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"It" Holds The Key To Omelas' Happiness

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In Ursula K. Le Guin's story "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas," we are presented with the setting that is described as a guilt free society that is full of happiness and freedom. The author describes this city of Omelas in such a way that makes one want to go and visit this city and be apart of this festive and joyous atmosphere. One might even find it very ironic that the author asks the reader whether or not "you accept the festival, the city, the joy?" I felt that my initial reaction would be of course, until I am then presented with the sacrifice of a child for the happiness and freedom of Omelas. Sadly, the suffering of this child is the deep dark secret that lies behind the happiness and guilt free society of Omelas.

This poor innocent child, only referred to as "It", is locked in a room where "it" suffers and ironically experiences no happiness, no love, no freedom and is a symbol of the city's happiness. This city revolves around happiness and feels no guilt, despite the fact that they are aware of the child that is sacrificed for their happiness. There was a time when the child was free and able to talk and be amongst society but then is soon locked up and used as a scapegoat. This child served as a way to hide the city's guilt or even as a way to distract the city away from the real causes of this child's suffering. This child being sacrificed gave me the impression that the child was the primary need for the survival of Omelas. If one was to question the conditions that this child was living in, they would only be reprimanded and reminded that their happiness lies solely upon the sacrifice of the child. As a reader, I might start to ask how any mother or father could allow their child to live through such horrendous conditions. What if the parents see this as a positive thing? The parents might even see this as an honor that their child is what lies behind the city's happiness



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