Sally Fitzgibbons Foundation

Beginning the Academic Essay

Both of the communities in The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas (Omelas) by Ursula K. Le Guin and The Giver (Giver) by Lois Lowry are said to be Utopia, but still there are people who decide to leave the community. Is it better to stay or leave in the community?
In The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas (Omelas) by Ursula K. Le Guin and The Giver (TG) by Lois Lowry, both of the communities can be seen as Utopia. “Utopia can be any ideal place or state or any visionary system of political or social perfection” ( https://www.thefreedictionary.com/Utopian+society) . In Omelas, the way the narrator starts the story is very enchanting saying that Omelas is a “Magical land of the past”.The setting is filled with cheerful imagery. In visual aspect, Omelas is “bright towered by the sea”, the boats in the “harbor sparkled with flags” and the horse’s manes are “braided with streams of silver, gold and green”, in addition the snow is described as “white-gold fire”, the sky is “dark blue” and the meadows are green. (Le guin, 242) The people living there are also described as joyful, the women are “merry”, the kids are naked in the bright air, the horses are also described to be vastly excited for the Festival of Summer. The descriptions of Omelas also includes the sense of hearing. In the Festival of Summer there are many sounds that can be heard: “clamor of bells”, women chatting, “a shimmering of gong and tambourine”, joyous clanging of the bells. The sounds that can be heard in Omelas are joyous and through this description it strengthen the idea of a utopian society .There are other aspects of things that makes Omelas a utopian society. In the social aspect, “there was no king. They did not use swords, or keep slaves. They were not barbarians.” , Even the narrator makes it clear that he/she “does not know the rules and laws of their society, but suspects that the rules were singularly few. It was a place without monarchy and slavery, without the stock exchange, the advertisement, the secret police, and the bomb.” it shows that the people living in Omelas are not governed by anyone, yet their society is peaceful and the people living there are independent and equal showing that no one is needed to control them.
Just like Omelas, Giver is also described as a utopian society. The community in Giver is described as a perfect place because it is peaceful. But unlike Omelas, it’s description is different in the sensory aspect. In the beginning the narrator gives no sensory description of the community. But the reader learns more about the laws of the community. In Giver, the community works on the ideology of ‘sameness”- Everything needs to be the same to ensure the perfection of the community. Sameness gets rid of unpredictability. For example, the climate can be controlled to ensure the crops are never spoiled and always are good for harvest. ^”Snow made growing food difficult, limited the agricultural periods. And unpredictable transportation almost impossible at times. It wasn’t a practical thing, so it became obsolete when we went to sameness” (Lowry, 111). The community plans carefully and all decisions are made by the council men. For example, the councilman of the community evaluates the citizens to see if they are suitable to a housing unit. Jobs are assigned in the age of 12 at a ceremony. Jonas’s community is carefully crafted to ensure and uphold the utopian society that it is described as. The people in the community are taken care of and ensured to have a good life, also the community provides many facilities and equipment and foods to the citizens, for example the supplies are given to the citizens by cargo planes. Most importantly the citizens living in the community are free from any extreme physical and emotional pain. There are medication provided to the citizens to stop the pain. Although the people still feel negative emotions like fear and anger, emotions that cause mental illness like loneliness and loss are only emotions that the receiver is able to experience. Which shows the normal citizens are pampered by the community and highlights the importance of the giver which is ‘only the giver has memories of the lives in the past because it would lift the burden off the citizens of the community'(Lowry, 146).
Although both of the societies are seen as Utopian, underneath the facade there lies the sinister truth. In Giver, it is quickly established that his community is strict because of his concern of the right choice of word. ‘Precision of language is one of the most important tasks of small children’ (Lowry, 76). For example, his friend Asher who was three years old, says the word “smack” instead of “snack.”. This results in him getting smacked by a discipline wand. Asher got smacked to the extent that he got “a series of painful lashes that left marks on Asher’s legs” (Lowry, 76). This shows that the community of Jonas is unforgiving, even to the little children. One also understands the community is less forgiving to people making mistakes. For example, when a pilot makes an error he is planned to be released and when Jonas’s mother shares her feelings about the repeated offender that she used to help and she tells her family “they know that there’s no third chance. The rules say that if there’s a third transgression, he simply has to be released” (Lowry, 21). Release is a passive way to talk about execution, euthanasia or people being killed off. It shows that the community is not tolerant towards any offenders. The giver tells Jonas that “We gained control of many things. But we had to let go of others”(Lowry, 124) .Because the community works on the ideology of ‘sameness”, the implementation of this rule results in extreme control over the community. Everyone is similar. People have no control over their life ,choices are not given to the citizens living in the community. ^(ADDQUOTES)Councilmen of the community decide marriage partner, clothes, family unit and sex of the kids. Colours that can be seen by the citizens are limited and no animals can be found within the community. ^For example when stating the meaning of the word animal the narrator says that “Neither child knew what the word meant, exactly, but it was often used to describe someone uneducated or clumsy, someone who didn’t fit in”(Lowry, 17). All real life animals are said to be imaginary. For example, Jonas tells his sister that her comfort object (elephant) existed a long time ago , and answers “right” with scepticism (Lowry, 131). Although the community is said to use the ideology of sameness, it is quite ironic because when there are cases of identical twins, one of the twin is “released”, this shows that in order to achieve the perfection of the community they will commit infanticide.
Just like the community of Jonas, Omelas is not a place that it is said to be. The narrator states that in order to keep the Utopian status of Omelas, all of the responsibility is given to one person which is similar to the community in the Giver. In the Giver the receiver bears the burden,while in Omelas a child bears it. The child lives in basement which is ‘three paces long and two wide’ (Le guin, 245), and the child was questioned if ‘Perhaps it was born defective, or perhaps it has become imbecile through fear, malnutrition, and neglect’ (Le guin, 245), ‘It is so thin there there are no calves to its legs; its belly protrudes; it lives on half-bowl of corn meal and grease a day. It is naked. Its buttocks and thighs are mass of festered sores, as it sits in its own excrement continually’ (Le guin, 246). By using literary technique imagery, it gives the disgusting visual image of the child physical state to make readers understand about how bad the child is treated. The narrator also uses “it” to describe the child showing that Omelas and it’s citizens treats the child as a object . In Omelas people are fully aware of the child’s conditions and inhumane the situation is, ‘Some of them understand why, and some do not, but they all understand that their happiness, the beauty of their city, the tenderness of their friendships, the health of their children, the wisdom of their scholars, the skill of their makers, even the abundance of their harvest and the kindly weathers of their skies, depend wholly on this child’s abominable misery’ (Le guin, XX). Showing the conflict of the people that in order to keep Omelas a Utopia, a child should be put through the monstrous conditions. It is even more heartbreaking when the readers learn about the child once had freedom when the narrator states ‘the child, who has not always lived in the tool room, and can remember sunlight and its mother’s voice, sometimes speaks. “I will be good,” it says. “Please let me out. I will be good!” and The child used to scream for help at night, and cry a good deal, but now it only makes a kind of whining, “eh-haa, eh-haa,” and it speaks less and less often.’ by uncovering this information to the readers, it is more bone chilling to know there was a time that he/she had lived somewhat decent life but now is put through hellish conditions and have more sympathy towards the child who is described as ‘it’.

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