What is mood or tone of "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas"?

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mrs-campbell eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The narration of this story is very interesting; the narrator speaks of the city in very broad generalities.  He leaves many of the details up to the imagination of the reader.  He gives the basic outline of the city and the people, but not the up-close distinctions, instead leaving the reader to fill in details "as you like it."  This makes the mood of the story very ponderous, very calm and serene, and pleasantly unintimidating.  This is why when the abused child is introduced, it is even more shocking-this contrast with the idealistic, happy, make-it-what-you-want-it-to-be type of storyline is jolting, just as the child is meant to be jolting to that society.  The mood, once the child is introduced, becomes more serious and melancholy, but is still distanced and calm.  The narrator makes no judgments, just states things as the people of Omelas see it:  To release the child from its torture would be "To exchange all the goodness and grace of every life in Omelas for that single, small improvement: to throw away the happiness of thousands for the chance of the happiness of one: that would be to let guilt within the walls indeed."

The overall calm, ponderous, thoughtful, and distanced mood of the narrator helps increase the philosophical impact of the story; this helps, since the implications of this story are quite significant.

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The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas

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