There is a summer day festival and the narrator explains the joy witnessed in the city of Omelas. Every person; the women, children, men, even the horses, are all happy. The lives of the people seem pretty complicated, it is not very simple; they are ordinary men like those in the middle class, but with no evil or destruction in their hurts. They have no leaders who dictate or order them around. But the story takes a twist when the narrator reveals that a child lives in a basement in one of the buildings in the city. The child is described as, “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 Para. 8). No one seems to care about the child, they did not have a choice; saving the child meant that all their wealth and happiness would falter.
The story is full of ethical dilemma; the people of Olemas are either to choose their happiness or that of this child. Releasing the child means all the wealth, joy and peace are gone. They also have to decide whether to live with the child’s torture or leave home to forget and go as far as possible to an unknown place. The narrator states, “Each alone, they go west or north, towards the mountains. They go on. They leave Omelas, they walk ahead into the darkness, and they do not come back. The place they go towards is a place even less imaginable to most of us than the city of happiness…” (Le Guin Para. 15). Those who could withstand the torture could smile the following day, like nothing wrong is going on.
This is a reflection of the real society. The world is full of immoral injustices as a few are happy while there are undomiciled people living on the streets. In a wider context, Omelas can be compared to the country in which some are wealthy and comfortable as the remaining people suffer; however in reality the ones who suffer are the majority. Take for instance the immigrants in the US; they lack basic food and shelter and the children have become street urchins. The rich, however, do not care; they continue to get rich and manipulate legislations and laws to fit them; THIS IS OMELAS!
Le Guin, Ursula K. The ones who walk away from Omelas. Creative Education, 1993.
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