Ursula Le Guin: Short Stories

Approaches to Injustice: Comparing "A Party Down at the Square" and "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" College

In the short stories "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" and "A Party Down at the Square," authors Ursula LeGuin and Ralph Ellison depict desensitized scenes in which communities show an extreme lack of empathy to human beings receiving unjustified abuse. Such bleak characterization is paired with a lack of acknowledgment of the matter by doing nothing to stop such injustices. With this, both authors critique society's role in the "Bystander Effect" and in the human rights abuses that pervade the lives of many people today.

The theme of conscientious objection is present in both stories. In "A Party Down at the Square", this theme is demonstrated through the boys' response to the lynching of an African American man. Although not delighted by the scene like the objectors around him the boy says, "I had enough. I didn't want to see anymore. I wanted to run somewhere and puke," (Ellison,209) but yet, disturbingly he stays. This is similar to the line, "They all know it is there, all the people of Omelas. Some of them have come to see it, others are content merely to know it is there"(Le Guin, 200), found in "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas". Both lines describe a consciousness of the abuse that both the man and child are...

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