In "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" by Ursula K. LeGuin, how would you characterize the plot? Is it driven by suspense? Is it chronological? What else is significant?  

Expert Answers
Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is an unconventional story in terms of its structure. It begins in a conventional way with an unnamed narrator. The setting and general situation is introduced and exposition provides information about Omelas. As the story opens, a festival is underway; the mood is happy and celebratory. Happiness reigns in Omelas. The plot continues as a horse race is about to begin.

At this point, however, the traditional narrative structure ends as the story moves into greater exposition about Omelas. Le Guin introduces "the child" into the exposition., and the reader's horror grows as this child's misery is detailed and the terrible truth of happiness in Omelas is revealed. The remainder of the story explains that there are those who walk away from the town, unable to accept happiness founded on the suffering of the innocent, abused child imprisoned below the streets of their town.

The story can be viewed as a frame tale, a story within a story, but there is no closing frame. The end of the story does not bring the reader back to the horse race and finish that plot beginning. It simply ends. The primary story has been told and the theme achieved. What drives the story is the compiling of details, one after another, that make clear the evil in Omelas and the moral choice it demands of its citizens. The restrained, objective tone serves to accentuate the developing horror of why some must walk away from their town.

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The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas

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