Iannini comments that he would free the child. Does this seem to be a solution? Is it one that LeGuin offers?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I think that the critical issue here is the idea that of how individuals address the condition of inequality of power that exists in social orders.  Iannini suggests that he would free the child on a couple of grounds. The first would be his argument that he would free the child and be wiling to "lessen the happiness of the people of Omelas."  While this is a good tactical move, it is one that I think LeGuin repudiates to a certain extent as she suggests that the liberation of the child will destroy Omelas entirely because of the precept of guilt that would enter the land.  In a setting constructed entirely on the basis of the absence of guilt, to introduce it would destroy what is present.  Iannini also suggests that the premise of Omelas being a utopia would justify freeing the child because, by definition, utopias are not real.  I think that this might have to be amended, a bit.  The issue of a utopia might not be driving LeGuin's analysis here as much as the condition of how individual happiness can exist if it is predicated upon the suffering of others.  Iannini uses the example of a McDonalds, where individuals receive "happiness" for purchase of fast food at the cost of another, the workers.  I think that this might not be as appropriate as thinking of industrialization and the rise of the upper class at the cost of the underclass.  Industrialization in the modern setting is one where individuals are able to procure great and vast amounts of wealth, often coming at the cost of others.  The question here is whether or not this can be morally, politically, or socially available in a setting where human happiness is seen as the ultimate good.  Finally, there is the question of walking away, something that Iannini sees as continuation of the problem.  While there is enough evidence to support this, there might be a larger issue present.  The act of "walking away" in the story might be more of an allegory to those who rationalize away the condition of those who are impoverished.  It is much easier to liberate the child that is being targeted.  The idea of "walking away" is selfish makes the assumption that it is one action that is needed.  In liberating the child, Iannini does not entirely account for what to do for this child upon their liberation.  The only life they know is one where there has been targeting and isolation.  How can one simply "give" freedom without fully accounting for what quality of life has to be given to those in such a predicament?  Additionally, what if the one child becomes translated to millions?  How can one effectively argue that the choice is to either do something, representing courage, or "walking away" as being cowardice?  There might be a bit more complex to the setting outside of a simple binary distinction being posed here.

onlytoofar's profile pic

onlytoofar | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted on

Thats what my instinctcts told me but the teacher reiterated that that aspect of the story was the "Gordian knot" of the laws of the universe of omelas.Besides this the story has no signs or dividing lines or constricting social more's to apply.I believe we each are all of the characters at some point .I think the author intended for you to do what your doing, namely,thinking for ourselves.Anyway humans way too often don't free the children within them or those in the "physical" in reality.(just musing) thanx  peacehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2wvJUZYQ7o&feature=PlayList&p=45F2A4752140904B&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=12

rymister104's profile pic

rymister104 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

The happiness of the entire city depends on the child's suffering. If you say you would free the child you have missed the point entirely. Not to mention, the townspeople would probably stop you or replace the child (which must be done at certain intervals anyway).

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apiannini | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

I don't think LeGuin offers the choice, but the choice exists nonetheless because it is possible and what is imaginable is possible. It is a solution that points to the justice in the redistribution of suffering.

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