I found this short story to be very peculiar. I don’t understand the description of the people of the town Omelas. It seems to me that the author is an outsider. The author isnot from the town of Omelas but admires their way of life. I don’t understand the last two lines on page 1, ” They were not simple folk, you see, though they were happy. But we do not say the words of cheer much any more. All smiles have become archaic.”. The author is implying that “simple” minded people are happy people? On the top half of page 2 the author writes “The trouble is that we have a bad habit, encouraged by pedants and sophisticates, of considering happiness as something rather stupid. Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting. This is the treason of the artist: a refusal to admit the banality of evil and the terrible boredom of pain.” Who is the author referring to when he says “we”? And why do they associate happiness with stupidity?
On the top half of page 3 the author describes something incredibly puzzling to me, “…I fear that Omelas so far strikes some of you as goody-goody. Smiles, bells, parades, horses, bleh. If so, please add an orgy. If an orgy would help, don’t hesitate. Let us not, however, have temples from which issue beautiful nude priests and priestesses already half in ecstasy and ready to copulate with any man or woman, lover or stranger, who desires union with the deep godhead of the blood, although that was my first idea.” I am completely lost as to what the narrator is trying to express about the people of Omelas.
There is a very cruel and unusual twist at the end of this story. We discover that the people of Omelas keep a young child captured in an extremely small room. This child is treated inhumanely. At the bottom half of page 5 the narrator writes, “They all know it is there, all the people of Omelas. Some of them have come to see it, others are content merely to know it is there. They all know that it has to be there. Some of them understand why, and some do not, but 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 harvest and the kindly weathers of their skies, depend wholly on this child’s abominable misery.”
The narrator continually refers to the child as an it. I am extremely confused as to why the people of Omelas feel they must torture this child in order for their town to be happy. This entire short story spins my head in circles! I cannot wait to have a class discussion and further interpret this story. Hopefully someone will be able to shed some light to the purpose of this story.