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The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas

4.31  ·  Rating Details  ·  5,008 Ratings  ·  331 Reviews
Do your students enjoy a good laugh? Do they like to be scared? Or do they just like a book with a happy ending? No matter what their taste, our Creative Short Stories series has the answer.We've taken some of the world's best stories from dark, musty anthologies and brought them into the light, giving them the individual attention they deserve. Each book in the series has ...more
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published April 1997 by Creative Education, Inc. (first published January 1st 1973)
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The Tell-Tale Heart and Other Writings by Edgar Allan PoeThe Complete Stories and Poems by Edgar Allan PoeThe Martian Chronicles by Ray BradburyThe Complete Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan DoyleNine Stories by J.D. Salinger
Best Short Stories
55th out of 1,232 books — 774 voters
The Paper Menagerie by Ken LiuThe Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas by Ursula K. Le GuinFlowers for Algernon by Daniel KeyesI Have No Mouth and I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison"Repent, Harlequin!" Said the Ticktockman by Harlan Ellison
Hugo Award Winners: Best Short Story
2nd out of 63 books — 17 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Nataliya
Oct 15, 2012 Nataliya rated it really liked it
Recommended to Nataliya by: Traveller
Is the happiness of thousands worth the suffering of a single innocent person? Of one innocent child? Think about that. And hold your loud and resounding and outraged NO! for a minute.



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 depend
...more
Cecily
"we have a bad habit, encouraged by pedants and sophisticates, of considering happiness as something rather stupid. Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting. This is the treason of the artist"

I read these half-dozen pages a couple of days ago, and it haunts me still.
(Read it here: http://engl210-deykute.wikispaces.umb....)

A strange, disturbing and very thought-provoking short story.

There's something indefinably odd and slightly, chillingly, distant about the language from the start. Th
...more
mark monday
Jun 29, 2015 mark monday rated it really liked it
“The trouble is that we have a bad habit, encouraged by pendants and sophisticates, of considering happiness as something rather stupid. Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting. This is the treason of the artist: a refusal to admit the banality of evil and the terrible boredom of pain.”

In case you need reminding that Le Guin is one of the very best of writers, a person of compassion and anger and intellectual rigor and elegant grace, a person of vision... read this story. It is barely 8
...more
Traveller
Jan 28, 2014 Traveller rated it it was amazing
To me, this short story offers one of those "open question" scenarios. Apparently it was written in response to Le Guin's reading of the following passage from The Moral Philosopher and the Moral Life by William James:

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
Stephen
6.0 stars. On my list of "All Time Favorite" short stories and is in the running to be number one. Not so much a story as a narrative description of a fictional town in which everyone lives in complete and total happiness at the expense of one child's abject misery and suffering. As powerful and as emotional a piece of writing as I have ever read in any genre. Find it and read it and I am sure you will agree. This one is amazing. Highest Possible Recommendation.
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
They all know it is there, all the people of Omelas. Some of them have come to see it, others are content merely to know it is there. They all know that it has to be there.

This 1973 Hugo Award-winning fantasy short story is extremely short, and online, and this review will contain some spoilers, so if you haven't read this already, I strongly recommend that you take 5 or 10 minutes right now and do so here. I will wait.

description

**Random trivia while we're waiting: Le Guin said that the name Omelas came f
...more
Trudi

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
Jude
Jul 01, 2008 Jude rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Jude by: kimi reminded me
It's curious that so many (amazon) reviewers identify so uncritically with those who walk away. I think that is the base-note of the story - and the element that haunts those of us who often witness injustice from a heartsick and ineffectual distance: having enough wit to see wrong but not enough imagination/courage/energy to engage with it, change it.

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
Scribble Orca
This book is an analogy for how we justify enjoying our good fortune obtained though the enforced suffering of others. Whether it is within the circle of your own family, your neighbourhood, your state or your country, there is a chain of events, circumstance, belief and acquiescence which continues to sustain an amoral inequality in our local and global societies. We wouldn't need this book or others like it if reality was different.
Amar
Mar 18, 2015 Amar rated it it was amazing
Wow.Predivno napisano !
Na šta smo spremni za vlastitu "sreću" ? Vrijedi li patnja jednog stvorenja , da bi stonine bili sretni ?
Svi mi želimo da se promjene stvari. Ali , ko je spreman da te stvari uzme u svoje ruke i da dela ? Velike reference i sa našim svijetom ,koji je pun patnje da bi nekolicina moglo lijepo živjeti. Svi mi okrećemo leđa od problema, jer ako ne vidimo , problem ne postoji. Izgleda da ljudi ne shvaćaju da odlaženjem iz Omelasa, problem i dalje postoji i da nisu ništa bolji o
...more
Zanna
Aug 13, 2014 Zanna rated it it was amazing
I wrote this last year when I read the story with a book group. It's one of the first reviews I wrote, and rather than edit it to improve, I present it here in its flawed state as an early attempt!

