The short story “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” by Ursula K. Le Guin lacks a traditional-plot structure and is instead build on the contrast between the first part presenting an idyllic society and the second part exploring the horrible cost of the city’s happiness. Foreshadowing plays an important role in warning the reader about the twist in the second part. 

The story features two collective characters and an individual one, the locked-up child. The collective characters of the people of Omelas and those who walk away are also developed in opposition, while the imprisoned child symbolizes oppression and suffering as a cost for happiness. 

The story is set in the imaginary city of Omelas, which seems to be built on a balance between natural landscapes and manmade structures. The social setting explores the way the society of Omelas is organized, looking at their rejection of certain types of technology, warfare, or organized religion, while embracing liberal values and kindness. 

The story is a first-person narration told from the limited perspective of the narrator, who is outside the plot. The narrator is unusual for addressing readers directly and by seeming unreliable, appearing to invent the story as it unfolds. 

The language of the story includes detailed descriptions of the setting. The choice of words reflects the contrast in the plot, while similes and symbols express the paradoxes of this apparently perfect society. 

You can read a more detailed analysis in the following pages.

Short story analysis

I denne vejledning får du Studienets hjælp til at analysere noveller (short stories) i engelsk.