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Ethical Issues In Omelas By Ursula Le Guin

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The story of Omelas presented by Ursula Le Guin provides a simple, yet profound ethical question. Is the misery of one person worth the ultimate happiness for everyone else? The story of Omelas describes a city in which there is no guilt. The citizens enjoy life to its fullest, partaking in pleasures without consequences and not dealing with complex social issues that are burdensome in other places. There are few laws, no kings, no slaves, and the luxuries in life exist, as long as they do not cause destruction. On the day of the story, Le Guin describes a summer festival in which children race horses and everyone frolics through the streets merrily. Anything one could desire exists in Omelas, even drugs and sex, all without guilt. …show more content…

The author describes the arrangement in which the citizens of Omelas have made in exchange for their city of sublime existence. With whom the agreement is made is irrelevant, but the terms create the deep ethical dilemma. Within the city, in a basement, there lives a child. The child is ten years old, and is described as malnourished, underdeveloped, and scared. The child is in a closet, with dirt floors, and is fed a small amount of cornmeal and water every day. People come into the closet occasionally, but never speak to the child, as is a strict term of the agreement. This is the arrangement that allows Omelas to exist in the manner it does. This child seemingly bears the entire burden of misery for every other citizen in the city. The child is not a secret. Every citizen upon reaching a certain age is made aware of the child, and because of this, they are able to achieve the level of happiness, and appreciation for their own lives. The justify the existence of the child by convincing themselves that the child could never really be happy anyway, even if they were to release it from the

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