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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Character Analysis

The Narrator

The narrator is the only "character" in Le Guin's story who might be said to have a distinct personality. Because it is clear that Omelas is a product of the narrator's imagination, the choices she makes about what to include in the utopian worldspeak to her beliefs about happiness itself. We know, for instance, that she is not "puritanical" andthinks that sensory pleasures like sex and drooz—a non-addictive drug—should be freely available in Omelas. On the other hand, she evidently does not think a purely hedonistic life would truly qualify as a happy one, because she suggests that Omelas is also renowned for its art and scientific knowledge.

Perhaps the most significant thing about the narrator, however, is her insistence that her readers take part in "creating" Omelas. At a basic level, she does this to ensure that we truly believe in the happiness of Omelas, having helped design it ourselves. The invitation, however, also ensures that readers of "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" are implicated in the scenario the story describes: in more or less overt ways, many people base a certain amount of their well-being on the exploitation or dismissal of others.