The imprisoned child

The imprisoned child appears towards the end of the short story “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” by Ursula K. le Guin, and its characterization is given directly by the narrator.

The child’s outer characterization does not give readers a name or a gender, suggesting this is a symbolic character. The child symbolizes the scapegoat. Furthermore, the child is referred to as ‘it’ which indicates the people of Omelas might not see the child as an individual and that the child is treated like an object or an animal rather than a person. It can also hint that, when one imprisoned child dies, another one will take its place, so the gender does not matter as long as there is one child suffering. 

The physical appearance of the child is shocking: “It is so th...

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