The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas By Ursula Le Guin

In the beginning of the story the author describing the city of Omelas as a utopia for the people who live there. On the first page the narrator describe the city festival of summer and how it bring joy to the people of the city. The people of the city like to live there. On the second page the narrator then tells the true color about the people who live there. The city was not a utopia but was a dystopia. The people “thought they were happy” (p1) but there were was not. The city is later describe a slum where people are disrespect to each other and everyone do want the want with no moral consequence.

On page 4 the narrator introduce a boy that lives in a small room in a basement. “A little light seeps in dustily between cracks in the boards, secondhand from a cobwebbed wind somewhere across the cellar” a room that the little boy live in. On page nine the narrator describe how people feel and react when they hear and see the boy in the basement cellar. People in the city goes around and do they daily active and pretend as if the boy does not exist. They leave the city and never return. It show that people feel so guilty and disgust about the way the treat the boy. By walking a way, they are equally responsible for the child miserable existence as those who remain in Omelas.

The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas

Paradise is the home to peace, prosperity, and happiness for its entire people. This style of living is the dream of many who wish to escape a life that includes suffering and hardship. There are those who would give up anything for a chance to live in paradise, but what is the right price for living in paradise?

I personally felt disgusted while reading this story and it was aimed more towards the people who cherished “the nobility of their architecture, the poignancy of their music, the profundity of their science” (p6).  All of this at the expense of a suffering child, with no friends, no family, no true home except for “a basement under one of the beautiful public buildings of Omelas, or perhaps in the cellar of one of its spacious private homes, there is a room. It has one locked door, and no window” (p4). Sure there is a common belief that the needs of the many outweigh the need of the one but what at what cost should this be taken literal. Here we have a child who has no determined gender, age, and no apparent memory of its condition. The people of Omelas know why this child lives in such a hell, “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” (p5). These people remain content at the scale of this exchange.

The ones who walk away from Omelas, I feel, are the just ones they know that paradise is not worth the lifelong suffering of a poor child. They would rather return back to the outside world and endure equal suffering than let a child suffer alone for one more day.

The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas

As we know the city of Omelas has a twist in maintaining their joy, their festivities, their delight and beauty. “Do you believe? Do you accept the festival, the city, the joy? No? Then let me describe one more thing?”(4). This statement to me, is the turn point, the twist to the story in itself. It is the “but” or “the catch” said when something is too good to be true. It’s saying, you don’t believe me in how perfect Omelas is? Well let me describe to you the unbelievable sacrifice that must me made in order to maintain such a status…you must believe me(kind of ironic, right?). A sacrifice that is in the form of a child; a bargain, Omelas delight in exchange for the misery of a child. “Those are the terms. To exchange all goodness and grace of every life in Omelas for that single, small improvement [in the life of the child]; to throw away happiness of thousands for the chance of happiness of one…the terms are strict and absolute”(6). I like the way Omelas beauty is summed up to be incredible, so incredible to be compared to the unbelievable state of a child, “the wretched one”(6). It’s a balance between opposites: pain for joy, one for thousands. “O miracle! but I wish I could describe it better. I wish I could convince you”(2). Omelas fate is being held by the neglect of a child; all of the pain Omelas would go through is in a way thrown onto this child. The child is symbolic Omelas’s pain.

Reading Response 5: The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas

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.


The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas

“The air of morning was so clear that the snow still crowning the Eighteen Peaks burned with white-gold fire across miles of sunlit air, under the dark blue of the sky.” (pg 1)

This story had some of the most vivid language I’ve ever seen. I was in complete awe of how descriptive it was. The sentence above was the first one that stood out to me and got me interested.

What I also found interesting was the reoccuring theme of happiness. You can find the word at least once on every page of the story. I didnt realize its significance until the child was introduced. That is when it is realized that everyone in the city of Omelas sacrifices the happiness of this one poor child to satisfy everyone else. They just continue living as if the child’s happiness is somehow beneath their own.

At the same time, it is evident that the tolerance for the child’s missey is developed. The young people that go to visit the child feel, “…anger, outrage, importence…” (pg 5) at the sight and treatment of the child. They want to help it but they do not know how. it takes them weeks and even sometimes years to finally accept it. “Their tears at the bitter injustice dry when they begin to percieve the terrible justice of reality, and to accept it.” The fact that they know the child is there and how it lives makes them value their own lives more. They dont take for granted their happiness.

Those that cannot accept the fate of the child end up leaving the city. Nobody knows where they go or how they end up. All that is known is that the knowlegde of the child and how it lives is enough to make them not want to be a part of a society that could do that.

Response to “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”

“The Ones who walk away from Omelas” is one of those stories that loses my attention after the very first page but automatically regains it during the last half of the story. Basically, the narrator is talking about the happiness and prosperites of the citizens of Omelas. The people there are happy and are living life as cheerful as they can be. It is at this point where I was starting to lose interest and felt bored because of a lack of conflict. I was starting to tell myself, “where is the plot in this story?” Then as if my question was answered, I got my wish.

About half-way into the story, the middle of page 4 to be exact, I was introduced to a child who has a miserable life. After learning that this child spends it’s life in a small, dark room, never to be let out, did i felt bad. I felt more upset when I read that the people of Omelas only prospers on the child’s misery. It is so upsetting to know that many people’s pleasure come from one person’s pain, and things only get worse from there.

Apparently, some people who see the child, disappears into the night, never to be seen again. This seems more upsetting to me than the locked up child, because the narrator never actually says where those people go but end the story by quoting the title of the book, “the ones who walk away from Omelas”.

This story has managed to grab my attention greatly after losing it, which is a good thing. However, I was sort of curious as to where those that leave Omelas go to. That can leave a window of guesses and sequels for others to decide, and I think thats what the author was trying to do. To make the readers think and decide on a proper ending. I also feel sorry for the child who was mistreated like that. No one should be imprisoned so others can be happy.