Could i please get some feedback on my "The ones who walked away from omelas" essay?

  • would love some ideas on a stronger and more philosophical beyond the text connection and how to develop this across my 3 paragraphs

Question- analyse how language features were used to explore a universal idea

An action is right if and only if it produces the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number of people. “The ones who walk away from omelas” (TOWWAFO) introduces this universal idea of utillitarianism- how there cannot be happiness in a society without suffering- and reveals how it’s present in both the city of omelas and our own society. At the beginning of this story, leguin invites the reader into this ‘perfect’ society, of which we don’t quite believe, before foreshadowing the suffering that is present. At the turning point, leguin reveals the cost to this perfection, a child in the basement, emphasising the nature of omelas, that all happiness depends on the suffering of one. At the ending, leguin challenges us, how we are no better than the people of omelas, as we too turn a blind eye to the suffering in our societies such as sweatshops and child labour. By questioning us as readers, would we stay or would we go, leguin uses language features to explore how the happiness of our society, and the city of omelas depend on the unjust suffering.

There is no such thing as a utopia. At the beginning of the ones who walk away from omelas, this idea is foreshadowed as leguin invites us as readers into this society so we become complicit in this society. Leguin uses language features such as figurative, descriptive language “the rigging of the boats in the harbour sparkled with flags”and rhetorical questions “how to describe joy?” to draw us in and allow us to become complicit in this society. She sets this positive and happy place only to further shock us later in the story, as well as creating a society that seems slightly unbelievable, and encouraging us to use our imagination to fill in the details of omelas for ourselves. Leguin subtly reveals here that omelas isn’t so much of a place; more an idea, and that if we can’t imagine a truly happy place-if we find it unbelievable- it reflects off our own beliefs of society. Leguin then foreshadows the suffering and begins to slightly reveal how those of us turn a blind eye to suffering by repeating ‘they were not simple folk’ numerous times across the beginning, and by stating “treason of the artist- refusal to admit the banality of evil”. The banality of evil- being evil without evil- is one of the first clues that the people of omelas, like us, are not evil, however their actions are. Leguin challenges us here, as we question what evil actions could they possibly do in this seemingly perfect society? it is foreshadowed that there is more than we think to the people of omelas, revealing the universal idea of how true happiness cannot exist in a society with some form of unjust suffering. This challenges us as readers, as we realise we are complicit in our own society just like omelas, and how we all turn a blind eye to suffering in order to benefit ourselves. Leguin reveals this utillitarianism idea is present in both societies, like how our own “child in the closet” is the suffering of those working in sweatshops, not getting paid enough to produce clothes that we buy and wear and turn a blind eye to the suffering that created them. The beginning is the first hint and foreshadow that we are not unlike the people of omelas, and how this universal idea of utillitarianism is present in our society.

At the turning point, leguin reveals the suffering within the omelas society, and in doing so, reveals the dramatic contrast from the beginning, and also how we are not unlike the people of omelas. She firstly validates our understanding of omelas with rhetorical questions “do you believe it? no? then let me describe one more thing” only to then shock us by describing a suffering child locked inside a broom closet in the town “perhaps it was born defective, or perhaps it has become imbecile through neglect, malnutrition and fear”. By drawing us in, and then shocking us, leguin creates a dramatic contrast to the romantic society that we were complicit in beforehand. This is also a contrast to the youth of omelas, and reveals that this is how the people of omelas accept this suffering- that they accept this cost of perfection for their own youth. By also using ‘it’ pronouns and repitiion of the word ‘perhaps’ it suggests that they don’t know much about this child, they distance themselves from it and dehumanize it in order to turn a blind eye about this suffering. This suffering is the cost of their happiness, like in our own society, and they realise this which is why the people of omelas let this happen. Leguin also states “the terms are strict and absolute”, which addresses the readers as well. Leguin creates an opposition between individual and society here, and emphaises to us the universal idea of utillitairianism: that all happiness in this society relies on this childs unjust misery. Leguin reveals here how we are no better than the people of omelas, how this universal idea of the suffering of one for the greater good is present in all of our societies yet we have accepted our realities and turned a blind eye. Like with not only turning a blind eye to the suffering, but also encouraging it by keep on consuming ie buying fast fashion for our own benefit without stopping to think about the unjust suffering that is always in place for this happiness to occur.
In the ending of TOOWAFO, leguin challenges us as an audience, posing the moral question, would you stay or would you go? she explores how the omelas deal with this initial shock of this blunt utillitarianism, and in turn, poses this to us as an audience as well. “it has been afraid too long to ever be free of fear”, revealing to us a justification that the people of omelas use to justify this suffering in order to live their own happy lives, as well as revealing that to grow up on omelas, one must understand the true cost of happpiness. Leguin uses language features “Theirs is no vapid, irresponsible happiness” to reveal that just as how the child is a slave to it’s misery, the people of omelas are also slaves to the child; they are bound to omelas by this knowledge and are indebted to this child for their own happiness. This is what connects the people of omelas to eachother and to the hild as well, this idea of how they are only happy because the child is suffering. Leguin then uses direct address when talking about omelas secret “are they not more credible?” which suggests to us as readers that we find omelas more realistic now that it has suffering as opposed to the fairytale at the beginning. So, leguin invites us to examine our own expectations for happiness in our society, and reveals how there is always this suffering that is present. the “banality of evil” has been so normalised in our own society as well as omelas- evil actions without being an evil person, and because it is so normalised, we find it easier to accept and ignore the suffering in our own society, such as sweatshops and the environment. We are no better than the people of omelas.
In conclusion, leguin effectively uses language features to explore utillitarianism in the city of omelas and also our own society, revealing how we are more similar to the people of omelas than we initially thought. leguin ends the story with introducing individualism in a new way, "they seem to know where they are going” showing how some reject the comfort of society for own personal morals. Leguin alludes that it is impossible to imagine what lies beyond the comfort of omelas- the comfort of our own society just like it’s impossible to have a society without suffering. There is always suffering that exists for the greater happiness of many. And so, leguin poses us with this question, would we stay and reap the benefits of a perfect society? Will we continue to consume fast fashion and convenient travel options? Or will we leave this unjust society and be the change that we always talk about but never do.

Kiā ora
This is a beautiful story.
You ask about the stronger philosophical connection, which leads to excellence. It is tied very much to the purpose of the author - what it is they have created the text for - what do they want us to be thinking about. You have done a great job of developing this. You mention the allegorical connections, the lack of answers, the fact that readers have to ask themselves as individuals what it is they would do. You talk about the underlying notion of any utopia and what it must be based on . You do a really great job with the perceptive comments.
It is a really important notion she explores in light of the enormous and ever growing gap between ’ those who have and those who do not’ in the world today.
I really enjoyed reading this. Well done.
JD :grinning: