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The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas
“The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” (pdf) is a short story written in 1973 by Ursula K. Le Guin.

“The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” is the story of a Utopian society. The author, Ursula Le Guinn, uses extensive imagery in describing the beautiful scenery of Omelas to emphasize her theme of choice and what people will let go in order to be happy.

The story opens as the celebration of the Festival of Summer is getting underway in the city of Omelas. There is an air of genuine excitement about the festival, with its flag-adorned boats, prancing horses, and “great joyous clanging of the bells.” All seems happy and bright and perfect. But the welfare of this society depends on the misery and mistreatment of a small child who is locked in a room.

Although all of the citizens of Omelas are aware of the child’s situation, most of them accept that their happiness is dependent on this particular child’s “abominable misery.” Sometimes, however, a few people, after visiting the child and seeing the horrible conditions under which it lives, leave Omelas forever. In her short story, Le Guinn invites the reader to become the main character and places the choice on them as well.


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