The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas
A background - this is what the brilliant Ursula K. Le Guin brings up in her very short 1973 story The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas. It just a few pages she asks us to conceive of a utopia, a place where everyone enjoys happiness, the lovely place. But for reasons unspecified, the happiness of all others depends...more
Or if the hypothesis were offered us of a world in which Messrs. Fourier's and Bellamy's and Morris's utopias should all be outdone, and millions kept permanently happy on the one simple condition that a certain lost soul on the far-off edge of things should lead a life of lonely t...more
This classic short story popped up in my feed this evening, and I decided to hunt it down and read it for myself. Gorgeous gut puncher is all I can say. I love a story that can sneak up on you like that and demand from you everything in you to give. It's one of those stories that insinuates itself into your soul, that lingers in the mind.
LeGuin poses the age-old question, does the end ever justify the means? Is the sacrifice of one or few ever worth it if it means protection of the many? Humans...more
A friend of mine teaches this story in college. There is a goose-bump moment when one student comprehends why the story is named what it is and w...more
What an amazing tale!
I am really glad I read it, (thanks for the recommendation review Stephen) though the imagery and the social and philosophical writing was very heart-wrenching, and/but eye opening indeed, as well.
There are a couple of sites that are offering the eBook version for free in the PDf format and it is short enough that if you have 10-20 minutes to spare, you should definitely give it a shot and let us know what you think, This is one I would not pass up if I were you. I am glad I...more
I stand in awe of the authors who can sketch the multi-dimentional world in few paragraphs. The love and hate, the calm and chaos, the active and passive, the politics and policies, the credo and beliefs, everything wrapped in a dainty package and delivered right at you doorstep. All one has to do is open and decipher it.
In this story Guin tells us of the city Omelas, calmer, happier and more model than any other. But underneath the quiet lies a secret which everyone knows a...more
Though at first appalled at the barbarity of such a bargain, we may begin to realize that in our civilization, though not in such an extreme way, the majority benefits from those who sacrifice to make their lives better....more
Reading this short story really makes me uneasy. I myself am a proponent of utilitarianism (the Mill variant, not the Bentham). Ev...more
The beginning is a little bit slow. It describes an Utopian city of happiness and prosperity. That is until you hear/read about the dark secret that lies in a city's basement. The price the people pay for this Utopia.
This short story, can make you question your moral beliefs. Would you sacrifice (view spoiler)[one person for the happiness of thousands? (hide spoiler)] Maybe you think you wouldn't. I hope I wou...more
This story is haunting - (view spoiler)[ it's bad enough that the society is allowing one per...more
That's why I have a hard time believing someone would not accept Omelas's deal. I feel that we as a society have done so in orders of magnit...more
Our immediate, visceral reaction to this question is waves of revulsion. We think of schadenfreude, "harm-joy", pleasure derived from others' pain; we think of the homicidal sadist who gets his kicks out of others' stab wounds, of the hateful grin of happy murderers, and think, No, no amount of pleasure can outwe...more
I am fundamentally opposed to having one persons pain procure the happiness of everyone else but 'the good of the many outweigh the good of the few' also rings true for me. Maybe it's because in this story, the 'few' has no say in the matter, that it disturbs me?...more
But we've (or perhaps, I came to this story much later i...more
When I first read it, I thought I was the person not in the story - the one who rescues the basement kid and makes sure no one ever has to go through that again. But over time, I wonder who I really am. What's the difference between the people who walk away (into situations that may or may not have the same "rules") and those who stay?
And of course I love rolling around in my head the theme that...more
When I was taking an applied music course in college, the professor held a class once a month for all APMU students, regardless of level, to sit in a class and play for each other and be critiqued by our peers. At the time, I was the ONLY first semester student, and the other fifteen or so students had been playing for five or more years. So, I was quite nervous about how these students - all younger than me by at least a decade - would r...more
The focus of this story is a fairytale paradise called Omelas. In this town everyone is care free. There is no disease, no ugliness, no death or decay. Visitors to the temple grounds in Omelas are free to copulate with any of the attractive priests and priestesses they so desire. In short, Omelas is a carnal paradise, but there's a catch. All of this beauty and seeming perfection depends solely upon the suffering of one small child who is kept in a dungeon beneath Omelas...more
In my opinion, the city of Omelas symbolizes ignorance. These people are beautiful, without problems, without pain, and so forth. This disabled child symbolizes everything “wrong” in the world. These “beautiful” people shun it, know it’s there, but do not accept it into society. This is exactly the definition o...more
I read a pdf from here: http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/faculty/dun....
Here, she invites us to imagine the city of perpetual happiness, Omelas. A smart move is how she breaks the fourth wall, telling the reader that it is impossible to properly describe the city and its people, and so its best for us to imagine it. But she doesn't...more
I am so conflicted right now.
*tries to shove divided halves of heart back together*
The Ones is a mean story. It asks a very, very hard question that I still cannot find the answer to. It makes you smile. It makes you shudder. It gives you a sick feeling in your stomach. And once it's over, you feel like one of the worst people on earth.
But you should read it - definitely. While it's not fun, it's one of those things that you really can't not read once you know about it.