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The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas

When studying about Utopia, I believe that students should be required to read literature that embodies the full aspects of an ideal Utopian society. When writing his composition, Utopia (1516), Sir Thomas Moore envisioned this place as an ideal community with moral citizens, no war, and containing a fair, just government allowing political and social perfection. “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” is a warped version of this visionary Utopia, so I do not think it is a good reading to be used as a primary example. A society that is willing to torture an innocent young boy, spends its time riding horses naked instead of establishing a reasonable government, and has no desire to advance their lives or their technology, does not exemplify the true meaning of an ideal society. Omelas is a peaceful group of uncivilized people, but it is not a Utopian community. A more appropriate reading should be required for students in my grade that embodies a morally civilized version of Utopia.

The citizens of Omelas have chosen a young boy that they hold captive as a spectacle of torture in order to motivate their society to remain peaceful. The Omelasians believe that this is necessary for them to coexist happily. This is definitely not a characteristic of Utopia, and it even shocks some people into leaving the community. The torturing of children is not something to be found in an ideal society, where everyone should be treated equally with natural rights given to them. Utopia is largely based on the idea of social perfection, therefore this aspect of torture in Omelas does not exemplify a Utopian society.

The Omelasian lifestyle is that of uncivilized behavior, with the citizens spending their time frolicking around naked and riding horses instead of contributing to the advancement of their society. In Omelas, the people do not really have a form of government, and their only main job is to survive. Utopian societies are greatly characterized by a perfect, fair government with moral citizens. The Omelasians do not show any civilized morals, and they are basically free to do what they please, as long as it does not disrupt the peace in the community. This lack of moral structure indicates another reason why Omelas is not a good example of a Utopian society.

Omelas is aware of the new technologies in other parts of the world, but they choose not to better their own society by adopting these advancements, and are instead living like primitive cave people. The Omelasians are not motivated to further their knowledge, and education is not a priority to them. They are satisfied with doing nothing to better their lives. A Utopian society is filled with people who contribute to the wellbeing of their community, and are always desiring to advance their way of life. In a perfect society, the citizens would want to enhance their living conditions and better their technologies. The desire of citizens to create an overall perfect community is an important fundamental aspect of creating a true Utopia, but the people of Omelas clearly do not exemplify this.

“The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” describes a primitive society that is far from a Utopia. The characteristics that are shown from the people and the organization of Omelas do not relate to a Utopian community. In Utopia, the social and political aspects are morally perfect, with ideal citizens who strive to continually better their community, and peace is kept without the torture of children. Omelas does not exemplify any of the fundamental things that a Utopia is composed of, and therefore I do not think this reading should be required for students studying this subject.



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This article has 5 comments. Post your own!

Amaya said...
Mar. 12, 2013 at 9:52 pm:
Le Guin stated on page 244, line 4 that if Omelas does not strike your ideal, then change what is in the city; she even suggests for you to see an orgy if thats what you imagine to be a perfect society. She used the beginninng examples because those are the most common characteristics of a perfect, fairy-tale like place (a utopia).
 
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welly said...
Oct. 2, 2011 at 7:20 pm:

The people of Omelas do whatever they want and everyone is happy.. What part of that is not a perfect society? A government is meaningless at that point.

Also, you missed the point, buddy. 

 
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freedom160 said...
Jun. 27, 2011 at 10:07 am:
I agree...you've missed the entire point of the story.  Reread it.
 
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td92 said...
Mar. 4, 2011 at 12:00 pm:
your use of "uncivilized" to describe the people of Omelas shows that either you did not properly read the story, or perhaps that you need to reevaluate your definition of the word.  the author explicitly says that the society is not primitive in the biased way that people from Western civilizations often define the word. 
 
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lucysunshine said...
Nov. 22, 2010 at 7:40 pm:
i dont think u understand the true message behind the story
 
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