Ursula K. LeGuin's The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas Essay

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Ursula K. LeGuin's The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas
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In "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas," Ursula K. LeGuin makes use of colorful descriptions and hypothetical situations to draw us into a surrealistic world that illustrates how unsympathetic society can be. LeGuin's ambiguity of how the story will go is purposeful; she cunningly makes her case that each of us handles the undesirable aspects of the world we live in differently, and that ultimately, happiness is relative.

As we explore this peculiar world of Omelas, we are prompted to ask ourselves, "What do I think is the `perfect society'? What is happiness to me?", and most importantly (to me), "Would I walk away from Omelas?" While we explore these
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"But we do not say the words of cheer much any more. ."..All smiles have become archaic" (1264). Why are the smiles archaic? This passage suggests the people of Omelas no longer know what happiness is, that happiness is more of an action that a reaction. As we contemplate this we can imagine oblivious smiling faces with staring, empty eyes. This notion festers in our side like a rotting sliver, creating an uncomfortable unease before we know what "isn't right" with Omelas, while we immerse ourselves in the opulent description of what seems to be the perfect utopian society.

"I do not know the rules and laws of their society, but I suspect that they were singularly few" (1264) Here, LeGuin hands us the reins so that we might guide ourselves through Omelas, yet nudging us along by reminding us that "[these] were not simple folk, not dulcet shepherds, noble savages, bland utopians" (1264), they are ."..mature, intelligent, passionate adults" (1264) ....like us? Shall we have modern technology or not? If so, not as much that it ruins the perfection of this utopia.

Suddenly the uneasy undertow comes full circle and washes us ashore as we are encouraged to amalgamate sexual desire and religion:

I fear that Omelas so far strikes some of you as goody-goody. Smiles, bells, parades, horses, bleh. If so, please add an orgy. If an orgy would help, don't hesitate. Let us not, however, have temples from which
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