Individual vs Society
The utopian city of Omelas relies on a social contract according to which each person must accept that their city’s happiness depends on the suffering of one child. Those who cannot come to terms with the child’s suffering leave the city alone on foot, their destination a mystery. The story therefore presents a classic utilitarian problem: is it morally justifiable to inflict suffering on one person in the service of others’ happiness? In weighing…read analysis of Individual vs Society
Coming of Age and Coming into Society
The city of Omelas practices a coming of age ritual in which every child, at some point between the ages of eight and twelve, must learn that the happiness of their city depends on the suffering of one abused and neglected child. The town’s children have the choice to accept the suffering of this child and continue living their happy lives, or to walk, alone, out of the city forever. This moral choice marks…read analysis of Coming of Age and Coming into Society
Happiness and Suffering
“The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” posits that there can be no happiness without suffering. Even in her imagined city of perfect happiness, LeGuin insists that one child must suffer extreme neglect and torture so the other citizens may experience joy.
The fundamental condition of life in Omelas is that, in order for society to be happy, the child must suffer without reprieve. The price of happiness, in other words, is suffering, and without…read analysis of Happiness and Suffering