Le Guin signals that this is a fable or fairytale by opening with a utopian scene. She unfurls it with the flourish of a carnival, a Festival of Summer that brings out merry mothers, elders in stiff robes, and children whose high calls do no harm. There are horses, colours, ceremonial nakedness, number
...more
Erich Franz Linner-Guzmann

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
Leonard
Apr 05, 2014 Leonard rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Omelas's citizens have all the blessings we could imagine and they are cultured and wise but the price of having these good fortunes is one child's misery. A "scapegoat" to take on the "sins" of the city. Similar to the Biblical idea of the Savior taking on the sins of the world.

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
Prashant
Apr 27, 2012 Prashant rated it it was amazing
Shelves: e-book
Crazy, Crazy Stuff !

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
Sidharth Vardhan
"We may be the playthings of Fate. We cannot breathe without taking life. As we talk here, we are ourselves the cause of the deaths of countless little lives."
- Ramayana (Wiliam Buck rendering)


After building a utopia like place in some detail, narrator suddenly turns it into a morality problem, by bringing in a single suffering child. In real world the luxury of a few has always come at price of suffering of others (humans as well as animals). My last read happened to be 'A Modest Proposal' by
...more
Brian
Jun 04, 2014 Brian rated it it was amazing
The irony that I am writing a review for this story on a device whose creation can most likely be directly attributed to some level of exploitation of poor people in another part of the world is not lost on me.

The fact that I own items from Nike, Banana Republic and other American apparel companies that have well documented levels of malfeasance in treating their employees - and refuse to end this abuse because shitty people like me keep buying their crap, even when we know what they do - is an
...more
Priyanka
Mar 11, 2015 Priyanka rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories
A fantasy giant, Le Guin is a writer of extraordinary wisdom delivered with irresistible wit.

"The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" is an allegorical tale. Its theme is haunting, its allusions powerful, its meaning multifarious. It's a story about the use of a pharmakos, to keep the society happy. Dealing with issues related to the concept of theodicy, the story mirrors aspects of the current society's dependence on the unfortunate and explores the meaning and cost of happiness as we know it.

Le Gu
...more
Duane
Alert, this review is full of spoilers.

The city of Omelas is a place of joy and happiness, but if it doesn't suit you, change it to what makes you happy. Isn't that what we all do now with our lives, our place of joy and happiness. Le Guin even imagines "beautiful nudes that wander about, offering themselves like divine souffles to the hunger of the needy and the rapture of the flesh". And why not drugs, the ones that create "wonderful visions and excite the pleasure of sex beyond belief". I'm b
...more
Joanna
I am not one of the ones who walk away from Omelas. How can I possibly, while typing this on my laptop, laying on my bed next to my cell phone and tablet, watching netflix, eating taquitos and basically having a great time. Who suffers for my comfort? Many people, I expect. And that's not going to change if I only get angry about it. I suppose I could be a more informed voter and consumer, but I try to do those things dispassionately and without identifying too strongly with a choice (to make my ...more
R.K
Mar 17, 2014 R.K rated it it was amazing
I hate this. I really hate this story. At first I thought what they were doing to that child was cruel and I would have no part in it. I would be the one who walked away from Omelas. But then I realized the child would still be suffering even if I left. So I decided to go and rescue the child. But if I do that, I would be destroying every other person's happiness and isn't that just as wrong? I was stuck on all decisions, and realized that every action had a consequence. And then I thought, 'Dam ...more
Alex ☣ Deranged KittyCat ☣
You can read this short story here or listen to it on YouTube.

I want to believe I would walk away from Omelas. And you know what? I'm a hypocrite. I would not feel so outraged should it all happen to an adult. But to a child? "I will be good," it says. "Please let me out. I will be good!" Why a child? Child abuse always gets to me.

And why this sacrifice? Who made this rule? Symbolism be damned, I want this child freed because i know about him/her. I despise the people of Omelas for accepting wha
...more
Petra
Dec 08, 2015 Petra rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Koja je cijena sreće?

Zamislite Omelas, na prvi pogled idiličan gradić, prava utopija za svoje stanovnike koji su bezbrižni i sretni i imaju sve što im treba u životu.

Ali Omelas skriva mračnu tajnu. Njihovo bogatstvo izgrađeno je na tuđem siromaštvu, sreća na tuđoj patnji. Da bi bili sretni moraju zatvoriti oči pred tom cijenom, jer ipak što je patnja pojedinca ako je rezultat sreća mnogih? A i bez patnje nema ni sreće.

Stoga se većina pomiri s tom neugodnom činjenicom i ostane živjeti sretno u O
...more
Ellie [The Empress]
Jun 02, 2015 Ellie [The Empress] rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone. Enjoying philosophical and moral questions/stories
Recommended to Ellie [The Empress] by: Michele
I listened to this short story on Youtube and the end of it brought tears to my eyes.

