The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas

by LeGuin, Ursula K.

More About the Story:

In the dystopian fantasy of my days, we would each have our own child in the toolshed. For Ursula, of course, we need only one. Not a bad daydream, if you can prevent yourself from drawing the natural comparisons… oh, I do hope this doesn’t cause you nightmares.


Article written by miette

Miette has been podcasting the best of world literature's short fiction since March 2005, when she was just a pup.

13 Responses

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  1. Term Papers
    Term Papers May 4, 2005 at 7:22 pm |

    Term Papers and Custom Term Papers. This education business is growing.

  2. miette
    miette May 7, 2005 at 4:08 am |

    A first, a spam! An occasion to celebrate! Can you podcast a graduate-level paper on the use of the word “nuisance” in Beckett?

  3. Dubois
    Dubois June 7, 2005 at 12:54 am |

    Hello: You seem a fan of this story. I’m currently working on my own short story loosly based on this story. I’m not sure why I seem to find this story as facsinating as I do. Great podcast by the way.

  4. Damien D'Anna
    Damien D'Anna January 7, 2006 at 10:19 pm |

    Ursula’s Utopia

    With all its advancements in technology
    And summer festivals decked with beauty,
    Ursula’s utopia was a possibility
    Even with out that child’s misery.

    Open your eyes and dare to believe
    That your luxury has no dependency
    On the less fortunate’s depravity.
    What is wrong with our ideology
    That we can’t imagine utopian society
    Without some form of indecency?

    Can you not see
    The subtle irony?

    No better were those who walked away
    Than those who had the audacity to stay,
    For neither did anything
    To end the child’s suffering.

    How can we, with a clear conscience,
    Deny the responsibility given to us?
    For what greater purpose could we serve here
    Than to strive to help those who are in despair?

    The citizens of Omelas who went on enjoying life
    Justified the necessity of that poor child’s strife,
    And while they enjoyed their festival in the sun,
    They told themselves, “Well, he’s only one.”

    By Derek Damien D’Anna (email address damiend’

  5. Phil Ovialle
    Phil Ovialle July 24, 2006 at 11:51 pm |

    I think the point is missed.
    To help the child is to deny utopia.

    If all had walked away,
    Then could the child be free?

  6. Peter Zorn
    Peter Zorn March 10, 2007 at 9:40 pm |

    To walk away? Where to? Away from what? After all these years of ramblings it can be for me the only way to stay, to free the child, to show it the sun and the flowers. What happens then is secondary. And who the heck needs a perfect Utopia? All the people there, as I, as this child, could live as normal human beings (sometimes suffering – isn’t that kind of normal), but then, only then, we could also have happy moments that come from all alone when each of us knows finally again that a decent lived life is the real thing, not any perfect Utopia. Then we as the child could simply enjoy what we already have for free. Sunshine, flowers, air, smiles, hugs and a clean heart). I would not free this child out of any high morale standard or to prove something. It is simply my way and that is enough for me to it. Finally peace inside after all these years ….. wow

  7. happy2007
    happy2007 December 2, 2007 at 7:36 am |

    i think that what she likes to say is that man is always in seachof perfectability and he will not find that because one mans need maybe another ones poison

  8. scatterbrain
    scatterbrain January 29, 2009 at 1:42 pm |

    It’s completely scrambled at my end- like a tape being rewound.

  9. Carole McDonnell
    Carole McDonnell May 3, 2009 at 6:19 am |

    Came to your site via Ghosts by Lord Dunsany which I’d been looking for. Love this story, but I also love Texts by Ursula. That’s a great story…and if you take requests….. -C

  10. miette
    miette May 6, 2009 at 8:46 am |

    Hi Carole: Glad you found what you’re looking for… I couldn’t agree more about Texts, though I don’t have a copy. If I get my mitts on it, I’d love to give it a go. Bet I could come close to doing it justice.

  11. Carole McDonnell
    Carole McDonnell May 9, 2009 at 4:57 am |

    I know you could. -C

  12. Carole McDonnell
    Carole McDonnell May 9, 2009 at 4:59 am |

    It always seemed to me, btw, that we in the west live in omelas and many third world people have suffered for the so-called good life we enjoy. . . and that we aren’t willing to give up on the good things in our lives for them. -C

  13. Nikki Lee
    Nikki Lee August 31, 2009 at 6:56 pm |

    I believe this was a good story. Although it is sad that a child had to live through misery just so a town could endure happiness I do not agree with. But it makes me look at life in general and think about how good we as people have it in the U.S.A. compared to people in other countrys.

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