Monday, January 09, 2006

The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas - Ursula K. Le. Guin (January/06)

Sometimes when I read a short story or an article for school that I enjoy, I include it in my reading numbers. It only happens from time to time, but there was something in this short piece by Ursula K. Le Guin that caught my eye. It is called "The Ones that Walk Away from Omelas". A very short little story, I believe it is part of a larger collection, but I am reading it online. I had to read for my fantasy English class, and I am glad that I did.

It is about a town called Omelas, a what would appear to be Utopian town. The people are always merry, they do not have any of what people in our society call "sins", and generally live in harmony with one another. The horses were happy to race, the race is one of the scenes that the author uses to show the tranquility of the people. There is no King, it seems to be a town of such perfection that the people are able to get by without leadership. They have no need to rebell. They do not have slaves and they are not barbaric, they are also not simple people. They have the things that they need to get by.

Le Guin has the narrator compare this society to ours, saying that we can not understand it because we look on happiness as stupid. There is one good quote in this piece that I feel I must point out. At one point the narrator says "... to praise despair is to condemn delight, to embrace violence is to lose hold of everything else." Isn't that just so true, though? Especially in this society where wars are fight, people are killed, lives are destroyed. We truly do not know what it is to be happy.

Even in this perfect society, though, there is still what we would deem inperfection. In order for this society to stay as it is a six-year-old child is treated cruelly. In return for the perservation of many, one child is forced to live without a cruel word. Even the most perfect has its secrets.


  1. Hey, I'm now a grad student at Clemson University, but I read "The Ones Who Walk Away..." as an undergrad and loved it. I am trying to find a printable copy of it on the web but have found no luck. Do you have any comments on where I might be able to find it onling or anything else that could help me. p.s. I had to start a blog just so I could E-mail you. so if you decide to go to it, there will be nothing there

  2. Anonymous9:29 PM

    Yes, David, if you go to this link, you can print a free copy.


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