illustration of a young boy in a cage in the center with lines connecting the boys cage to images of happy people and flowers

The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas

by Ursula K. Le Guin

Start Free Trial

Think of who the child in "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" could represent in our society, and then think about what justifications we use to explain it.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

A parallel could be drawn between the child in Omelas and the existence of extreme poverty in the midst of wealth that is a hallmark of Western societies.

It is often the case that people will try to justify such poverty on the grounds that the poor are largely responsible for their own condition in lifeā€”that their poverty is a sign of laziness or moral weakness.

Some try to justify the persistence of inequality as a necessary precondition of prosperity. They argue that it is only because we allow a handful of people to get fantastically rich that the economy as a whole is able to create job opportunities, which will ultimately benefit the poor.

Even if that is the case, there will always be poor people in Western societies, not least because some measure of exploitation is unavoidable under a capitalist system. By the same token, Omelas, if it is is to continue to function as a society, needs to have an abused child to exploit.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team