Class Discussion: “The Day Before the Revolution”

Just a reminder that you should¬†make your at least one comment (just hit ‚Äúreply,‚ÄĚ either to my original post or to another comment on it) by Sunday (3/16).

Then go back/read through all comments and extend the conversation by making at least two more comments (of course, more are always welcome!) in response by Tuesday (3/18). 

The goal is to have some good virtual discussions here to help you think critically about this short story. Therefore, your comments need not be very long: for example, you can provide a quote/citation and a few sentences of explanation of how/why it functions in the context of some larger issue/question (or you can raise questions, complicate issues, extend discussions, analyze a character, or setting, etc.).

Class Discussion: “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”

Just a reminder that you should¬†make your at least one comment (just hit “reply,” either to my original post or to another comment on it) by Sunday (3/2).

Then go back/read through all comments and extend the conversation by making at least two more comments (of course, more are always welcome!) in response by Wednesday (3/5). 

The goal is to have some good virtual discussions here to help you think critically about this short story. You can respond to one of my “discussion-starter”prompts/questions below, or you can discuss¬†any other aspect of the text that isn’t mentioned there.

Your comments need not be very long: for example, you can provide a quote/citation and a few sentences of explanation of how/why it functions in the context of some larger issue/question (or you can raise questions, complicate issues, extend discussions, analyze a character, or setting, etc.).

Here are some thoughts to get you started:

  • Discuss the initial imagery of Omelas (3-4).
  • Discuss the varying ways happiness is described in the text.
  • Who is the narrator?
  • How does the narrator invite the reader (“you”) to imagine the utopian city of Omelas (2-3)? Why does the narrator want the reader to co-create this utopia? What purpose might it serve in the context of what happens later in the text?
  • Why does the narrator keep asking the readers if they believe him/her (middle p. 4; bottom p. 6)? How have things changed in the story (and the readers’ perception of it) by the time the questions are asked the second time around towards the end of the story?
  • Discuss the characterization of the child in the room (and perhaps compare it to the boy flute player at the top of p. 4).
  • Why does everyone in the city have to be aware of the existence of the child? (5)
  • Is it possible to have a happy/good/just society at the expense of someone else?
  • Is ignorance bliss? Would the people in the story be better off not knowing of its existence? What would be gained from this ignorance? What would be lost?
  • Can you think if any analogy of the child in the room in our society? If so, who is the child, and who suffers at its expense?
  • Why do some people walk away from Omelas? Who are these people? Where do they go?
  • Explore how an element of fiction (or multiple ones) plays out in the text.
  • Explore one (or more) of the items on the Utopian/Dystopian Framework within the context of this short story.

Le Guin (The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas) post

This story was confusing and I don’t understand what was going on. The author in all these Utopia stories I have read so far are good with describing one thing to another thing so is not clearly comprehend well unless you analyze what the hints in the story are. At the beginning of this story “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”. I had no idea what the author was describing. The hint using the word summer told me that it was summer time and there was a festival going on. The author talked about what the town was like what telling us “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.” In the beginning the author also try to describe what the people were like but not much was giving. The city of Omelas was surrounded by several mountains because the text said Far off to the north and west the mountains stood up half encircling Omelas on her bay. Omelas seem to be a nice place of happiness when describing the summer and how the people were happy but then when I read there was a kid in a room being abused I did not know what to think because how can those people be happy and some of the people were kicking the child in the dark room. My mind changed from a happy setting to a sad emotion state thinking about how bad the child was treated in the dark. I find there was a lot of words I did not know the definitions to and I find it a problem because I constantly was looking for the meaning. There was some point in the story where the author asked questions about the joy of the people in Omelas. I was lost on whether the people was happy or unhappy. In the story I got the full idea that this story was about a horse race. I got that idea when i read the part of the story with these words “As if that little private silence were the signal, all at once a trumpet sounds from the pavilion near the starting line. The settings change all the time so I could never know what I should set my mind on. There is a part in the story where they describe a skinny child in a dark room being abussed by visitors kicking him/her. The child suppose to be ten years in age and looks like 7 years old because of malnutrition. The story says that mostly kids around 12 come to see the child in that room. To me I feel that the child being in that room let others be happy for not being in that situation. Them not being in that room themselves makes them happy but sad to see how terrible the child suffers. I don’t know why this is a part of their society and is clearly a part of their culture because the adults would not let their children see the child in that condition for fun.

