What is the significance of the title in relation to the rest of the story?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The title of LeGuin's work brings out the fundamental idea of how those who are aware of what is happening in Omelas react to it.  From this point, the title brings out much in way of assessing what their reaction is.  On one hand, the title of the work brings to light that there are some people who are aware of what is happening and cannot remain a party to it.  In doing so, more questions are brought out about what such a reaction means.  There is a rejection of the oppressive elements of Omelas, but there is also a withdrawal, a disengagement from any hope of social change.  Those who walk away from Omelas do so in a setting where the child's suffering does not change, and rather their own sense of guilt might be assuaged.  In focusing the title on those who walk away, LeGuin is forcing the reader to examine their own predispositions towards inequality, social injustice, and oppression in their own societies.  The title is not one that focuses on these elements, but rather drives home the idea that it is the human response to such conditions that end up defining what hope for transformation lies in our societies.

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