The Ones Who Walk Away From A Short Story By Ursula K. Le Guin

1097 Words Nov 21st, 2014 null Page
“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. The setting is the largest portion of the text and speaks of how happy everyone in the town is: “Joyous! How is one to tell joy? How describe the simple citizens of Omelas? They were not simple folk, you see, though they were happy. All smiles have become archaic” (Le Guin 404). At the mention of the word “archaic”, the reader may wonder what purpose such an adjective serves. Why would an author use a term synonymous with old to describe joy, which is usually associated with life? Its purpose could be to foreshadow the sinister event that these smiles are derived from. Towards the end of the text, the narrator questions whether or not the reader can believe that this is a true place. Le Guin then reveals the sinister secret to…

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