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Summary Of The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas

Decent Essays
Jacob Straub
9 October 2017
English 110
Professor Brennan

Thesis: Ursula Le Guin's story, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” fails to adequately critique utilitarianism due to the scenario established in the story being so outlandish and oversimplified. In the story, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” Ursula Le Guin introduces a utopian society in which everyone has a high quality of life. However, that high standard of living is at the expense of one child who lives in misery. Le Guin uses this story to express a society in which the general welfare of a community is ensured as long as the only child has to suffer.
However, before looking into Le Guin's vision of a society run by a utilitarian morality, we need to know what is Utilitarianism. Utilitarianism is a system that is specifically designed to satisfy the needs and wants of as many people as possible while sustaining minimal suffering. Le Guin shows this concept with Omelas, a city that consists of high happiness of the majority of the population for the price of the pain of a child who is locked away in a cellar in total misery. How this society came to be is an absolute mystery and is left up to the reader to think about. The vagueness of the creation of Omelas shows how the creation of the city does not matter but how it runs now, is what is essential. This allows the reader to do exactly what the author wants: that is to focus and be skeptical about the ethics of Utilitarianism. For example, Le
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