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Book Notes: The ones who walked away from Omelas

A short story about a utopian city whose happiness depends on the suffering of a single child locked in a closet alone. Author wrote to deliberately reflect reality.

We are all playing the game of life, living by the rules of a capitalist society. Can you accept the happiness of your life if you knew that your ‘happiness’ came at the expense of those who suffer?

In the story, the young ones often are enraged and disgusted, but they learn to accept and even rationalise the suffering of that one child for the happiness of their own. At times some of these children do not weep or go home in rage, but simply leave Omelas.

To where? Perhaps that place they are are walking to does not exist, but they seem to know where they are going. Or are we all the ones locked in the closet, too stupid to know what life could be like outside of these walls?

Her closing words are sad, yet truthful: “Omelas already exists: no need to build it or choose it. We already live here – in the narrow, foul, dark prison we let our ignorance, fear, and hatred build for us and keep us in, here in the splendid, beautiful city of life. . . .”

Themes: self-awareness, definition of happiness, suffering, social equality