The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas


This study guide will help you analyze the text “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” by Ursula K. Le Guin. We will show you examples of elements in the text that will be relevant for your analysis. In these notes, we will focus on plot and structure, characterization, and themes.


Title: “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”
Author: Ursula K. Le Guin
Genre: Short story
Year of Publication: 1973

Ursula K. Le Guin is an American writer who is mostly known for her fantasy and science-fiction stories, but also for her short stories and books for children. The short story “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” was published in 1973 in the magazine New Directions and it brought her the Hugo Award for the best short story.


Below, you can read an excerpt from our study guide: 

Motif: Light vs. dark

The short story can be separated into two sections: the ‘light’ one and the ‘dark’ one. The first section is filled with elements connected to light and beauty: the sun, summer, the fields and the procession. The second section, however, is filled with dark elements connected to the child who is locked somewhere underground. The room where the boy is locked up has “one locked door and no window”, so he lives in almost complete darkness. Also, notice how the two sections of the short story depict elements from above ground and from underground. This can also be associated with the theme of good and evil, described before.

Motif: Mankind, unfortunately!

The motif of the unfortunate mankind is carefully explored by Ursula K. Le Guin in her short story.


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The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas

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