Category Archives: The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas

Underneath the City of Omelas

“The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” by Ursla Le Guin is a very eye opening and awakening piece that mirrors our very own society and the underlying issues suppressed for the sake of our lifestyles. I actually read this piece in my previous English class and remembered how immediately I compared “Omelas” to the United States when the city is described as “bright-towered by the sea”, (Le Guin 1). The city of Omelas seems to be a complete utopia as the reader is given vivid imagery of how “joyous” and nearly perfect Omelas is, with “a cheerful sweetness of the air that from time to time trembled and gathered together and broke out into the great joyous clanging of the bells”, (Le Guin 1). Similar to us modern day American citizens, the people of Omelas “were not a simple folk”, (Le Guin 2). Le Guin stresses multiple times in the story that though these people had very few laws and “did without monarchy, slavery… the stock exchange, the advertisement, the secret police and the bomb”, (Le Guin 2), they were not simple folk; they were not “dulcet shepherds… bland utopians”. Le Guin also  gives off the impression that Omelas is a magical golden city, and then takes it back by recommending the reader “add an orgy”, (Le Guin 3), in efforts to help us taint the perfect image we’ve conjured in our heads as we imagine Omelas.

Like a well oiled machine, the city of Omelas and its happy citizens thrive and survive because of the suffering and brutal neglect of a nameless child described by Le Guin from page 4 to 5. This poor child and his/ her suffering is the very fuel to the livelihood and happiness of the people of Omelas, and these terms were “strict and absolute” or “all the prosperity and beauty and delight of Omelas would wither and be destroyed”, (Le Guin 5). The most shocking part of it all is that the people of Omelas were completely aware of this child living beneath them! Some were “outraged” and “disgusted” as described on Le Guin 5, while others felt helpless in knowing the essence of the child’s pain to their lives. A reader can interpret the child’s anguish and suffering as a symbol of America’s middle working class, or Laborers who dedicate themselves to working and serving as pillars to support the upper class. This dystopian society created by Le Guin is in fact painted as a Utopian world to represent the hidden reality of what keeps us up and running. Everything from the clothes we wear to the food we eat, most sourced and created by under compensated workers in poor work conditions. The happiness of these citizens of Omelas depended wholly on this child’s tormented life beneath the beautiful streets of the city.

I really enjoy how Le Guin leaves us space to infer on our own and conclude with several possible connections and messages with our own interpretations. She paints such a vibrant and realistic image of a seemingly perfect city and then flips the mood to show the inner workings of how such a happiness and lifestyle could be possible. While a child is living in complete squalor under absolute gruesome conditions, the city of Omelas still shines by the sea while the happiness in the air radiates and warmth seeps through the cracks in the boards on the window of that basement.

The Secret Behind The Land of The Dreams

This story written by Ursula Le Guin is honestly an interest story but I have to confess it was super boring at the beginning. The part that caught my attention was going on to the second page in line 18,  where the narrator says, ” I wish I could convince you. Omelas sounds in my words like a city in a fairy tale , long ago and far away, once upon a time.” The city is being described as somewhere where you would like to live in, a made up place that you will be completely content being in. It brings on heavy imagery when someone describes a place like that. At least to me, I used to watch the show Once Upon A Time. Anyways, still in the second page a little further down in page 23, the narrator says, ” The people of Omelas are happy people.”  . What does that truly mean? To be happy, that the people from this place are happy people. The definition of happiness is then described using the different social classes, and for a second it is true.  The less material things that you may have the happier you can be. It is like a saying that I have heard before that goes like, ” The more money you have, the more problems that come along with it.”.

The narrator makes the city of Omelas look like its a great place, it is placed on a pedestal. In page three, from line 13 to 19 it is said that the people of Omelas have no guilt, they do drugs if they want to and they are not ashamed by it.  It is like everything in that place is too good to be true. That there are drugs called “drooz” that makes you feel high and gives you  some sort of relaxation but also causing visions and enhancing sexual experiences. The narrator also goes into beer and alcohol but it is not looked upon heavily like they would in any other place.  It is like they all celebrate something, that there is something to be happy about.

That happiness ends in Page four, third paragraph. We as readers get exposed to this little room with a broom and a mop and a bucket and….. a kid.

A ten year old kid who is suffering, malnutritioned, unhealthy, naked, sitting on the floor on its own feces. That is sad. That is something that should never be done to a kid, no matter how young they are and no matter what they have done. That is not just child abuse but cruelty. The thing that upsets me more was that people go, just to watch him or her. They couldn’t even give it a gender. As if it were an inanimate object, or something that did not matter.

