See especially, his short story, In the Penal Colony, which I reviewed. Certainly the remaining people perpetuate the suffering by staying and not speaking to the child. In our society, we view this child as something to pity. Children learn the terrible fact between eight and twelve, and no matter how well their parents explain and justify it in advance, the new discovery is sickening and angering 5. This opening description of Omelas is crucial in establishing the stakes of the story.
Sometimes citizens decide to reject the terms of life in Omelas—something they can only do by leaving the city, alone, in total silence. It ensures neither its comfort nor release. No king here, no slaves, no secret police. Who locked the children away? Another scenario could be that it was always meant to end when the child was gone. We have ethical dilemmas in the real world that are similar yet more murky, such as euthanasia for the hopelessly ill and elderly, triaging in disasters and on the battleground not every limb, person, or finger can be saved , and wars that are supposably1 fought for the good of the world, but result in millions of deaths and injuries. Her story, like all good science fiction, creates a world that is like ours but not, and then forces us to confront how similar the two worlds are.
In the story, the breathtaking seaside city of Omelas is celebrating its summer festival. This invites the reader to examine their expectations for happiness in their own society, and encourages the reader to allegorize Omelas. Without knowing it the people in Omelas are being controlled by those in authority. When they leave they don't even go home. In this case it is a story which stays with the reader because it poses an ethical quandary - even a conundrum.
Or you can walk away. If it hurts, repeat it. Just as many Nations are years apart, or growing more apart is the story of Omelas. But that's their choice, and their sense of morality and ethics that dictates their actions. The place they go towards is a place even less imaginable to most of us than the city of happiness.
Neither Le Guin nor James, however, would necessarily applaud the members who choose to leave this community, for to do so, would not change the status of the suffering child. Are we ignoring them, concerned only with our own happiness? But people who commit suicide seem to have a feeling that they somehow know what afterlife is. Some were decorous: old people in long stiff robes of mauve and grey, grave master workmen, quiet, merry women carrying their babies and chatting as they walked. This excellent short story has become famous as one of choice and morality. Is it only the suffering of innocent childhood then that makes us appalled? At one point the narrator decides to spout off characteristics of the citizens and the city that are only thought to be truth. The child desperately wants to be released, and begs its visitors for help.
Here the land of the dead is a terrible place because humans tried to conquer death by sorcery. But there is one catch: Omelas exists as it does because one child is locked up in a basement room, suffering. Le Guin cites two literary precedents for her inspiration in writing this story. They may convince themselves that what they are doing is perfectly fine, and that they will not suffer the consequences. The sense of victory, surely, the celebration of courage. I would consider it, or will, rather. Nobody knows where they go, but some do silently walk away from Omelas.
My problem with the whole story of Omelas is that it suppose to be a Utopian city under no government. Can we know pleasure without experiencing pain, satiety without hunger, happiness without sorrow? I have really enjoyed reading what everyone has to say. B: Why parse it out to degrees? I cannot describe it at all. And now, like the author did when she wrote this story, I ask: are you one to comply to the current system in the world, or are you one to actively and blatantly reject it? Some of them have come to see it, others are content merely to know it is there. I would not feel so outraged should it all happen to an adult. It's more because that all these people, they are fully aware that the child is there.
The child only sits, bereft, all skin and bones, feeble-minded, neglected, with only a bucket and two mops for company. One that it likes to keep hidden away from others. O l'impossibilità è una menzogna nostra per tornare, belli comodi, a vivere nella luce? Of course, the very open-endedness of the scenario allows for it to be applied to as many specific situations as people can find it fit to do. Le Guin refers to the Ones, stressing their plurality and individuality at once. The child in her story represents our hidden problems, weaknesses and even possibly other horrible things that we do not like to think about or acknowledge about ourselves.