The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas

Le Guin has a similar patter for both “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas and “The Day Before the Revolution”. This pattern is very descriptive imagery. In Omelas the first paragraph is pure description of the setting. The author uses strong words to allow the reader to experience a more vivid imagery like “The rigging boats in harbor sparkle with flags”( paragraph 1). The way she uses sparkle gives the sentence a different feel. It seems more colorful, bright and full of life. The way she uses her words to describes the scenery is very interesting and also very easy to imagine. Le Guin also uses a lot of description in Revolution also for the setting. She describes the crowds and how the character struggles to get in between all the people “only the booming and the bodies pressed one behind the other”. In this sentence she doesn’t directly say it is crowded, but she gives more of a feeling especially when she says bodies pressed one behind the other. This gives a more vivid feeling and picture of whats happening.

Although her imagery is very vivid and very easy to view and feel, when she gets further into her story everything gets more complicated to understand. In the story Omelas i started to feel very confused after the narrator spoke about technology. i didn’t really understand what they meant with that line. Also the fact that they say “people of Omelas are happy people”(paragraph 4). But before they had mentioned in the beginning of paragraph three ¬†” we do not say the words of cheer much anymore”. It makes me loose the point of the story. How can you the people of Omelas me happy people but not be able to express it. Throughout the whole story their is a big message or idea of happiness being repeatedly mentioned. But it seems like the narrator has a hard time describing it because they keep contradicting themselves. The pattern and the way the story is told seems really confusing in general. The way they mention drooz, being a sort of drug. If this is such a happy place why do only some people take the drug? The story doesn’t really explain a real reason on why they take the drug. It only describes the feeling the drug gives, but not enough on why do they take the drug. The setting of the place seems bright enough so why do some like to take but not all?

From what i have read from Omelas, I get the feeling that the people from Omelas aren’t really happy people. They take drooz to feel brilliance to their minds and bodies. Also a very important change to the story when the narrator is speaking about the wonders of Omelas an its festival. Then unexpectedly a change of mood occurs when the child in the basement is described. Its like the ironic part of the story. Throughout the whole beginning of the story we hear of sparkles and happiness. But then more deep into their is this switch in which the child lives the complete opposite of happiness. What is the real message that Le Guin tries to send?

Le Guin Reading Post

I believe that the story about Omelas was an interesting read. I did read through it twice to get a better understanding of it. I read through it and for some reason I felt that the author was describing a fantasy world that she made up. One of the sentences that really caught my attention was the one that says “But what else should there be?” (Pg3 Le Guin). This made me feel as if the author was creating this utopian world as she went on with the story. On page 2 Le Guin also says “For instance, how about technology?”. This makes me feel as if he’s deciding what kind of technology the people in Omelas would have. If he has the ability to decide then this must be some kind of world he’s creating or imagining.

After reading through pages five thought seven you learn about the child in the closet. That’s barely fed and has no clothes on. He’s clearly been in this closet for a long time as they say his belly protrudes. His belly can only protrude because he is so thin since he’s not being fed. They say his thighs and buttocks have sores because he’s been sitting in his own feces. It takes time for sores to form so he must have been sitting in his feces for a long time. I also wonder why they show the child to children who are between the ages of 8 and 12. Why don’t they wait till the children are adults. I mean how can a child understand why this child is in this closet and isnt being helped. They explain to the childten that the child can’t even be spoke to nicely. That is the agreement for the prosperity of Omelas. Then you realize they never mention who they have this agreement with. Religiously you think about the greater power being god. Then you wonder who exactly is this agreement with.

