City of Omelas

Justin Campbell Professor J. Eastman English 102, Tues and Thur 5:00 Essay 3 11 March 2010 The Wonderful World of Omelas The city of Omelas is a city compared to heaven, but in reality, it is more like hell. The Festival of Summer paints a perfect picture of a city of happiness with an air of excitement, characterized by boisterous running children, prancing horses and flag-adorned boats. The mere reason all the people in the small town are so happy is because this one adolescent child is taking all the weight. The Child” is an independent and significant character in the short story, “The Ones Who Walk Away From the Omelas” because he is sacrificial, lived in despair for others happiness and spent much of his life in fear. He lived in an extremely small area with none of the necessities that are important to basic survival. His appearance suggests the child to be about six; however, he was actually ten years old. The story of this utopia of a city and the boy show great symbolism and is a lot more in depth than one may think. This child can be compared to Jesus because they both did something sacrificial.

Just as Jesus died on the cross to cleanse people of their sins, this child suffered so that the others of the town could live a guilt free life. Jesus is an example of a martyr, which is a person who willingly suffers death rather than renounces his or her religion. Not only did he suffer pain and humiliation, but Jesus sacrificed His is life for who He claimed himself to be. However, the child is a scapegoat, meaning he bearded the blame for others or suffered in their place. The child sacrificed his life for the other people’s happiness.

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He also called out, “I will be good, please let me out (Le Guin 325). ” That is a huge weight to bear, especially for a young child. In Omelas, the one emotion citizens are not allowed to feel is guilt. The people of the city believe that someone has to take the burden and it is the child. He is living in horrible conditions such as: damp cellar dirt, putrid mops, malnutrition, no sunlight, one locked door and sitting in his own human wastes. The child has not always lived in the tool room. He can remember the sunlight, that he can now only see approaching through cracks, and he recalls his mother’s voice.

He not only lives in such despair for the people’s happiness, but also for the city’s prosperity. Every now and then, mothers or fathers will bring their children to see the child. Many people who come to see him either fall silent for a few days, or just leave the city of Omelas. Not everyone can live with knowing that they are living such a fantastic and guilt free life, while that one child is living and treated the way that he is. Others still manage to live with seeing such horror and continue on with their day to day lives. Living in such anguish can only result in one reaction, and that is fear.

Every child would despise sitting or getting locked up in a dark, enclosed room. Having the only contact with others being adults and children coming to look at him and not say a single word would make anyone feel scared. There had to be emotional issues that the child suffered from as a result of being locked up alone without interaction with others, such as feeble-minded and communication issues. Having basic necessities withheld such as food or only allowed a small portion of food disrupts the normal growth of a child. The natural response to what he has suffered is fear.

It is nobody’s right to decide how and when to end a life, just as deciding to torment a child for the good of others. Then, others would argue this could be considered similar to conditions during times of war; such as shooting a plane down knowing there are innocent people on board who will die to protect the lives and freedom of others. The child is sacrificial, lamb who lived in despair for others happiness and spent much of his life in fear. This child’s life was sacrificed for the happiness and prosperity of the people in the town.

His time spent in the tool room was a time lived in fear who may come and kick him and fear of the mops and bucket. When confronted with horror such as this, looking to the inner self will help in deciding what is the right thing to do. That may have been why some people left the town after seeing the child. It is possible they were unable to live with themselves after actually witnessing the atrocity.

Work Cited Ursula K. Le Guin. “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omeals” Perrine’s Literature Structure, Sound, and Sense. 10th ed. Ed. Thomas R. Arp and Greg Johnson. Boston, MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2009. 725. Print.

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