In the short stories “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” by Ursula K. Le Guin and “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson the characters in the stories show people living in a perfect place at first glance. Although looking deeper into the setting, theme, and symbols of "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" and "The Lottery" the short stories will show the reader a deeper meaning in the author’s writing. At the beginning of the short story “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas,” Guin portrays a beautiful summer day on which a festival is taking place. During the festival,
We learn of the character, character in the sense of both physical and psychological, which is sacrificed in order to achieve this utopia, this perfection. In The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas, it is the characters and setting that make this story a dark and profound story of what we will or will not do for the pursuit of happiness, security and serenity. At first, The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas could be perceived as a travel guide written by Rick
One of the themes of “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” is the price of selfishness. In her story Le Guin displays that if one’s happiness depends upon hurting another, one will never be at peace with themselves or truly happy. The narrator works hard to portray Omelas as a joyous community by describing the Festival of Summer with music, dancing, singing, smiles, excitement, and peace. The narrator explains that the price of this is joy built upon suffering through an innocent scapegoat. This scape goat is an innocent, negated, and abused child known by everyone as the sacrifice for their wrong doings so that they may continue to enjoy their joyous lives.
Rather than settle with the others and live in an immoral society, they choose another path. They literally walk away from the fake utopia and go out into the unknown. The narrator says, “The place they go towards is a place even less imaginable to most of us than the city of happiness” (253). The traveler, “each alone” (253), continues to walk away from Omelas with purpose. The beautiful, radiant and familiar life is left behind while they face an uncertain destiny.
It appears that the structure of Omelas is actually lack structure, for “there was no king. They did not use swords, or keep slaves. They were not barbarians. I do not know the rules and laws of their society, but I suspect that they were singularly few” (Le Guin). When citizens discover the child in the basement, they realize that there are more flaws in the structure of Omelas than they originally thought.
In the story “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas,” the person who suffers being isolated by society is the small child in the locked room under one of the beautiful buildings in Omelas. The people of Omelas are all aware of this child, but continue to ignore its plight because their prosperous lives “depend wholly on this child’s abominable misery,” (Guin 445) and they allow this child to endure that hardship so that they can appreciate their affluence. The citizens of Omelas are described as “not simple folk, you see, though they were happy,” (Guin 443) and are intelligent and cultured; however, the child in the basement is “feeble-minded,” possibly “born defective,” (Guin 445) has no concept of time, and finds fear in simple objects such as the mop. The descriptions of the perceived intelligence of the citizens and the child highlights the fundamental differences in what the society sees as good and what it believes should be hidden away from view. Unlike almost every other character that is brought up in the story, the child is not given a gender, further removing it from the norms of society.
In the middle of a beautiful city, a magnificent Summer Festival is taking place, with delicious food, playing children, and a glorious parade. Everyone in town is celebrating, apart from one child. In Ursula Le Guin's short story, "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas", a dark secret lies under the streets of an alluringly utopian town called Omelas. Moreover, Karl Shapiro's poem, "Auto Wreck" discusses the events of a devastating car crash, while analyzing the mechanical and biological events that follow. Although they differ in style, both works explore the themes of innocence and guilt as they question justice and morality.
In this quick introduction to the child, Guin explains to readers that the people of Omelas aren’t as perfect as they seem and that they, like everyone else, have secrets that no one would expect to be true. It is when Guin further explains the child to readers, that readers can see the purpose of the child “they all understand that their happiness, the beauty of their city, the tenderness of their friendships, the health of their children, the wisdom of their scholars, the skill of their makers, even the abundance of their harvest and the kindly weathers of their skies, depend wholly on this child 's abominable misery” (Guin 764). Although the people of Omelas know of the suffering child, they simply ignore it because they believe that the suffering of the child allows the city to be perfect and the citizens happy. This perception of control the people of Omelas have over their happiness, is very dangerous not only to the child but the other children of Omelas as well. This tradition puts a fear into the mothers and children of Omelas because they never know whether or not their child will be chosen next as the town’s sacrifice.
These three qualities of humanity truly turn a regular story into a good work of literature. Most stories touch upon the nature of goodness in the world, and that is what makes a good story stand out. Although there may be wars and bad people around us, there is always a lighter side. In “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” by Ursula K. Le Guin, Omelas is the happiest town on the