Examples Of Utilitarianism In The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas

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“The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” is a short story by Ursula K. Le Guin. It was published in 1976 and is set in an ambiguous time period and location in a utopia called Omelas. This story discusses the idea of whether or not it is acceptable to destroy a small amount of people’s happiness for the good of the majority. The ethical theory behind this notion is utilitarianism: “that conduct should be directed toward promoting the greatest happiness of the greatest number of persons” (“Utilitarianism”). Throughout the text, Le Guin provides evidence that forcing a person to suffer so that everyone else is happy is wrong and, in the case of Omelas, should stop. The short story is divided into three parts: the setting, an explanation, and effects. …show more content…
This is the first glimpse the reader sees of Le Guin’s opinion on utilitarianism. By including this statement, she allows room for change within the community. Throughout the text, the reader would hope that not many know of this atrocity and that is the the reason this tradition is allowed to continue. However, this is not true. Everyone, it is said, knows the child exists and many of them have actually gone to see it. The narrator describes the state in which most people leave as “shocked and sickened at the sight. The feel disgust, which they had thought themselves superior to. They feel anger, outrage, impotence, despite all the explanations. They would like to do something for the child. But there is nothing they can do” ( 406-7). This passage is meant to elicit anger from the reader by describing the citizens as feeling powerless when the audience clearly knows that any one of these people could release the child but chooses not to. Most visitors go back to their homes with grief but a select few simply leave the town. Le Guin does not elaborate when she writes of this: “They go on” …show more content…
The reader pleads for someone to stand up and demand justice for the child but they are disappointed to find that the most “noble” thing done is that they walk away and pretend that because they are not there, it does not exist. Rather than having a traditional ending where everyone is happy, Le Guin uses a more simple arrangement and in doing so, the attention of the reader is focused toward the “call-to-action.” The author creates a sense of disappointment in the audience by showing the cowardice within the community. While most can agree that this child is suffering, the citizens of Omelas use the principle of utilitarianism and decide that their collective happiness is worth more than not just the happiness of the child, but its basic necessities as well. It is understandable that they feel disgust with themselves, but why don 't they do something about it? The cause could be selfishness but can they still be considered selfish if they make the decision to continue imprisoning the child for the well-being of their neighbors and

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