Mark and Omelas

Erin McGovern

Peer Edited by: Hailey Ralston and Nicole Suscello


The story starts off in a utopian society. In the city Omelas, the buildings are bright and by the sea. “The rigging of boats in harbor sparked with flags” (497). Everyone is happy, there are festivals, everything seems perfect. It starts with a festival. Children are dancing, there’s music playing, the bells are ringing and it’s a beautiful day. The people seem simply happy, but the narrator insists that the people of Omelas live very complex lives. He insists that the people are not boring in any sense of the word. He talks about how the despite the fact that the people do not have very much, they have come to an understanding of what is necessary and are therefore happy with what they have.

Omelas is a joyful city with a secret. That secret is a child in the basement. The Child’s gender is unknown. It is locked in a closet for most of the day until it is brought out to perform and used as a bargaining chip. They believe that in order for the city to be so happy and perfect, one person must pay with suffering. Everyone except children know about the child. Some people who see the child and keep going with their lives, but they are not as happy as they were before seeing the child. Others leave Omelas, yet no one says anything about rescuing the child. They believe that if the child were to be rescued, the whole city would suffer.

When a quantitative analysis was run on this story, it was found that the story starts with talking about mostly “people” and ends with saying mostly “child”. There is a major shift in the story. It starts with talking about the city (i.e. people) and ends with talking about the individual (i.e. child). It is very interesting to me that the story shifts to talking mostly about the child yet no one ever talks about what gender it is or rescuing it. Another interesting thing was that the word “know” is one of the most used words in the story. It is interesting because everyone in the story knows about the child but still no one does anything about it.

Karl Marx wrote about communism and revolution in the communist Manifesto. He talked about how the proletariat would one day rise up and defeat the bourgeoisie. This can be related to story because the people should have risen up and freed the child. Marx would tell the people in the story that the people who disagreed with what they saw when they saw the child should unionize and overthrow the people who do not see a problem with what is happening to the child.

The story is about how every seemingly perfect city has its secret that it wants to bury. Every country uses a scapegoat when things go bad. In America, immigrants are seen as the scapegoats just like the child in the story is. In “The ones who walk away from Omelas”, the child is blamed and needs to be punished so everyone else can be happy. In America, the immigrants are ridiculed and blamed for taking jobs and being the reason for every bad thing that has ever happened to someone in America. Even though none of those things are true, immigrants are still seen as the problem and ostracizing them is the answer.


To Chelsea on “Mark on The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”: I would agree with you about what Marx would say about Omelas and the child. It is interesting because I did not think of it like that. I would say that the child is a reminder that no city is perfect and that Marx would want the people who were upset by seeing the child to rise up and say something about the situation. He would want them to change it.


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