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Two Sides Of Happiness In The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas

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After reading “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” by Ursula K. Le Guin’s, one question that catches my eyes was that. What does the story reveal to us about our happiness as a society? In order to answer this question, we have too first understood what makes up the society that we are living today. This story tells the life of Omelas, the happiest and most beautiful city in the world, but the whole reason why this city makes people happy is to imprison an innocent child. So in the last part of the story, people choose to leave the city. In a faraway country, there is a place like Tao Yuanming’s peach garden; it is called Omelas. There are beautiful mountains and fresh air. There is no government, no army, no war, and no crime. No judges and no police. Precisely like the utopia world in our text.

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However, the city has an open secret: there is a basement under the castle in the center of the city. The door of the room was locked, and there was no Windows. There was a child in it, and no one did not know the child. However, no one did anything for him. Because the child’s suffering made the city happy, people knew that once he was released and fed and warmed, the splendor of the city would go up in smoke. Many adults know the child but do not look at it, instead of using it as a creative motivator or as a reminder of their conscience. Many children in the city went to see him in the basement. They were very excited and angry. However, if they showed sympathy for the child, the city would be destroyed. Many children grow up and act like other adults. However, a group of people, they went to see the child, saw the horror, and left. Instead of going home to Omelas, they went to a place we could not imagine. No one knew where it was, not even they. They just crossed the beautiful city gate of Omelas and started on the way out of Omelas.

The story has been treated as a classic critical examination of utilitarianism’s philosophical thought experiment. If you support the imprisonment of this child, then you are a utilitarian. This interpretation, like many other stories, is oversimplified and put into realistic philosophical thinking. It is absurd to apply a philosophical theory derived from a virtual story to reality. This story can be told without explanation. It can never be right. Of course, it can be said that the elements of this story symbolize real society. However, this is more of a literary association than a grim analogy. For example, some people understand that the children in this story represent sweatshops in third-world countries, and the citizens represent developed countries. The pair of analogies look similar, but they do not apply to each other at all. Because of the opposition to child imprisonment, the analogy is against sweatshops. It is not rigorous, especially now that we know that there are still many people who want to bring these factories back home. There are other stories like if you can kill one person and save nineteen others. There is no difference between constructing a theory from these fictional stories and thinking that killing someone in a game was murder.

In addition to these over-interpreted fictions, there are also good philosophical allegories like Plato’s cave, John Locke’s primitive society, and so on. There are two essential differences between these appropriate fables and the fictional stories that precede them. One is that these apposite allegories are all so abstract that they can be accepted as real, akin to mathematics. Those virtual stories try their best to make them concrete to appear real, but make them more and more false and special cases. No matter how detailed these stories are, no matter how precise the features are, it is impossible to think seriously about them. ‘It is never going to happen to me anyway,’ they think. Instead, no one thinks, ‘what is the big deal? I will never be in that cave. ‘

Another is the proper allegory for the figurative exposition of the theory that philosophers have constructed from reality. Like Plato’s cave was based on a more realistic ideal world, John Locke’s primitive society was based on people being born with these rights. If you do not agree with the premises, then the allegory is invalid. However, there are no such premises in these fictional stories, or they do not make sense anymore. These stories go in the opposite direction, creating a story and then constructing a theory based on that story. Moreover, judging people for and against the story. The best choice for philosophical thinking is not to use these fabled fables, but real cases and events.

When people treat Omelas as a philosophical fable, they ignore their literary value. Le Guin uses a unique narrative to create this story. He is neither a spectator with subjective and objective colors, nor a character in the story, but the creator of the city directly explains and introduces the city to the readers, just like selling a product. So he would directly defend the authenticity of the city, like in the story he says, does Omelas have a subway? If it makes citizens happy, of course, it does. The best quote from this story would be this:

‘The trouble is that we have a bad habit. Encouraged by peats and sophisticates of considering happiness as something rather stupid only pain is intellectual only evil interesting etc. ‘ This is for a lot of literary works perfect irony now; an evil character is the brilliant, good character is the naive false. Le Guin already knew that readers would use this tone to question the truth of the story, so he responded directly to those questions in the story. Sometimes the answer can come before the question.

Another exciting aspect of this story is that the citizens of Omelas are aware of the existence of this imprisoned child and his relationship to himself. As Le Guin explains, these are not people who have been brainwashed into naivety, but people who know these things wisely. Also, they still feel sorry for the child, which seems to contradict the story. Are not people in Omelas supposed to be happy? Why are you so sad now? However, if they were happy with the imprisoned child, they would hardly be called kind and happy, more like a gang of bandits who were sharing the spoils. This is very similar to the people in heaven will be sad to see hell, but this means that they are delighted in heaven. This kind of sympathy and sadness for the child is probably an essential part of the well-being of these citizens. Because they realize that their happiness comes at a price, not in vain, it was the child’s pain. Therefore, they will cherish the happiness they have now, instead of being greedy and indulgent. The same is true for many things in life. When people know the hardships behind many achievements, they will respect and cherish the people who make efforts for them.

By looking at the secondary source “The Talking Porcupine Liberates Utopia: Le Guin’s ‘Omelas’ as Pretext to the Dance” by Kenneth Roemer. There was a quote fascinating regarding the interpreter problem:

“To be sure, there are convincing alternative readings to the narrator’s invitational strategy. She could be accused of a blatant cop-out, an unwillingness to work out the details of Utopia; or she could be accused of cleverly implicating us in the creation of a Utopia that at first appears exciting and lovely but is actually rotten. ”

The quote strongly connection with our initial question is like our life, and there are always good and bad along the way. Every perfect city must have its dark side; no report of the negative side does not mean that the city was perfect. Like our society with the cause of something that you achieve a compliment is unreasonable.

Utilitarianism (also known as utilitarianism) derives from Bentham, whose central principle is to maximize happiness so that happiness, in general, outweighs the pain. When governments make policy on this basis, they do ‘whatever is necessary to maximize the happiness of the community as a whole. ‘ In the process of weighing the consequences of deciding whether to implement a policy, whether the visible economic gains and losses or the invisible individual feelings and even life, are converted into a single monetary value. The policy was considered enforceable if the benefits outweigh the disadvantages. Obviously, in this case, the individual was in a very disadvantaged position and his rights may be neglected or trampled upon; Another objection was that some values or principles could not be measured in this way. ‘The man who left Omelas was a more extreme example – all the prosperity and beauty of Omelas were bought with the child’s pain. It may seem unrealistic, but in fact, it is not uncommon to achieve the happiness of the majority at the expense of the misery of the few. That is how human society works.

At the end of the article, I think those who leave are those who ‘think that human rights and human dignity are above utility’ and act on this principle, even if the choice means that they have to abandon everything they enjoy now. As for the place they are going, it does not appear in human history and is unlikely to be reached in the foreseeable future, so the author says, ‘for most of us, the place they are going is more unimaginable than the city of joy, which I cannot describe at all. Maybe that place does not even exist. ‘ Even so, it is a desirable and desirable goal. To conclusion, everything has its two sides. Sometimes life is just too good to be true. Omelas is an excellent piece of literature to get people thinking about these critical questions about society. It is a good start, but getting the full answer does not stop there.

31 October 2020

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