They explain that some people after seeing the child leave Omelas. the narrator says “But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas” (page 7 Le Guin). If they know where they are going then why don’t the other people who find this act of sacrificing one life for everyone else to be happy leave. Now the story ends but what happens with the child living in this condition, wouldn’t he die. If he dies then what do they just choose another child to put inside this closet. if that’s the case then it’s not like the narrator says “To exchange all the goodness and grace of every life I’m Omelas for that single,” (pg 6 Le Guin). It wouldn’t be a single life because if they’re constantly changing the child it’s not just one life they’re sacrificing. This is my analysis of this weird but interesting story.

Le Guin and her unusual stories.

Reading this author way of writing stories was really difficult to understand at first.¬†This author explains things in a way that isn’t easy to understand. She uses a variety of vocabulary words. When I first read these stories I felt discouraged to continue reading them because of the high use of vocabulary words, but once you start knowing what those words mean, the stories actually get really interesting. One of the stories Guin talks about is a woman, at first you can’t tell if she’s young or old, but we later find out shes an elderly woman. This author explained the things this elderly woman achieved while being young. The author tries to make us see from the elderly’s woman point of view, of what she sees, and ¬†how she used to be someone really important and she started observing get life and seeing that she was in a prison. It wasn’t meant literally, but she felt like it was, she barely went outside to walk around. The reason she didn’t do this was because if a stroke she had had a while ago. After that she was traumatized to walk outdoors again. She then Noticed something had to changed, she wanted to go see what was outside. At the end I feel as if she was dying slowly, she didn’t want anyone to notice where she was, I felt rather sad what what this woman went through. At the end it left me thinking with what was left at the end : “the dry white flowers nodded and whispered in the open fields of evening. Seventy-two years and she had never had time to learn what they were called(Le Guin Pg 14)”. That phrase left me thinking of what is really important in life. I felt like she did without knowing what was really important in life, she missed the big details in her life, when she thought It wasn’t important.

The author Le Guin wrote another short story called “The Ones Who walk away from Omelas. This story starts with the author trying to explain to us of a “perfect world” with no problems of any kind. The story starts really good, demonstrating this great Utopia. Place. But later on in the Story, as I read, I started getting a bit confused, it explained that in order for this town to remind as the “perfect world” that it is , a child either boy or girl must be kept in some sort of captivity and live in very terrible conditions. This boy/girl is the reason why the Whole town can have this Happy, and perfect world . This scene or section of the story really bothered me. As I read this: “They all know it is there, all the people of Omelas…..They all know that it has to be there (Le Guin page 5)”. This section demonstrated they treat the child, that is in captivity as an Object! They don’t even treat it as a human being. This child would cry “help me!” And no one can help him. If they helped ¬†him, their perfect world would be destroy. I see this as a sacrifice that has to be done in order for other to live in a perfect world. “the beauty of their city……….the health of their children…..even the abundance of their harvest and kindly weathers of their skies, depend wholly on this child’s abominable misery (Le Guin page 5) .” So they consider this child that is treated badly as an Object, Yet, all Goodness depends upon he’s misery.

Le Guin

The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas is written by Ursula Le Guin. ¬†In this piece, Le Guin describes Omelas as a whole, a long with the Festival of Omelas and the people of Omelas. ¬†Le Guin describes the Festival of Omelas to be such a vibrant event. ¬†She goes on about how the festival contained “a shimmering of gong and tambourine,” dance and singing. ¬†She even included the horses of Omelas who had manes that were “braided with streamers of silver, gold, and green.” ¬†To me, it is significant that Le Guin described the horses. ¬†Horses are usually a symbol of strength. ¬†When I think of a horse I think of a horse running free. ¬†When I think of the colors silver, gold and green, I think of good luck and high status. ¬†While Le Guin continued on about how happy a place Omelas was with their “joyous clanging of bells,” all I could think about is the fact that Omelas may not be as happy as Le Guin explains it to be.

After all the talk about Omelas and its happiness, Le Guin introduces us to a child. ¬†Neither ¬†boy or girl was specified. ¬†This child is held in the basement under “one of the most beautiful public buildings of Omelas.” ¬†The child is held against its will. ¬†Malnourished and abused physically ¬†and mentally, the child cries out for help only until he can not cry out anymore and begins to “eeh-ahh.”

