Omelas Moral Dilemma
In “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” Ursula LeGuin is raising the moral dilemma of justice vs. happiness. The happiness of the citizens in Omelas depends on the suffering of a child locked in a closet. She briefly describes the contrast between the child’s situation and the citizens’ position, portraying a moral dilemma, which is when you have to choose to do one of two equally unpleasant things. LeGuin portrays an ideal life “boats in the harbor sparkled with flags, women carrying their babies and chatting as they walked and streets filled with music and dancing” (1311).
The morning air was clear, the peaks wear crowning with snow and the sweetness of air trembled enough to bring joyous of belles through the streets of Omelas” (1311). Summer has begun and they gather together at the Green fields to smell the marvelous smell of cooking. “The youths and girls line up there horses and begin to start the line of course” (1313). A child sits alone playing his wooden flute sending a sweet and magic tune, people pause and listen to the young child but do not speak to him. However, she also portrays the situation as extremely injustice. In a basement under one of the beautiful public buildings of Omelas” (1313) is a child that is sacred and alone.
The child is observed, he cries out at night the pain and suffering. He sometimes speaks out “I will be good,” “Please let me out” (1314). Very little light sweeps through the cellar the child has no understanding of time. Others content merely know the child is there, it is explained to young children when they are capable of understanding. Young children often clutch for weeks of no real joy. They take their pain and suffering home of the young child locked away in the underground cellar.
Some of the people of Omelas understand why the child is there and the others do not. Even when the issue is being explained people still don’t understand they are shocked and sickened. Words are not spoken to the child tears of injustice, compassion, and happiness perhaps is of no knowledge to the child. Yet tears and anger of the acceptances to their helplessness is the existence that they know the child is not free. Men and women walk the streets, and weep at the fact of the child in the cellar. The child in the cellar is the existence of why the Omelas treat their children gentle but yet full of compassion and joyful love for happiness.
The tearless rage, treatment, freedom, and acceptance of the Omelas to the child have long ever to be free and fearful. Therefore, happiness seems to be at the expense of justice. “The folks were not simple folk, though they were happy” (1312). They would not use the word “cheer” anymore because they weren’t cheerful (1312), but yet all smiles would become archaic (1312). They didn’t have slaves or swords nor did they use their people as barbarians (1312). Yet their society, rules, and laws were especially less complex, but the people of Omelas “were not less complex than us” (1312).
The trouble was encouraged by sophisticates considering happiness rather than being stupid” (1312). Their children were happy, mature and intelligent; perhaps happiness is based on what is neither necessary nor destructive. Omelas strikes some as all smiles and good people. The people of the Omelas have guilt, and the joy they have is built on successful slaughter. What swells the hearts of Omelas is the boundless, generous and magnanimous triumph in souls of all men and against some other enemy. The people of Omelas often stray away from the village and straight over the mountains and through the farmland never to return.
The people’s reactions towards the child’s faith, the city development, and survival, make it a real big dilemma. The goodness of the Omelas threw away small improvements for the small chance and happiness of one. Adults and other children view the child locked away in the basement under the beautiful buildings. No matter the disgust, and sorrow they have for the child, wanting to do something for him would have Omelas end in wither and would be destroyed. The people leaving the village realized that justice was more of important moral value, than having one innocent child sacrifices his life for everyone’s happiness.
Therefore, I believe “Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” is a moral dilemma of justice vs. happiness. The people realize that justice is more of an important moral value than to have one child suffer to have happiness for everyone. To have one sacrifice his life and happiness for other people’s happiness is not right. People experience happiness first before experiencing misery. The acceptance to happiness and existence is in the eye of the holder. The compassion and joyful happiness of one shall not be taken for granted suffering of one gives opinions of freedom, nobility and an understanding of right or wrong to others.