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?