What are the major themes of the story "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas?"

Expert Answers

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

"The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" is a deeply philosophical work, designed as a kind of thought experiment concerning moral philosophy.

This is a story that focuses on utopianism and its costs. As the story makes clear, Omelas itself is an imagined community. Each person will have a different impression of what Omelas actually entails (for each person's ideals will differ from one another). However, as we read further, we learn that this imagined utopia carries with it a heavy cost, as the collective happiness and well-being is founded upon the profound suffering of a child.

Here we enter into the crux of the thought experiment. What Le Guin asks in this story is this: if our ideal utopia is one based in an act of profound suffering, is that suffering justified by the collective happiness that it produces? Furthermore, if these are the terms of utopia, does participating in that utopia make us complicit in the act of cruelty against the child? These are questions that the citizens of...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 1081 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

Posted on

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

Posted on

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

Posted on