Everyone in that city knows about the kid, They are not allowed to take the kid out, or to say any nice things. They showcase this kid and this is what keeps the “beautiful city of Omelas” in peace and happy. It is supposedly what keeps the people from feeling guilty.  Having someone , they apparently do not care if it is a child who is innocent. And no one even knows why the child is there. Like, why is the kid receiving such harsh punishment for everyone else’s happiness.

The city lurking behind the city

The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas  by Ursula Le Guin is a great story, perhaps it is one of the best stories I’ve read in a while. The setting is in a place called Omelas, where everything seems to be perfect, where all the people there are happy, their children are safe and healthy, there seems to be no war or famine, however, it only appears so to the unaware eye. “One of them may come in and kick the child to make it stand up. The others never come close, but peer in at it with frightened, disgusted eyes” ( Ursula, 5). This is a glimpse into the horror a child has to go through, for Omelas to be this not so perfect place where people are living great and joyous lives.

The city of Omelas can be seen as a symbolic place, a place that reminds its inhabitants that everything has a cost. The beautiful landscapes, the houses, the joy and contentment in everyone’s lives, is nothing else but the fruit of a child’s suffering. ” 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” ( Ursula, 5 ). The previous quote tells us the people who live in the city all know about the child in the closet, there is no forgetting about it, everything that is beautiful around them is a reminder of their disregard of the child’s wellbeing.

The inhabitants of the city are all aware of the reason why everything is so wonderful, but not all of them bother to think about much. Most people in the city just keep going about their day they dedicate a great deal of energy and effort into keeping their minds busy. The others are not capable of doing the same, they often go pay the child a visit, visits that end up becoming the last push they needed to be convinced of leaving that wicked and perverted city. ” They go on. They leave Omelas, they walk ahead into the darkness, and they do not come back” ( Ursula, 7 ).  In this quote, some of the people who were living in the city, were so horrified by the things people allowed to continue happening, the only solution they deemed viable, was to just walk out and away from the  city. The people who left the city can be said to have felt guilt, a feeling that goes in direct opposition to the narrators previous statement, “One thing I know there is none of in Omelas is guilt” ( Ursula, 3 ). In is quote, the narrator states that Omelas is a perfect city, therefore there is no guilt in Omelas, but from a readers point of view, the people who left the city left because they could not handle the immense amount of guilt that they felt while living in such a place.

The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas

The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas by Ursula Le Guin is a short story that shares a view on an ideal society and the narrators revelation of the secret behind this perfect world. The narrator shows us in this quote the beauty of Omelas and its people, “The rigging of the boats in harbor sparkled with flags. In the streets between houses with red roofs and painted walls, between old moss-grown gardens and under avenues of trees, past great parks and public buildings, processions moved.” (Le Guin, page 1 paragraph 1) and “In other streets the music beat faster, a shimmering of gong and tambourine, and the people went dancing, the procession was a dance. Children dodged in and out, their high calls rising like the swallows’ crossing flights over the music and the singing.” (Le Guin, page 1 paragraph 1). The narrator uses imagery for the reader to understand how beautiful Omelas is to the citizens of the wonderful city, red roofs and painted walls, moss-grown gardens, a shimmering or gong and tambourine. This allows us to see Omelas alive and wanting to visit this place.

However, behind this utopia of society there is a dirty secret to why the city is prosperous. In the text, we have the narrator instructs us where to go to discover the truth behind this ideal society, this perverse utopia that continues without any care for the price. The location for this truth is in a basement under a beautiful public building, (Le Guin, page 4, paragraph 4) one of the many buildings in Omelas or in a cellar of one of many spacious private homes (Le Guin, page 4, paragraph 4). In this space under a building lies the reason for the city of Omelas success, trapped in a room filled with cleaning supplies lies a child of about ten years old. This child isn’t even able to be identified as male or female because it has become imbecile through fear, malnutrition, and neglect (Le Guin, page 4, paragraph 4). We don’t know how he/she has stayed alive all these years, the narrator describes it as so, “It is so thin there are no calves to its legs; its belly protrudes; it lives on a half-bowl of corn meal and grease a day. It is naked. Its buttocks and thighs are a mass of festered sores, as it sits in its own excrement continually.” (Le Guin, page 5, paragraph 1). This child barely given any resources to stay alive, and the worst part about this is that the society, 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. (Le Guin, page 5, paragraph 2) and they know, the people of Omelas, that their livelihood depends wholly on this child’s abominable misery (Le Guin, page 5, paragraph 2).

