Tag Archives: Ita

The Moral Dilemma Behind Happiness In Omelas

In Ursula Le Guin’s, The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas, we see a paradoxical dichotomy presented that questions our morals. It asks us to question something that may work well in theory but perhaps not as well in real life. It asks us about the whole over the part and whether this is a good model for society. Is the city of Omelas a true utopia? This is the overall question presented to us. Utopia’s are imaginary, idealistic, and often times impractical worlds, the city of Omelas being a perfect example for this. Omelas is an impractical utopia, everyone is deserving and worthy of a good life, humanity is not something to be decided upon.

The child is dehumanized throughout the story by referred to as “it”. In this post I will be using the words they/them/their (singular) in effort to bring my point of the worth of the child’s humanity across.

The model for Omelas is inherently flawed. It would be different perhaps, if the child wasn’t a child, or if the child had spent it’s whole life not knowing much else. However, this is a child who was once part of the exterior world “the child, […] has not always lived in the tool room.” A tragic hero, they have fallen from their status of normalcy to being slave to a societies need for happiness.  This is not an adult who understands sacrifices and can willingly accept and take on the responsibility of an entire populations happiness; this is child, they do not know about commitment or the need of greater good, the child is living a miserable life against their will. Which brings up the question, are the people in Omelas subject to an Ella Enchanted like curse where their feelings are redundant? Do they assure themselves that the child is fine? Are they also subject to a logic of “it can always be worse”? If that is what happens, the truth is things can always be much worse, but our measure for progress shouldn’t be be, “how much worse can things get?” but “how much better can things be?” We can see from the ending of the story, that the former is exactly what the people in Omelas tell themselves, “it [the child] is too degraded and imbecile to know any real joy” the people delude themselves into believing that the child is deserving of whatever pain and suffering befalls on them. Why, after initially feeling such rage over the the the captivity of the child, do they eventually “realize” i.e. convince themselves, that the child “would not get much good from of its freedom”? Guilt. This is the ultimate moral dilemma in Omelas, to choose between the happiness of the whole or the happiness of one, and the guilt of having to live with both decisions. Who is included in the whole though? Definitely not the child. The most telling part about our humanity however, might not even be with how the people lie to themselves in order to sleep at night, but in the reaction of” those who walk away from Omelas.” What they tell us when they walk away, is they are not trying, they are avoiding the guilt of Omelas by not trying to liberate the child but also not trying to help the city if the child ever were to be liberated. Perhaps, there is nothing they can do but leave. The people in Omelas live pleasantly, with nothing nagging their minds, but those who leave, what nags at their minds?

It is significant that those who leave, leave alone. I believe it speaks to our unwillingness to bring about change on our own. They walk away from the city but they also walk away from the child. They do nothing in an effort to change, but this shouldn’t just be attributed to us as people, but us as a society. In practice, would we actually go through with this? Probably not, this would spark outrage. Why though? Why not exist with perfect happiness? I believe it is because we are all, whether consciously or unconsciously, aware of the fact that justice is not based on equality but on equity. If we can not exist in such a way, we are all subject to the captivity of each other. Just like in Omelas, “they [the people], like the child, are not free.” Their mistake, however is in believing “there is nothing they can do.” Ironically, the views of equity in justice might be more idealistic than the city of Omelas, but it is what we want, true happiness. What Omelas has is unbound happiness, not tied to or rooted in anything but the misery of a single child. What they have “it doesn’t matter”, as long as they are happy, but is this really true happiness?

Who is Jane?

Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s, The Yellow Wallpaper, shows through wonderful use of unreliable narration, the stigma surrounding mental illness, and the infantilization of women’s health.

Before delving into the intersection of women’s mental illness, we should first acknowledge the unreliability in our narrator. Her husband, John, treats our narrator as someone emotionally unstable and constantly in need of assistance. John calls her feeling unwell “nervousness” and treats her ideas and suggestions as “hysterical” and delusional. John goes as far as to refer to his wife as a child as we see in the quote , “What is it, little girl?” So how do we know that we can trust our narrator? We don’t. It is up to the readers to decide what they do and do not want to trust.  We have to use context clues to know what we should believe and even then we only know a single “truth”, which is the narrator’s.

The story spirals further and further down our narrators delusions and we find ourselves not knowing quite exactly what is going on. We first begin with a small family that has moved in to an old house for a few months. Right from the get go we are made aware of the opinions on the narrator’s mental health, “he does not believe I am sick!” John is patronizing towards his wife.  The narrator even suggests “…perhaps that is one reason I do not get well faster.” There is a shift in the narrators views on her own health throughout the story. She begins with a certain doubt in her husbands treatment, “better in body,” but not in soul, however as the story progresses there is more emphasis placed on how much the husband loves the narrator. Here is where the narrator’s mental stability begin to deteriorate and we see her obsession with the yellow wallpaper increase.

