What is the narrator's attitude toward "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" by Ursula K. Le Guin?

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For the majority of the short story, the narrator conveys a detached resignation to the bargain on which this society rests. The child who is held in captivity is described in factual, neutral terms:

It looks about six, but actually is nearly ten. It is feeble-minded. Perhaps it was born...

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For the majority of the short story, the narrator conveys a detached resignation to the bargain on which this society rests. The child who is held in captivity is described in factual, neutral terms:

It looks about six, but actually is nearly ten. It is feeble-minded. Perhaps it was born defective, or perhaps it has become imbecile through fear, malnutrition, and neglect. It picks its nose...as it sits hunched in the corner farthest from the bucket and the two mops. It is afraid of the mops. It finds them horrible. It shuts its eyes, but it knows the mops are still standing there; and the door is locked; and nobody will come.

There is no sense of outrage or compassion in this description. Instead, the narrator merely conveys the truth of the situation.

This detached approach is also taken when describing how the community benefits from the suffering of this one child:

If it were cleaned and fed and comforted, that would be a good thing, indeed; but if it were done, in that day and hour all the prosperity and beauty and delight of Omelas would wither and be destroyed. Those are the terms. 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 terms are strict and absolute; there may not even be a kind word spoken to the child.

Again, these are the facts. The narrator neither tries to defend the community's collective neglect of the child in exchange for their own happiness nor attempts to condemn them for inflicting unspeakable pain on an undeserving child. Instead, the narrator provides an explanation for why the community continues to engage in this abuse year after year: they do it to save their own "goodness and grace" and "beauty and delight." They find themselves more important as a collective whole than any one life individually.

However, as the narration approaches the end, there is a hint of a different tone as the narrator describes those people who learn of the child and decide to walk away from Omelas. This section begins with a statement: "But there is one more thing to tell, and this is quite incredible." It is the modifier of "incredible" that allows us to catch a glimpse of the narrator's thoughts. Each person leaves their community completely alone, and "they walk ahead into the darkness, and they do not come back." The narrator finds this journey into the unknown, into a place apart from the land of "happiness," an incredible choice. We therefore know that the narrator stands in awe of those who choose a different path, who are willing to leave behind their own guaranteed happiness, in order to take a stand against the abuse of an innocent child.

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Ursula K. Le Guin in her story “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” created a philosophical dilemma for the people of Omelas. Omelas is a utopian society that provides the perfect life for its citizen. What is the dilemma? The utopian society can only exist as long as a child is tortured and isolated.

The narration of the story is first person point of view.  The narrator not only tells the story unemotionally, but she asks the reader to provide what he thinks would happen in this kind of society.  This is before the reader is told about the child.  The narrator even inserts what she believes would be in this kind of city.

The narrator is an observer of the story not a character; yet, she is free to comment on the events and does not have to be objective.  From the narrator’s frame of reference, she is able to see the right and wrong of the people and the isolated child. The narrator does not tell the reader about the child until she has portrayed the wonders of this society.  The narrator offers an assortment of glimpses into these joyous people and their Festival of Summer, and then adds:

Do you believe? Do you accept the festival, the city, the joy? No? Then let me describe one more thing.

While a pathetic child sits hungry in a horrific environment, the Omelas continue on with their lives.  They know about the child, and accept it as a part of living in Omelas. The larger moral question is can a child be sacrificed for the sake of society. After sharing the child’s plight, the narrator asks this question of the reader: Are they not more credible? The people of Omelas have to learn to live with a terrible injustice in order to survive.

 A boundless and generous contentment, a magnanimous triumph felt not against some outer enemy but in communion with the finest and fairest in the souls of all men everywhere and the splendor of the world’s suAmmer: this is what swells in the hearts of the people of Omelas.

Nothing comes without a price.  The Omelas' price was one child.

After sharing the child’s plight, the narrator asks this question of the reader: Are they not more credible? The people of Omelas have to learn to live with a terrible injustice in order to survive.

There are a few who cannot live with the knowledge of the child particularly after going to see it.  Some of the youth and older people walk out of Omelas never to return.

In the beginning of the story the narrator states that it is difficult to describe the joy that is felt by the people of Omelas.  Later, after devulging the child’s story, she asks the reader how joyous is the city really.

How does one tell if something or someone is joyous?  In Omelas, most  are happy with their lives and have learned to accept things the way they are. However, others cannot accept these terms leave under what might be called suspicious circumstances since they are never heard from again.

Although the narrator does not actually state this to the reader, it is obvious she wants the reader to decide if he/she would be able to live in Omelas with the understanding that the child must be left to be malnourished; always in the dark; to never be touched or spoken to or comforted; to sit in its excrement because it has lost its sanity.  Could then the reader go to the summer festival to laugh and enjoy the day with the family?

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