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Le Guin, Essay Example

Pages: 1

Words: 1253

Essay

Although the story “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” is fiction, it is based on how people really act and make decisions in real life. The author uses the story to make comments on how people are and how human nature is naturally terrible. Most of the people who live in the town of Omelas decide to give in to their evil nature, but others notice terrible acts and decide to walk away from town. Because of this, the people that walk away from the town can be said to be good, while the people that don’t walk away from the town are evil. To tell the story, the author uses many features that are used in dystopian literature. These story elements help emphasize the fight between good and evil that is the focus of the story.

The author describes the town of Omelas to make it seem perfect. But, the reader is thrown for a surprise when they read about a coming of age exercise that the town uses on its citizens. When the citizens come of age, they are told about a child that must be kept in a disgusting condition and be sad for all of the other people town to be happy. Being told about this child is symbolic of the character of the person. Many of the people in the town hear about the child and decide to go on living without caring about what they had seen. Other people are upset by this and leave the town. The people who stay in the town are evil because they care more about themselves than the child, while the people who leave the town are good because they know that it isn’t right to be happy if it means one other person being not happy.

Although this story seems to be unique, the author, Le Guin, uses elements that many other dystopian stories use. The most important element that fits into this category is the use of the concept of utilitarianism as justification for the way that people make decisions. Utilitarianism is a philosophy that states that ethical decisions are the ones that benefit the greatest amount of people. This is a way of balancing good against evil and deciding what decisions should be made because of this. In the story, more people are experiencing good than bad because only one child needs to be abused in order for everyone to be happy. Therefore, this requirement of a dystopian story is met and it is an important point in the plot.

A way that this story is not dystopian is that the moral of the story is that it is necessary to compare good and evil in more ways than just one. In most dystopian stories, utilitarian ethics is the decision that is always right. In this story, we are reminded by the people that walk away from Omelas that just because a decision helps the most people doesn’t mean that it is the moral one. It raises the question as to whether any suffering is moral and whether the people in Omelas would be happy, but less happy, without the child being hurt. This is an important separation from dystopian stories because it is the main point of the story. Morality can be decided in many different ways. In this story, more people decide that utilitarianism is best because it will make them happy. However, the people that walk away from the town do so knowing that it is not right to hurt the child and they are not willing to take part in it. Therefore, they believe that if something that people do actively hurt another person is wrong, and they would rather face the uncertainty of leaving the perfect town than being a part of it.

There is no morality in allowing a child to suffer for other people to benefit, especially if the child did nothing to deserve that kind of treatment. The child did nothing bad so it should not be punished as if it had done something bad. Even though some of the townspeople that see the child think that it is wrong to keep the child like that, they decide to stay in the town because they are happy there. This is typical of a dystopian society because the aspects of the society that are perfect are because of the pain of another. Because the people living in the town are used to living a happy and perfect live, they do not know what will happen if they decide to help the child or to walk away from the town. This is an example of human nature that is bad because people allow other people to encourage how they act. Since most people in the town decide to stay in the town, a majority of the people that are coming of age decided to as well. Also, the child in pain is a weird concept to them because in this perfect town they are never hurt. Because of this, they are not able to truly understand pain. The people who leave the town are ones with compassion and are able to understand the pain even though they have never experience pain themselves.

In conclusion “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” is mainly about how humans act and make decisions in real life. It is about good versus evil and the good people choose to leave the town because they can’t stand to see the child in pain while the good stay because they are happy in the town. The author uses factors that are common in dystopian stories but she also uses some that are not. The common factors are the use of utilitarianism to justify action and the pain of one person to make other people happy. The uncommon ones are that there are other ways to judge morality. This story teaches a good lesson to people because it is important to think about what is moral carefully before taking action.

In this essay I mainly tried to consider how the story could be viewed in the context of dystopian literature. One of the main interesting aspects of this story is that it is both utopian and dystopian at the same time. In this essay I spent much of my time considering issues related to morality, and how any utopian world would be measured in terms of morality. Just like all of the writing projects I produced in this course, I did not get as close to meeting the requirements of the prompt as I should have, mainly because I did not have a complete understanding of what I was supposed to be doing.

If I was going to rewrite this paper now, I would focus more on how the author presented her ideas, instead of the ideas themselves. Like any write, LeGuin had to make choices about how to present her ideas. Some writers may have presented a dystopian world by describing it in very dark, grim terms. LeGuin chose to present her ideas in what I can only describe as a “happy” manner, at least until the story reached the point where the child was introduced. At that point it become clear that there is a dark side to the utopia we first see in the story. By revealing it in that way, the author’s rhetoric forces readers to consider her ideas in a way that would be very different if she had chosen a more conventional approach to writing about a dystopian world.

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