The narrator begins to see, through deep analysis, that the patterns in the wallpaper move as time passes. She discovers a second “sub pattern” that incarcerates a women that she also finds in the wallpaper. The narrator is careful to avoid talking or even acknowledging the wallpaper around John and his sister, Julie, but even then, despite her efforts, they are still wary of her, Julie “report[s]” her findings to John. Eventually, the last night of her time there, the narrator becomes engulfed with the need to do something about that wallpaper, and she tears it off the wall along with the women in the wall “I pulled and she shook, she shook and I pulled.” The narrator was attempting to free the woman in the wall. The following day the narrator locks herself in the room and is determined to catch the woman from the wall. This is opposite to what she was doing the night before, her husband eventually walks in and the narrator says, “I’ve got out at last […] in spite of you and Jane.” Who is Jane? I believe that Jane is the narrator herself, the woman in the wallpaper was the narrator all along, she was attempting to free herself from all the constrictions that her husband placed on her, these were the patterns that kept the woman trapped in the wall. This can be interpreted as a metaphor for how often women’s health is ignored because of the generalized belief that women are sensitive and therefore more prone to lie about when they feel ill, this belief is wrong however, studies show that if anything women are more prone to the opposite.

It is important that we believe women when they say they are ill, especially because mental illnesses are not as easily detectable as physical ones.

Girl

Girl is a piece that is poignant in how it points out sexism in a girl’s day-to-day life. It can be inferred, that the story is a dialogue between a girl and her mother or some kind of female mentor. It is striking how casually sexist ideals are taught to young girls as simple rules of the world. It begins by outlining basic routines and tasks that are expected to be completed of a girl and slowly the lessons include more and more mature forms of sexism. “this is how to sew a button; […] this is how to hem a dress […] and so to prevent yourself from looking like [a] slut.” Throughout the piece there is a constant repetition of “the slut you are so bent on becoming” which speaks to a greater issue in society where a woman’s sexuality is seen as inherently sinful.

There are prominent examples of sexism that are taught to the girl in the story such as, “this is how to bully a man; this is how a man bullies you” and even dark examples like, “this is how to make a good medicine to throw away a child before it even becomes a child.” However, I find that the most telling examples throughout the story are the ones that bring up the microaggressions against women. “Don’t eat fruits on the street-flies will follow you,” “this is how you smile,” “this is how to behave in the presence of men who you don’t know very well,” and “you are not a boy.” these are some of the lessons that stood out the most. “Don’t eat fruits on the street-flies will follow you” is telling a girl to stop doing something so that something else she has no control over does not happen, a girl can’t control if the flies do or do not follow her, but she must stop eating fruit in an effort to stop them, she shouldn’t tempt the flies or attract them. This relates to rape culture and goes back to how women’s sexuality is seen as sinful, how women dress or how they act can imply that “they are looking for something” or that “they wanted to be raped in the first place.” The mentor in the story is teaching the girl this, and though the mentor is incorrect in following this logic, it comes from a place of wanting to protect, “this is how you prevent a tragedy in our current culture” might have been a better title for the lessons. The teachings even come down to things as minimal as how to smile, women’s actions aren’t just policed through their sexuality but their behavior as well. A women must behave a certain way in order to be perceived as a certain kind of woman, her thoughts and words are out the door if her mannerisms don’t reflect it. The mentor’s lessons are all given an effort to protect and “this is how to behave in the presence of men who you don’t know very well” implies this heavily. Men are seen as people to be feared and are immediately unworthy of trust, women must behave a certain way so as to avoid the wrath of a man whose mind and ways of acting are still unknown, a woman’s behavior is a preventive course of action. The ultimate lesson taught in the story is the reminder that the girl learning all this is not a boy. It seems quite obvious, like there is no need in pointing it out, but this single fact is the reason this story exists in the first place. “You are not a boy” and therefore are not allowed to act as you are, this is the difference between people who are required to live by guidelines and those who are not.

Ita Flores Introduction

Hello everyone, my name is Ita Flores. I’m an artist and I’ve lived in New York all my life. I work as an assistant teaching artist in Downtown Manhattan. I love music, art, reading, and politics. Over the summer I went to a few music events, museums, art shows, and the movie theaters. I enjoy exploring and walking around New York. By winter break, I plan on having a completed demo of a video game I’m in the process of making.

a picture from my trip to the MET

My strength as a writer would be that I have many opinions on several topics and my weakness would be that I have trouble explaining what I mean concisely. I enjoy reading, a strength I have would be that I can read quickly and understand texts well enough to discuss them, a weakness is that when I find a text uninteresting, long passages become  harder to parse for me. As a thinker, my strengths are that I read a lot about many topics and that I have many thoughts and opinions on them, I am very interested in philosophy and I tend to question many things in my day to day life. I think what I dislike the most about reading and writing is that they require the time in order to be truly immersed with them. I enjoy that writing gives me the space put my thoughts down on paper and see them more mapped out. Reading provides a place where I can think about hypotheticals in way that feels more real and closer to me.

I have a no experience with OpenLab, but I am well versed with technology online.

My favorite genres include, fiction (political, fantasy, and science) , drama, and magical realism. I also read short stories. I don’t think I have an all-time favorite text, but recently my favorites are, the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy by Kevin Kwan, Demian by Hermann Hesse, and the short story, Folding Beijing by Hao Jinfang.

I think fiction is a genre in literature that can be used to tell stories that can range from realistic history to wildly imaginative dramas. Fiction gives us the opportunity as a society to be thoughtful and creative. I plan on working within the vein of art in the future and learning about how our world operates is huge part of being an artist, literature, fiction specifically, is another medium through which we can communicate. I hope to learn all that I can this semester, especially, learning about the current state of the world through works of literature.

Thank you for reading!