Omelas – The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas


Throughout the utopian city of Omelas, everyone is enjoying the Festival of Summer. Bells ring, people are dancing and singing.

However, a dark secret lies under the streets of this Utopian city. For all of the affluence and beauty that Omelas produces, one child is kept in utter misery and filth.

The Utilitarian Society Omelas

Utilitarianism, a philosophy that was developed by Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill in the 19th century, states that the moral rightness of an action depends on whether it maximizes social utility. This means that actions must produce the greatest amount of happiness and the smallest amount of suffering.

Le Guin’s story, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas,” provides a compelling example of the moral pitfalls of utilitarianism. In this short tale, the citizens of Omelas are able to achieve an utopian society that seems ideal, but that comes with a price.

The city’s residents are happy and peaceful, and most of them accept that the happiness of the community is contingent upon the suffering of a single child. However, there are a few citizens who become so disgusted by the fact that they are allowing this child to suffer that they choose to leave Omelas for good.

This is a very poignant example of the moral pitfalls of utilitarianism because it demonstrates that the people of Omelas prioritize their own happiness over the happiness of the child trapped in the basement. Even though the citizens may not have realized it at the time, they are still acting as if they were responsible for the child’s suffering.

In addition, it is important to consider how the citizens of Omelas may have felt about the situation that they were in before they chose to leave. If they were happy with the way that they were living, then they would probably have accepted this scenario as being just and right.

But once they became aware of the reality of the situation, it was too late. They were no longer responsible for the boy’s suffering, and that is why they walked away from Omelas.

Utilitarianism, a theory that states that actions must maximize social utility, requires that citizens be willing to make sacrifices for the betterment of their entire community. The question is whether or not the citizens of Omelas are willing to make that sacrifice and remain in the town. This is an important question, and it is something that the reader must decide for themselves.

The Child Omelas

The child is a representation of Jesus Christ. It is the one who is suffering for the pleasure of the people in Omelas, and it represents the guilt that they have for that. It is also the scapegoat that they have created in order to make them happy.

Ursula K. Le Guin is the author of the short story, “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas,” which won the 1973 Hugo Award for Best Short Story. It was published in her collection, The Wind’s Twelve Quarters, in 1975.

In this story, Le Guin explores the concept of Utilitarianism in a fictional setting. Her world is a Utopian society in which the happiness of everyone is ensured, with the exception of one small child who suffers in utter depravity.

Everybody knows about the vile room in which the child is kept, and they all know it is not for its own benefit, but rather to make Omelas a happier place. They would like to do something for it, but they have no idea how. They think if the child were brought up into sunlight out of that vile place, it might be cleaned and fed and comforted. But if it were done, all the prosperity and beauty and delight of Omelas would be destroyed.

Omelas is a beautiful city that is full of red roofs and painted walls, moss-grown gardens, and a shimmering or gong and tambourine (Le Guin). It is a paradise for its citizens, and it has become their favorite place.

But the city’s prosperity is dependent on a single child who is locked up in a damp and windowless room in a basement. The child is malnourished and dirty, and it is very feeble-minded. It remembers sunlight and its mother’s voice, but it has been all but forgotten by the world.

Whenever someone finds out about the situation, they are left with two choices: stay in Omelas and accept the child’s misery for their own benefit or leave Omelas. They either choose to remain in Omelas, which is a form of complicity, or they leave, braving the outside world in the dead of night in a silent protest.

The Guilt

Among the many things Le Guin teaches us in her short story “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” is that guilt is the most powerful of all emotions. When we harm someone, feel a sense of wrongdoing, or break our moral code, guilt is the most likely to rise up in us.

Guilt is a self-conscious emotion that often involves a painful appraisal of a past action or thought. It may also involve a readiness to take corrective actions designed to mitigate or undo the perceived wrong.

This aversive feeling is distinct from shame, which is characterized by the additional strong fear of our deeds being publicly exposed to judgment or ridicule.

While guilt and shame can be difficult to deal with, they belong in the past and should not interfere with your life today. If you are struggling with feelings of guilt that are causing you to have negative thoughts and habits, it can be helpful to seek support from a therapist or mental health professional. They can help you identify the root causes of your guilt, learn to manage your emotions effectively, and develop greater self-compassion.

When we feel guilty, we are more likely to forgive others and repair relationships that have been damaged. This is a socially important function that has a positive influence on the way we behave toward others.

However, when we over-feel guilt, it can become overwhelming and needlessly burden us. This is particularly the case when we are overly anxious, or have a significant history of emotional abuse.

We can also experience maladaptive guilt, which is when we feel guilty about something that we cannot control or prevent. For example, if we break a law or hurt another person, we may feel guilty about it even though we knew it was impossible to prevent.

When we experience guilt, we should strive to overcome it by accepting our mistakes and reevaluating our behavior. This will help you to make better decisions in the future and feel less guilty. If you are feeling overwhelmed by your guilt, seek therapy and other support to help you find a healthy balance between the need for forgiveness and the desire to do right.

The Choice Omelas

The ones who walk away from omelas are those who find the city to be untenable for them. They have a moral awakening that they cannot continue living in such a society, and they choose to leave. They leave the city on foot and never return. They are disgusted with this utilitarian mentality that says that the most important goal is the greatest amount of happiness.

In this story, Le Guin depicts a utopia that is structured on injustice. She does this by utilizing allegory, realism and symbolism to create a disturbing image of western civilization and to generate the probable response to such a situation.

She uses the wretched child in the basement as a scapegoat, a trope of suffering, and a ritual sacrifice that serves to bind together the citizens of Omelas and maintain their collective happiness. The child’s incarceration also functions as a moral quandary for the city’s inhabitants.

For those who believe that the child’s suffering is indefensible, they have no choice but to walk away from omelas. This is because if they do not, the entire city will suffer for their lack of courage. They will not have to live in such a miserable place, and they can enjoy their own lives of bliss.

However, most people in Omelas will choose to ignore this dilemma and continue living in the city. This makes their decision a moral one, and it is their responsibility to overcome this. The problem is that most of them will not overcome their moral quandary in a timely manner, and the city will continue to exist with the same sad conditions.

In order to understand this, the reader must examine both the textual world of Omelas and the real world counterpart to it. This involves asking themselves whether the terms of the social contract are acceptable to them as individuals. This is a difficult question that requires both moral intuition and intellectual analysis to resolve.

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About Author

Mikayla Dickson is the Managing Partner of PostingPapa – a multinational advertising agency focused on digital marketing that spans Eastern Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Pakistan.

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