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) Maybe you think you wouldn't. I hope I wou
...more
Cat
Oct 19, 2015 Cat rated it really liked it
I've never felt totally immersed in an Ursula Le Guin story, fully absorbed in the narrative, turning pages unable to put it down - even though I enjoyed all her work. She is an exceptional writer but sometimes I feel there's a distance between myself and the story, if that makes any sense.

But, boy, does she make you think. I have yet to read a work of hers that isn't thought-provoking, challenging, brutally honest. She is a writer who deeply plumbs the depths of human nature and society and bri
...more
Oni
Sep 10, 2013 Oni rated it it was amazing
Again, Ursula Le Guin strikes directly to the core, in just several pages. I get a reference to this short story after reading utilitarianism section in Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do?. It is one of the harshest critics against utilitarianism. It really shows the power of literature in the world of ideas. Le Guin manages to do more than many other philosophers.

Reading this short story really makes me uneasy. I myself am a proponent of utilitarianism (the Mill variant, not the Bentham). Ev
...more
Imani
Mar 23, 2016 Imani rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I read this short story in high school and have reread it once or twice since then. It is a very short story that I'm sure anyone could find online. It left a strong impression on me. I know it's one of those stories I'll never be able to forget. I feel like it was basically one of the first early stories that go under the "dystopian" genre though no one knew how to label it at the time.

It's about a world called Omelas that's perfect and beautiful and plentiful. The price for this perfection i
...more
Ivan Lutz
Mar 19, 2015 Ivan Lutz rated it it was amazing
Sigurno jedna od najboljih stvari ikada napisanih, ne samo u žanru nego i uopće. Citiram neke djelove priče svako malo, razmišljam o svim tim ljudima što ostaju, ali ipak češće o onima što napuštaju Omelas... Dugo sam brinuo o tome, što ako se nešto dogodi pa ostanem, no, kako vrijeme odmiče, siguran sam da bih napustio Omelas, ne bih mogao gledati dijete i patnju,ali opet.. ako odem, kako bi ga pokušao spasiti? Tko bi ga spasio? Može li se spasiti ako ga napustimo?
Kakva priča!!!

"Svi znaju u Om
...more
Allison Barnes
I'm in the middle of a Utopia/dystopia theme with my students, so we've been reading a lot of books where society is supposedly perfect, but there are horrifying things going on behind the scenes (we've covered The Giver, Fahrenheit 451, and The Lottery so far). It's interesting to pose questions at the beginning about equality, a perfect society, etc. and gauge their responses before and after reading.
This story is haunting - (view spoiler)
...more
Liz Janet
Jan 20, 2016 Liz Janet rated it it was amazing
What would you give for happiness? Will you risk someone else's for yours? Does the happiness of the many outweigh the happiness of the few?

“Night falls; the traveler must pass down village streets, between the houses with yellow-lit windows, and on out into the darkness of the fields. Each alone, they go west or north, towards the mountains. They go on. They leave Omelas, they walk ahead into the darkness, and they do not come back. The place they go towards is a place even less imaginable to
...more
Delmy ☆゚. * ・ 。゚Too busy reading to make pancakes☆゚. * ・ 。゚
ok, I might be a naive person and yeah, sometimes people will suffer unnecessarily but to say that its a cold fact of life that some will suffer and there's nothing to do about it, is complete utter crap. maybe I'm an anarchist at heart, I believe that the suffering of ONE child is not a compromise that should be made EVER. The thing we forget, is we could all live in well means. There is an imbalance of power, of wealth, of health. How can ANYONE justify denying anyone health care, water, food? ...more
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What's The Name o...: SOLVED. About a sad boy [s] 4 34 Nov 01, 2014 08:40PM  
Chaos Reading: The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas 32 224 Jun 27, 2014 10:40AM  
Dystopia Land: Shrot Story: The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas by Ursula K. Le Guin 26 56 Feb 28, 2014 05:26AM  
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As of 2013, Ursula K. Le Guin has published twenty-two novels, eleven volumes of short stories, four collections of essays, twelve books for children, six volumes of poetry and four of translation, and has received many awards: Hugo, Nebula, National Book Award, PEN-Malamud, etc. Her recent publications include the novel Lavinia, an essay collection, Cheek by Jowl, and The Wild Girls. Forthcoming ...more
More about Ursula K. Le Guin...

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“The trouble is that we have a bad habit, encouraged by pedants and sophisticates, of considering happiness as something rather stupid. Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting. This is the treason of the artist; a refusal to admit the banality of evil and the terrible boredom of pain.” 477 likes
“This is the treason of the artist: a refusal to admit the banality of evil and the terrible boredom of pain.” 18 likes
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