The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas as an Allegory

The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas is not classic science fiction as it does not present a probable catastrophic future which needs to be averted. It can however be read as an allegory of the world in which we live, where for the happiness of a greater number of people, some have to suffer. The happiness in our homes and cities rests on the exploitation of innocents somewhere else. In an interview in 2006, Le Guin told the critic Carl Freedman “I would not deny that utopia may always be based on atrocity – since all privileged lives are based on injustice, that would seem to indicate a possible rule.” The world we live in has deeply entrenched hierarchical structures of class, race, gender etc. The child in the closet living in its own filth, emaciated, miserable is symbolic of the marginalized people who live in similar conditions. Like the child they live in the underbelly of our bright, prosperous cities; and like the citizens of Omelas, we choose to pretend that they do not exist.

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