Themes and message

Happiness versus suffering 

The short story “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” by Ursula K. Le Guin explores the theme of happiness versus suffering through the story’s plot, characters, and the use of contrast. 

The title of the story includes the word “Omelas”, which is the mirrored view of the words “Salem, O(regon)”. At the same time, the word “Omelas” pronounces as the French words “Homme, hélas”, meaning “Man/mankind, unfortunately”. The wordplay hints at the fact that mankind seems to be doomed to suffer and make mistakes, just like in the 17th century, people in Salem killed numerous women accused of witchcraft for what they thought was the good of their community. 

In the first part of the story, Omelas is described as a “city of happiness” (p. 40, l. 35) inhabited by happy residents. The narrato...

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