All in all, at least the city of Omelas has some citizens that will not stand to live on their entire lives on the misery of any one human. The narrator shows us the resolve of some of the people of Omelas, “They keep walking, and walk straight out of the city of Omelas, through the beautiful gates. They keep walking across the farmlands of Omelas. Each one goes alone, youth or girl, man or woman.” (Le Guin, page 7, paragraph 1). At the end of the story we have a revelation that some citizens will not stomach this form of utopia anymore and they leave the city of Omelas walking into the darkness and never turn back, even thou in any society there will always be humans that are repressed and treated as trash and inhumane for the sake of a better life for those with power. This will never change, so was the alternative better? Having one person suffering or an entire city, state, country or nation suffering together?

How Would Your Utopia Look Like ?

The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas by Ursula Le Guin is a story about a paradise called Omelas. Now this paradise is pretty much whatever you think it is, the narrator is explaining the story from a omniscient point of view as it dwells in the minds of the inhabitants of Omela and their curse that the residents must live through or leave. I believe the that in the city of “Omelas” one must either face it’s horror and live happy or leave and find peace with themselves in a place that is not paradise. The author really hammers away with describing Omelas. In the story the narrator states ” Omelas sounds in my words like a city in a fairy tale, long ago and far away, once upon a time.”(Guin, 2). This quote to me describes how wonderful Omelas is because that is what a fairy tale is to me, something wonderful. Yet it can also be viewed as how Omelas isn’t real because that is all a fairy tale is, just a make believe story. What makes this more of a fairy tale is how the narrator continues to say so many nice things about Omelas and how he/she wishes to continue making it more of a paradise, so much that it asks “What else, what else belongs in the joyous city?”(Guin, 3). The narrator even told the readers to add an orgy if it helped make it more of a paradise. This to me speaks to the notion that this is a fairy tale.

Though it is a fairy tale the reality of the paradise is very dark. There is a child who is held in a broom closet in the cellar starving and decaying bother mentally and physically. The curse of Omelas is 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 misery.”(Guin, 5). The paradise can only exist if the one child suffers in complete misery and the reality is that the residents have to live with the thought of knowing that a child must suffer to make their paradise a possibility, or do they have to live with it at all ?

In the story the narrator explained that people go see this little boy with eyes of hate and disgust. Though they were not eyes of disgust and hate towards the kid but towards Omelas. How could they not hate the fact that a child must suffer for them to be happy, i know i would hate that. At times some of these people do not go home at all.  “These people go out into the street.  and walk down the street alone. they keep walking, and walk straight out of the city of Omelas, through the beautiful gate.” The narrator never explained why these people never went back home and walked out of the city of Omelas. It can only be inferred and what is inferred is that the people left because the paradise they knew was nothing but a fairy tale. Maybe to these people Omelas was not a paradise for they too, were not free. Perhaps they were not free because they can not freely enjoy this paradise with the thought of this poor child who’s misery is paying for their happiness. Perhaps that is why they left, because this was no fairy tale to them so they must go out and find what makes them happy.

A Not So Utopia

In The One who Walks Away from Omelas by Ursula K. Le Guin we quickly learn of  a place in which everyone live a happy life but with a catch. As soon you start reading the story you see this happy  city “They were not simple folk, you see, though they were happy. ” (Page 1 Paragraph 2) They had celebrations in the streets. But as soon you start believing that there was a true utopia you learn of the sick catch “Do you believe? Do you accept the festival, the city, the joy? No? Then let me describe one more thing.”(Page 3 Paragraph 2) To have this beautiful utopia there has to be child who has to live in this room under the beautiful buildings, a room with no windows  and a dirty floor. this liitle kid who looks like 6 but actually is 10 gets harssaed and beaten by the people of Omelas (One of them may come and kick the child to make it stand up.) (Page 3 Paragraph 3) It is only the few brave and smart ones who leave Omelas the city of happiness to the unknown ( But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas.) (Page 4 Paragraph 3)