I find it weird that this boy is being trapped under Omelas in misery, while everyone else in Omelas gets to live in happiness. ¬†Le Guin states that without the boy, Omelas wouldn’t be the “happy” place that it is. ¬†If one was to set the boy free, Omelas loses its happiness.

I don’t understad how Le Guin can consider Omelas to be such a happy place when in actual reality, the fact that an entire city has to depend on the misery of one child is not happy at all. ¬†It’s sad. ¬†The people of Omelas are trapped behind their fear of unhappiness hoping that one day this boy can be set free.

The ones who walk away from Omelas are the happiest people in my eyes. ¬†They walk away from the idea of living in such a “happy” place and decide to enter a place with less happiness. ¬†Probably a place that does not have to depend on one boy to keep the whole city happy. ¬†The place they travel to may not be as happy as Omelas, but the people who travel out of Omelas seem to be content with that.

Blog #1: Le Guin

The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas

The story hooked me from the get go. It painted a very bright picture of what a perfect society would be and then it crashes you down to give you a perspective of what reality is like. Almost waking you up from a daydream.

“Do you believe? Do you accept the festival, the city, the joy? No? Then let me describe one more thing.” (Le Guin 4)

The part about the deformed child being hidden away from society really struck me down when reading the story. The narrator talks about the child not even being considered human to the people in Omelas. It almost gave me a feeling of the child being something of a special attraction where people would pay just to see this thing and find some form of sadist entertainment. Their world was so perfect that something considered ugly to them was not accepted, and they had hide it before their [i]perfect[/i] children see it and it burns their eyes. Through this part of the story I reflected back the beginning of the story where the narrator talks about Omelas, and this festival that’s going on, and the children playing, and he describes the adults as simple, but mature and intelligent. I put the pieces together, that not only was he visualizing, but he was telling us about his Utopia of what Omelas should be. Throughout the story he’s adding pieces to this core of fantasy that he calls Omelas. He even uses questions to ask the reader what he thinks should go where. Almost like putting together a puzzle:

“How describe the citizens of Omelas?” (Le Guin 1)
“For instance, how about technology?” (Le Guin 2)
“But what else should there be?” (Le Guin 3)
“What else, what else belongs in this joyous city?” (Le Guin 4)

I don’t know why but I found it interesting. In the end the narrator talks about men, women, and children who saw this “thing” would be so disturbed that they would walk far away from Omelas and never seen again. Le Guin uses great adjectives and a great amount of imagery to drive me in and then toward the middle of the story paint a dark picture of reality.

The Day Before the Revolution

Laia going through the pains from the loss of her husband, Taviri. Is now an elderly woman living in a home filled with others who are starting this “revolution”. Le Guin uses imagery and comparison of Laia’s past to connect to the present where she’s looking at the much younger people living in the same house as her planning out some kind of revolution. I read through the story a few times and all I kept paying attention to was her connection to her husband who passed rather than her connecting her past to the present.

“”Taviri, I have never forgotten about you!” she whispered, and the stupidity of it had brought her back to morning light and the rumpled bed. Of course she hadn’t forgotten him. These things go without saying between husband and wife.” (Le Guin 4)

She talks about a younger fair colored man named, Noi. Who makes it known she’s had sexual relationships with and has awkward conversations with, and still can’t let go of her dead husband. Her old age, and her stroke, catches up with her in the end while she’s going downstairs and still has no choice but to accept her pending death. As a sort of way of finally letting go and seeing her husband.

