Why does everyone in the city have to be aware of the existence of the child?

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The short story "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas" by Ursula K. Le Guin begins with a description of the joyous people of the city celebrating the Festival of Summer. The children are happy, and the adults are mature, intelligent, and passionate. The city has no royalty, clergy, or army, but it functions well, and the people are content without these things.

However, there is one sinister facet of the city that belies all of this joyous celebration. One child is locked away alone in a dirty room, lonely and neglected, and everyone is aware that the torture of this child is the key to the city's prosperity.

They all know it has to be there. Some of them understand why, and some do not, but they all understand that their happiness, the beauty of their city, the tenderness of their friendships, the health of their children, the wisdom of their scholars, the skill of their makers, even the abundance of their harvest and the kindly weathers of their skies, depend wholly upon this child's...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 887 words.)

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