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Omelas Analysis

2380 words - 10 pages

Deceit of the Utopia:
Analysis of “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” by Ursula K. LeGuin

What is one to make of the city of Omelas? It is a fantastical place so transcendental that the author herself struggles to properly detail its majesty. Omelas has everything— it is beautiful, technologically advanced, and bears no need for organized religion. The atmosphere is rich with music, festivities, and orgies. And even with all this excessive indulgence, the people manage to remain elite: expert craftsman in every art, scholars of the highest caliber, gentle mothers and fathers, and all-around good people. However, all this prosperity comes with a price. The success and happiness ...view middle of the document...

In our society, producing a child from fornication is frowned upon and discouraged, but in Omelas it is embraced fully. Mind-altering substances are also shed in a positive light. Drooz, a type of Omelasian drug, is said to bring, “a great lightness and brilliance to minds and limbs…wonderful visions at last of the very arcane and inmost secrets of the Universe… (1550). This rampant euphoria can be interpreted as merely that, frivolity that does no harm, or it can be seen as a major factor in the citizens’ rationalization of the ongoing pain of the child. It can be said that the actual misery of this individual in itself is quite pointless, as there is never a concrete explanation given for how it causes Omelas to be such a successful, happy place. However, what is and what man perceives something to be are two different things. As Jerre Collins describes in Leaving Omelas: Questions of Faith and Understanding, “The connection between the child’s suffering and the people’s happiness is stressed, yet while the narrator says that the connection can be understood, she advances no details…If the child’s suffering makes sense, that sense is not demonstrated.” (Collins 528). From this, one might come to the conclusion that the preservation of the child’s despair is so heavily emphasized to make up for the fact that is completely illogical. To further visualize this concept, one may use this example: if an individual believes a lie with enough intensity, no matter how erroneous it is, that statement starts to sound true in his or her head. Collins furthers his support for this idea by saying, “If the child’s suffering is not made rational, the Omelasians’ acquiescence is rationalized.” (528). That is, the acquiescence of the Omelasians’ minds to believing the delusion of a sense of harmony provided by the child’s grief. One could say that all the delights present in the city—the drugs, beer, and sex—all of them seem to provide distraction from the ugly truth of Omelas. They serve as mechanisms of denial, a means in which the citizens use to hide themselves from humanity.
The citizens come to the consensus that nothing can be done for the child, and nothing should be done. To help this one miserable child would lead to the suffering of an entire city, after all. This is what the narrator persuades us to think. She uses many methods to prove her point. For instance, she tells us that if the child were to be saved, “in that day and hour all the prosperity and beauty and delight of Omelas would wither and be destroyed.” (1552). She defends the people of Omelas, who are not heartless, cruel, mindless “simple utopians,” but instead as passionate, intelligent, gentle people capable of sympathy. However, they understand that “the beauty of their city, the tenderness of their friendships, the health of their children, the wisdom of their scholars…the kindly weathers of their skies, depend wholly on this child’s abominable...

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