Omelas

The ones who walked away from Omelas is a very interesting tale. It was to me at least, a very difficult story to follow. I had to read over to pick up on things I didn’t catch or understand the first go round. The author uses the setting and the description of the town’s people to set the mood as joyous and cheerful. “…….quiet, merry women carrying their babies and chatting as they walked.In other streets the music beat faster, a shimmering of gong and tambourine, and the people went dancing, the procession was a dance” ( Omelas 1). On the second page the author hints that something is wrong but doesn’t give to much away as to what. ” Yet I repeat that these were not simple folk, not dulcet…….bland utopians” ( Omelas 2). That passage to me, means the people aen’t the happy, good people, we were lead to believe by the author’s description of them on the first page. That these people, the town of Omelas is holding a dark secret. The author then explains that we as humans are used to seeing evil, that evil is normal to us and happiness and boring. Happiness isn’t exciting, we need evil in our lives. With all this being said, we are afraid to embrace it. “…….. of considering happiness as something rather stupid. Only pain is intellectual, only evil is interesting……….. But to praise despair is to condem delight, to embrace violence is to lose hold of everything else” ( Omelas 2)

The author then brings back the joyous mood, until we get to the unexpected and disturbing introduction to this child. This then ties into the passage earlier of Le Guin preparing us that the town’s people aren’t so good. The description of the child is offensive to the reader. In a town of such respectable people, how can a child, the most precious thing, be neglected and for all intents and purposes abandoned? ” It could be a boy or a girl. It looks about six, but actually is nearly ten…….. Perhaps it was born defective, or perhaps it has become imbecile through fear, malnutrition, and neglect” ( Omelas 4). From this point until the end of the story I have more questions than answers and I am left feeling unsatisfied. ¬†Why in a town like this, that the misery of this child, is so important? “…… to throw away the happiness of thousands ¬†for the chance of the happiness of the one: that would be to let guilt within the walls indeed” ( omelas 6) It actually sounds¬†utilitarianist, if it wasn’t so cruel! Le Guin doesn’t tell us why, why is this case? All Le Guin tells us is that they can’t help the child. They are trapped like the child is trapped. ” They know that they, like the child are not free” ( Omelas 6). I take this mean to that their happiness is soley dependent on the child, so this is a necessary evil they must endure. But if this is true, then why do the people who are so disgusted and fed up leave the town? Are these few brave people giving up their happiness because they can’t live with knowing about what is going on with the child?

Another question I have is at what age did this abuse of the child start? The child wasn’t born into this. And why this child in particular? ¬†What happened to the child’s mother? Le Guin gives us no answers to these questions either. “……. but the child, who has not always lived in the tool room, and can remember sunlight and it’s mother’s voice……..” ( omelas 5). This line raises so many questions that Le Guin doesn’t answer! I find it extremely frustrating! One of my last questions is, this child is he related to the flute player? are they siblings? cousins perhaps? What is the connection? Do they know of each other’s existence? Do they know each other’s fate? ( They know that if the wretched one were not there sniveling in the dark, the other one, the flute player, could make no joyful music….” ( omelas 6) Why is that? What is the connection there? For me this was an interesting read once I read it over. It left me wanting more. I wanted the story to continue on and answer all of the questions that the text raised.

Le Guin response

The festival in omelas city is in the summer is filled with loud music and food among the streets,but why is it snow in the summer? The omela citizens sound like joyful people that have interesting festivals and believes but why are the citizens not happy anymore? They seem to function within the medieval times era yet they don’t have Nobel families to look up to nor slavery to depend on. The omela adult citizens do not believe that money and materialistic things helped you gain happiness and satisfaction, but instead passion and intelligentsia did so. I feel that the narrators mind runs wild in curiosity of how he/she thinks the city should run since the citizens are not into modern technology and trends. The citizens seem to be really shallow since they will not accept any imperfections such as the deformed child they keep locked away in a basement because they claim that by doing so it preserves the beauty that is around the city and themselves. Although they may be intelligent and passionate citizens they really do seem to drown themselves in ignorance on the well being of that child. They rather one person be shun from the outside world,treated horrible and starved and left to sit in its own waste in order for the rest of the city to live in peace and harmony. Why do they really believe that the city will be destroyed if the childish released to see the sunlight and be treated equal? I don’t understand why so many tourist who come visit the city don’t put a stop to the cruel treatment of the deformed child since it brings rage and heartache to them. All though the tourist don’t make an attempt to really stop the madness they take the time to realize that it is life and sometimes there isn’t much they can do about it. I found it interesting that some citizens that eventually go down to see the child realizes that the city they live in is no longer the place that they wish to stay in and leave without any regrets.