Wednesday, December 4, 2013

"The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas" -- some things to consider

If you are thinking about writing your final essay about Ursula LeGuin's short story, "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas," I strongly encourage you to do some extra reading. Here are some timely, relevant, and helpful sites:

This essay compares the people of the fictional town of Omelas to the people who attend or work at or support Penn State University. The people of Happy Valley may -- or may not -- turn out to be very Omelas-like. What do you think? Truth in advertising: one of my best friends in the world has been a professor at Penn State for twenty years, and he is about to "walk away . . ."

 And here is a blog post written by a young man from Ireland. This essay convicts all of us. His argument is that in one way or another we all live in Omelas -- and we have not walked away.

UPDATE (12/06/2012):  Here is a link to a video clip from ABC News, which discusses a raid on a sweatshop in India.

ANOTHER UPDATE (5/1/2013):  Here is a link to a cool Tumblr page that might lead you to some thought-provoking questions.

There's more out there: timely writing about the state of the world RIGHT NOW, which uses this short story as a way of framing a particular argument. So my challenge to you is -- find it. Think about it. Respond to it. And then write about it. This is the true point of literature.

And dudes: Cite your sources!

BEST UPDATE OF ALL: Many, many thanks to Noor A. who pointed out the connections between our story and this lovely animated short:

Posted by Liz Holmes


  1. I just saw this and wanted to say that I love Ursula LeGuin. Yes, even more than Harry Potter. The Left Hand of Darkness, The Dispossessed, and the entire Earthsea Cycle are among my favorite books ever! And you may need to correct me on this, but I think her books have more content than H.P. (while her SF books are for an older audience, the fantasy ones are not). Also, she doesn't need a ghost writer to write her books :). What a great lady.

    Sam P

  2. "The Clocktower" animation is beautifully done and I've enjoyed it by watching it a few times. It's painfully sad that she can't enjoy the the beauty in the outside world. She expresses that she's happy towards the end, but is she really? : (

    I also read some of the Youtube comments and I agree, can't they just make another gear? O:

    Michelle A.

  3. Very impressing short video.
    Although she could not enjoy the world outside that she wanted to see, she finally figures out that everything has a reason to exist and that makes the world a world!

    Ping W.

  4. I had actually watched this video a few years ago in an art class, but I can definitely see the connection between The Clocktower and The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas.

    The entire town's beauty, joy and functionality relies solely on the woman being trapped in the clocktower longing to be a part of the outside world.

    It's a beautiful short. Another of my favorites for the same graduating class at Ringling was "Out to Play." It's great for a laugh. Here's the link. Hope you enjoy.

    Aubrey M.

  5. I think the best way to characterize this video is as painfully poetic. She is the reason that the world goes around but she can't experience it. But through all that, I feel that the worst part is that there's an inconvenient window in front of her that lets her see everything.
    --Jonathan B.