The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas By Ursula K. Le Guin

1093 words - 5 pages

“The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” is a short fictional story written by Ursula K. LeGuin. Although this story contains many realistic characters and setting, there is an overall eerie vibe about the city of Omelas that makes the story unusual. Omelas is described with several vivid details that indicate the city to be a gorgeous place, yet it appears to be a sort of unrealistic utopia. After analyzing the story, it was evident that this story was written about people who are trapped in Purgatory trying to decide where to go next. Although never stated directly, LeGuin wrote this story intentionally about Purgatory, which is made clear by her use of the literary elements: imagery, point of view, and symbolism.
Throughout this short story, there are many instances of imagery that clearly demonstrate the idea of Purgatory being the setting for the story. One of the main images that is reiterated throughout the story is how wonderful, beautiful, and carefree Omelas is. Many descriptive words such as bright, sparkled, decorous, shimmering, and many more describe the scenery. Omelas is filled with gorgeous meadows and houses as well as a sea. With the usage of the many vivid images, a reader is able to picture and imagine what Omelas looks like; for many readers it is the perfect place. However, there is something about this persona that almost seems too beautiful and too eloquent to be true. Hence, why Omelas is Purgatory; a place where people cannot stay forever, therefore it is too good to be true. Not to mention, there is a line in the story that reads as follows, “They keep walking, and walk straight out of the city of Omelas, through the beautiful gates” (734), which paints another image. Although most may read this in a way that the gates invite people into the city, that is not true. Omelas being Purgatory is made clear here because these are the gates to heaven, not the gates leading into Omelas. Similarly, the gorgeous gates are like a one-way street; people can only go out the gates because once they pass through they are in heaven and never coming back. Corresponding with a line from the story, “They leave Omelas, they walk ahead in to the darkness, and they do not come back” (734). Descriptions such as these make it easy for a reader to picture the city of Omelas perfectly in his or her mind; the images portrayed in the story help readers to understand that such a place does not exist in real life. Therefore, all evidence of images leads to the conclusion that Omelas must be Purgatory. Obviously, imagery played a major role in developing the idea of Purgatory, but it is not the only literary device that leads to that assumption.
Point of view is also an indicator that supports the claim that Purgatory is what the city of Omelas is all about. Towards the beginning of the story, third person point of view is quite evident. Details are given in a way that it seems as if an outsider is observing it all and reporting back about what he or...

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