The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas

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The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas


Fear plays a very important role in Ursula K. Le Guin's short story "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" as it pertains to the story's main theme of the collective's needs and wants being more important than that of an individual. Fear helps to develop the plot as well in that it functions as hidden ripple in the perfection of Omelas because how can a person or group of persons be perfect when they still fear things. It also plays a key role in helping to develop the story's sub themes of the importance of preserving paradise and how easy it is to dehumanize someone when it is beneficial to yourself as well as the need to dehumanize the child in order to succeed in the child's isolation without opposition from citizens.


With relation to the story's central theme of the collective's needs and wants being more important than that of an individual, fear functions as a constant reason not to doubt tradition. The people who live in Omelas are living in a seemingly utopian society with gay festivals free of civil strife or unhappiness. Yet as Le Guin delves deeper into the story of the little town of Omelas a small child is discovered that is supposedly responsible for all the happiness in the town. Through depriving the child of all but the bare necessities of life the tranquil towns flourishes. Somehow the people of Omelas believe that keeping this child isolated from society and in perpetual suffering keeps the town in its entire utopian splendour.

Fear functions as the reason that people do not help the child. The fear of losing their perfect world is much too great to risk losing it for one individual. The people of Omelas tend to make excuses for keeping the child in the small room they say it's too late and the child could not function in society anyways and that "It has been afraid too long ever to be free of fear". (Knapp, 75-81.) This is truer of the people of Omelas than it is of the child. The people of the town have been afraid for so long of what would happen upon release of the child that it would be impossible to cease the tradition without garnering many false reactions. The collective's fear of what may or may not occur in the town leaves the innocent individual without reprieve from its hell locked in a closet without even a kind word. (Le Guin, 12)

One of the sub themes of the story is the importance of preserving paradise. The people of Omelas are motivated by the fear of losing their paradise. What led them to the decision of placing the child in the small room is not apparent, what keeps the child in the closet however is, fear of pain, fear of suffering, fear of everything that is not perfect in the world. The child's torture is not kept secret from the people of Omelas ...
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