The unnamed narrator introduces readers to Omelas, a seemingly perfect city in the middle of the Festival of Summer. Citizens are merry and happy and merry in a way that the narrator admits might sound boring or simple to readers, but points out that people are, in fact, intelligent. After clarifying that citizens do enjoy sexual promiscuity and drug use, but without the destructive connotation we might assume, the narrator admits the single flaw of the city. One child is kept in a tiny room, neglected and mistreated, and all of the citizens know about it while “knowing” that the child’s suffering is the reason Omelas is able to exist in such an otherwise idyllic state. While many children, upon learning of the child’s existence (and maybe even visiting the room), are at first appalled, only a few citizens ultimately decide to walk away from Omelas forever in protest.
By: Ursula K. Le Guin