After reading "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas," discuss the people who walk away in terms of who they are, why the leave, and where they go.

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The people who walk away from Omelas are those individuals who cannot talk themselves into remaining members of this community, enjoying grace and happiness at the cost of the dignity and care of this one child.  Le Guin describes the people who "go home in tears or in a tearless rage" after seeing the child. She writes the following:

[They] begin to realize that even if the child could be released, it would not get much good of its freedom: a little vague pleasure of warmth and food, no doubt, but little more.  It is too degraded and imbecile to know any real joy.

In other words, most individuals who feel some outrage at the treatment of the child eventually succeed in justifying its continued abuse.  The narrator says that their tears for the child begin to dry when they understand reality, and they start to accept the awful justice of reality.  However, there are some few who do not do this.  Many do not go home, and some choose to leave home; they say nothing and they go alone.  "Each alone, they go west or north, towards the mountains."  These individuals cannot live with the knowledge that their happiness and the entire community's happiness is guaranteed by the child's abject misery.  The narrator says that "they seem to know where they are going," though we do not.  These are the individuals whose consciences will not allow them to continue on there.  They will not make the decision for the community and do not lecture their peers; they simply go, courageous enough to strike out on their own rather than allow their happy lives to be founded on another person's despair.

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The people who leave Omelas are citizens of the town who cannot accept that their happiness is based on the child's suffering.  

The people who leave Omleas are regular townspeople. They range from being "one of the adolescent girls or boys" to "a man or woman much older." They have seen the child whose suffering is the reason behind their happiness:

They know that if the wretched one were not there sniveling in the dark, the other one, the flute-player, could make no joyful music as the young riders line up in their beauty for the race in the sunlight of the first morning of summer.

The difference between these people and those who stay is that what they have seen has left a mark that cannot be washed away.

The narrator says these people simply leave. They have left because they know the truth about living in Omelas. They make no attempt to retrieve the child or fight for the child's rights.  Rather, the narrator says they simply "go out into the street, and walk down the street alone."  They leave the city, walking to an unknown place that is "ahead in the darkness and they do not come back."  Their destination is unclear.  However, the ones who walk away know where they are going, even if the narrator and us do not.

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