37 pages 1 hour read

Ursula K. Le Guin

The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1973

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Essay Topics


Within the world Le Guin describes, the abandoned child is completely dehumanized, to the point of being referred to as "it" rather than "he" or "she." Looking at the story as a whole, however, the child is actually the only character who stands out as any kind of individual. Analyze the significance of this in terms of the novel's themes.


Thinking about the story's overall themes and symbolism, discuss the significance of the fact that those who leave Omelas do so "alone."


Le Guin writes at one point that "Happiness is based on a just discrimination of what is necessary, what is neither necessary nor destructive, and what is destructive." Discuss this statement in terms of the story's overall treatment of happiness. Do you think it ultimately holds true? Why or why not?