. The conflict, is man verses himself or in this case you verse yourself.
Finally you arrive at the closing of the story. You are given a way out of the prison of Omelas. You are told that there are those who see the child and chose to walk away from Omelas. They chose to walk away from everything within it. You are not promised happiness or freedom. In fact you are told that you must walk away alone into the darkness. You are only presented with one grain ofhope. You are told that the ones who do walk away from Omelas look as if they know right where they are going. The story does not end there. Of course not, you must write your own ending. Do you stay in the city ofjoy or do you accept the challenge of human dignity and walk away? Will you throw away the happiness of thousands for the chance of the happiness of one? That is the main intent of this work. Ursula K. Le Guin is simply throwing her question on to you.