This story makes us ask the fundamental question of how much we are wiling to overlook for happiness. Are we willing to let others suffer to live in a city of happiness. This story makes you think is the suffering of one kid worth the happiness of a whole city. In my mind this is an acceptable return but as you see there people who live there young and old leave the city and never return

a false home

Omelas is a utopian society near a shimmering beautiful sea. A utopia is a society in which everything is perfect or made perfect for its citizens. The way the story opens up it seems as though it would be a happy toned one. The people of Omelas are celebrating a summer festival which involves games and horse riding. Even the horses were portrayed as happy, “The horses wore no gear at all but a halter without a bit. Their
manes were braided with streamers of silver, gold, and green. They flared their nostrils
and pranced and boasted to one another; they were vastly excited, the horse being the
only animal who has adopted our ceremonies as his own.”(Paragraph 1). But, it was no happy place at all. There was misery hidden under this “happiness” in which their society believed in, There is a child locked and forced to live in a cage in its own filth. “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.
This is usually explained to children when they are between eight and twelve, whenever
they seem capable of understanding; and most of those who come to see the child is
young people, though often enough an adult comes, or comes back, to see the child. No
matter how well the matter has been explained to them, these young spectators are
always shocked and sickened at the sight. They feel disgust, which they had thought
themselves superior to. They feel anger, outrage, impotence, despite all the
explanations” ( Page 5 ) I feel as though the child’s suffering is some sort of lesson for the people in this society, to show how precious happiness can be and limited. It also shows how awful their justice system was, this child is in a cage showed citizens the true meaning of unhappiness, horrified to the point where some never returned. Happiness in their society could not have existed without this child’s misery. Omelas was nowhere near perfect which is the opposite of what a utopia is imagined to be.

Utopia at a cost

In “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”, Ursula Le Guin describes a Utopian society that exists with a price.

The short story is written in first-person, in the style of the narrator “communicating” towards the reader. The story does not have a plot, as it does not have a protagonist or antagonist, nor does it have a story line. Instead, Le Guin describes a setting with vague details, and the circumstances of how it exists. The narrator describes a city in the middle of a festival, and the citizens “were mature, intelligent, passionate adults whose lives were not wretched” (Le Guin, 2). However, the narrator does not give a definite description of the society itself. The narrator gives a utopian description, and then retracts it, and says that the city has qualities like the provided description. For example: “they could perfectly well have central heating, subway trains, washing machines, and all kinds of marvelous devices not yet invented here, floating light-sources, fuelless power, a cure for the common cold. Or they could have none of that; it doesn’t matter” (Le Guin, 3).

Later in the short story, it is revealed that there is a neglected child locked in a room in a basement: “In 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…In the room a child is sitting. It could be a boy or a girl. It looks about six, but actually is nearly ten. It is feeble-minded. Perhaps it was born defective, or perhaps it has become imbecile through fear, malnutrition, and neglect” (Le Guin, 4). It is also revealed that the utopia can only exist because of the misery of that same small child locked in the basement: “If the child were brought up into the sunlight out of that vile place, if it were cleaned and fed and comforted, that would be a good thing indeed; but if it were done, in that day and hour all the prosperity and beauty and delight of Omelas would wither and be destroyed. Those are the terms” (Le Guin, 5-6). The citizens living in Omelas must accept this fact, and those who don’t leave the city.

I believe the story is meant to be taken as an allegory, and is meant to be applied to several situations in real life. I see the story as an allegory of the various “contracts” or “trade-offs” we experience in life. We sacrifice one thing so we can enjoy another thing, and we have to decide ourselves if the sacrifice, or trade-off, is worth the outcome.

I personally did not like the way the author provides descriptions in the short story. The author gives half-descriptions and then retracts them, and I feel as if the descriptions have no point to the story. The author could have cut the story well short, without giving meaningless descriptors. I also could not suspend my disbelief of the author’s description of the citizens having “complex lives” in the utopia if everything in their lives is well taken care of and they have nothing to worry about. The author has shown to have disdain towards pain and suffering (Le Guin, 3), when both are facts of life, and people need to experience both for intellectual and spiritual growth.

Joyous..my…yeah right!

The story The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas, by Ursula Le Guin surprised me a lot. The way it started with the town’s people having a parade  with “a clamor of bells that set the swallows soaring ” (Guin, page 1).  One would think that the town had over come something or won something for such a occasion. Even the narrator said that “Given the description such as this one tends to look next for the King, mounted on a splendid stallion and surrounded by his noble knights, or perhaps in a golden litter borne by great-muscled slaves” (Guin, page 2).

