What type of dystopias are used in "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas"?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This brilliant short story posits a dystopian world that, to begin with at least, seems to be remarkably un-dystopian. We are presented with a world where everything seems to be happy and good, and where the people live in peace and harmony. However, and this is the major point of this story, this happiness and harmony is based on the incredible suffering of a child, who is neglected and abused. This is something that all the citizens of Omelas know about, as the text says:

They all know that it has to be there. Some of them understand why, and some do not, but they all understand tha ttheir happiness, the beauty of their city, the tenderness of their friendships, the health of their children, the wisdom of their scholars, the skill of their makers, even the abundance of their harvest and the kindly weathers of their skies, depend wholly on this child's abominable misery.

The dystopia of this excellent story is therefore build around this central concept: if perfect happiness is only achievable through one person's perfect unhappiness, is it a price worth paying? The title, and the way that it focuses on those who think this price is too high, shows the author's own bias. Thus the dystopia of this tale is one in which happiness is achieved for the many at the expense of the happiness of one individual.

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