How does the narrator feel about the fact that the citizens of Omelas' happiness depends on the misery of the child?

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Part of what makes the narrative style of Le Guin's work so powerful is that the narrator's exact judgment is not as present to cloud the reader's own understanding of Omelas.  The narrator is one that points out the celebratory and almost triumphant nature of Omelas.  When the narrator struggles to "describe" Omelas "better," it is a moment where one faintly grasps at the joy that exists in Omelas.  The description of the child is in distinct terms, and the struggle to articulate the emotional condition of those who walk away from Omelas is reflective of the moral ambiguity that results at seeing the child as well as understanding the moral culpability of those who walk away.  The narrator does not really place anything in terms of moral blame on the social order of the society in Omelas.  Instead, the narrator leaves it more along the lines of the reader to assess the feelings towards the society of Omelas.  In doing this, the narrator is able to construct a setting in which the reader is unable to clearly demarcate what is appropriate or what isn't.  In the end, the reader has to assess what is more important for them, and through this, a moral judgment can be made.  The narrator's absent of judgment is what enables the reader's to emerge, and within this lies part of the greatness of the story.

Read the study guide:
The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question