When I continue to read farther along the narrator begins to describe the people of Omelas by describing their happiness and  how they were not simple minded people just because they were happy. I assume that the narrator wanted the reader to understand that the people of Omelas were not blissfully ignorant. This was made clear when the narrator said “They were not simple folk, you see, though they were happy” (Guin, page 1) and again the narrator stated “Yet I repeat that these were not simple folk, not dulcet shepherds, noble savages, bland utopians”……”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 is interesting” (Guin, page 2).

When you read on You realized that on that day of the parade. There are people who are wearing festive clothing and some who are not. There is even a horse race that is going to happen and festive music is being played.  How all of the people in the parade is headed towards the “Green Fields” (Guin, page 3).

Then in the story the narrator takes you to this “basement under one of the beautiful public buildings of Omelas, or perhaps in the cellar one of its spacious private homes, there is a room”. (Guin, page 4). Narrator describes how it has a “locked door, and no window” (Guin, page 4) there is this child that is “feeble-minded” (Guin, page 4). The child is describe as dirty and sitting on the floor.  The Narrator speaks as if the sex of the child and sometimes calling it a “child” did not matter.  It feels as if the narrator at times take the humanity of the child away especially when the narrator said “It picks its nose and occasionally fumbles vaguely with its toes or genitals, as it sits hunched in the corner farthest from the bucket” (Guin, page 4).

While I was reading I began to understand that the town’s people  was celebrating their happiness and was able to enjoy their happiness because they were not “simple folk” and “only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting” (Guin, page 2). I wonder did the narrator said this to have the reader understand how the people in that town see happiness? That their happiness would cease to exist if that this one child have a chance at happiness?

By reading this, I placed myself in that community and I seriously asked myself if i knew that my happiness was the cause of some kid being locked up in the basement being abuse and is shown no love at all? Would I have been apart of that parade?  My answer was “No” I would like to say that I too would have been part of “the ones who walk away from Omelas” (Guin, page 7) the end.

 

 

The Ones Who Walk From Omelas

In “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” By Ursula Le Guin, the narrator seeks to describe the citizens of Omelas and for us as readers to accept the people of Omelas. In the middle of the short story, “Do you accept the festival, the city, the joy?” (Guin,3) suggests that the narrator stresses the justification of the way in which the people of Omelas maintains happiness. This is because the majority of the story explains why one should accept the happiness of the city of Omelas. For example, in the basement of one of the most attractive buildings in Omelas “There is a child, about six, and is feeble-minded” and feeling so closed in and away from the rest of the world once and a while yells out “I will be good, please let me out!” (Guin,3). In other words, there is a young child who has some type of mental issue and is being kept in a specific place day and night, and the child’s main motive is to get out. The city of Omelas all as one “understand that their happiness, beauty of their city, tenderness of friendships, the wisdom of their scholars depend wholly on this child’s abominable misery”(Guin,3). This means that in order for the people of Omelas to maintain happiness and the ability for the city to continue advancing their society this child has to be in the location in which it is in, and the circumstances in which it is in at all times. Though this seems such an unjustified situation considering “the young people go home in tears when they have seen the child and faced this terrible paradox” they eventually tend to realize that “even if the child could be released, it would not get much good of its freedom” because “it has been afraid too long ever to be free of fear” (Guin,4). Although the young children of Omelas are truly devastated from the vivid image of the child’s suffer, they come to the acceptance that things will not get any better even if the child could possibly be free because it has been so used to the darkness that even if the child saw light, it would not know what to do with it or how to re-adapt. The narrator goes on to further justify the situation in Omelas by describing that “to exchange all the goodness and grace of every life in Omelas for that single, small improvement would be to let guilt within the walls indeed” (Guin,4). For the exchange of all the good outcomes that come from this to free that one person would be to “let guilt within the walls indeed” because if the people surprisingly decided to risk all their happiness and positivity that comes to the citizens to free the child their guilt will only get worst considering their close and loved ones will be directly affected by this causing the situation to only get worst which is the point the narrator is trying to explain. Though expected for the citizens of Omelas to come to a hundred percent acceptance in order to keep their family happy, it seems as though the city of Omelas is after all not happy because sometimes after the people go see the situation the child is in, “each alone, they leave towards the mountains, they leave Omelas and never come back” and they head toward a place in which “it is possible that it does not exist”. One can infer that the devastation from the child’s circumstances caused the people of Omelas to never truly have happiness because their happiness depends on the suffrage of one child who desperately wants to be as “happy” as others are.  The Narrator, who only has knowledge about the utopian society have no idea where the citizens of Omelas with guilt actually go.