An Exploration of Utilitarian Context in the Short Story "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas"

2215 Words Oct 8th, 2012 9 Pages
An exploration of utilitarian context in the short story “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”
In the story “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” there is an underlying instrument for gaining opulence. The instrument in this story is a strain on one’s moral code and buried deep in tradition. Mrs.Le Guinn, the author of “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”, utilizes this short story to portray how utilitarianism is justified, accepted, and deemed tolerable within society, even to the point of sacrificing the innocent to create an inescapable relative happiness.
Utilitarianism’s is based on a basic moral principle of utility. Utility in this context could be defined is a form of “happiness”. A textbook definition of utilitarianism is,
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Mrs.Le Guinn describes the peoples reaction with a powerful statement, “Some of them understand why, and some do not but they all understand that there 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 abdominal misery.” (Guin). Everyone in Omelas is aware of this travesty and most of Omelas’s population comes to see this for themselves. Not everyone understands why Omelas has to obtain there greatness from this child’s suffering but all is aware the suffering is where the greatness is derived. This matter is explained to children when they are past their tender years and capable of understanding. Many of the young people go home upset and in a rage when this rotten irony is revealed to them. After the initial tears are dried from seeing this travesty, human nature settles in and according to their society they justified the end with the means. Everything the city is built on lies on the back on the child’s suffering. We later learn that not everybody can accept their happiness at such a high cost, “At times one of the adolescent girls or boys who go to see the child does not go home to weep or rage, does not, in fact, go home at

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