Literary Analysis: The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas

2355 words 10 pages
1 May 2012
Deceit of the Utopia:
Analysis of “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” by Ursula K. LeGuin What is one to make of the city of Omelas? It is a fantastical place so transcendental that the author herself struggles to properly detail its majesty. Omelas has everything— it is beautiful, technologically advanced, and bears no need for organized religion. The atmosphere is rich with music, festivities, and orgies. And even with all this excessive indulgence, the people manage to remain elite: expert craftsman in every art, scholars of the highest caliber, gentle mothers and fathers, and all-around good people. However, all this prosperity comes with a price. The success and happiness of Omelas stems from the immense
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She tries to make one sympathize with and admire the resolve of the people of Omelas—“It is because of the child that they are so gentle with children.” (1552). If Le Guin’s message was that using the “greater good” model was viable to a successful society, it is very blatantly laid out in this passage. However, there exists a deeper meaning, one that is counterintuitive to everything presented in this story. In The Child in the Broom Closet, author Elizabeth Povinelli states, “…any goods generated from the kind of misery found [in Omelas] must be seen as socially cosubstantial as well as temporally nontransferable. My happiness is substantially within her unhappiness; my corporeal well-being is part of a larger mode of embodiment in which her corporeal misery is a vital organ…the ethical imperative is not to put oneself in the child’s place…Le Guin rejects the ethics of empathy.” (Povinelli 511). By doing this, Le Guin also tries to make the reader reject this natural human capability. She seems to try and do away with one’s sense of immediate compassion and reason by lulling one into a false sense of justification. Every detail she puts in the story is there to persuade the reader to think like the narrator and like the people of Omelas: to believe in a lie. With all of this in mind, the question is raised of what will happen if someone, one person who dares go against the