Suffering for Happiness In “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” and “The Fluted Girl”
In these two dystopian stories share the same message of individuals that want to abandon the suffering that they encounter. It portrays great at the beginning but in the end there has to be someone suffering in order to maintain that false happiness.
In “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”, it describes this city of Omelas as fantastic and a perfect society where everyone is happy. It focuses on the children and their innocence. The narrator then speaks to the audience establishing that the story is make-believe and therefore we must use our imagination to describe it, “Perhaps it would be best if you imagined it as your own fancy bids, assuming it will rise to the occasion, for certainly, I cannot suit you all.” (Guin 259) It is difficult for the narrator to outline the details of this city because of the double lives to it. The narrator continues to highlight the theme by mentioning how Omelas is founded upon. The use of our imagination makes it seem that the story is not so much a story but simply just a thought, an ideal society in which we wished we lived in. This is undoubtedly a way for us to compare the differences in our world that we live in and this idea of “the perfect city”. The narrator even used drugs and war in Omelas as a positive way where it does not lead to demolition. This is significant to the theme because it clarifies how happiness can relate and coexist with the suffering in it. While this magical place seems too good to be true it does contain a little secret.
The narrator then shifts the views from all this contentment to a child in a lonely and dark closet all to himself. This child has been so drained mentally, emotionally, and physically throughout his whole life. It is a completely different life from those children first described as guiltless. It is completely stripped from having any sort of selfhood and being treated like any other human in this so-called perfect city. Now no one knows how that individual got there or where it came from they just know it HAS to be there, it is all they have ever known. They don’t even try to help the child, they just watch it crawl around and cry about how it will be obedient. I refer to the child as it because no one knows if it is a he or she; that is how unconcerned they are with it. The citizens of Omelas depend on this child for their happiness as if that child was not there then everything would just be destroyed. However, although no one is willing to stand up for the individual some choose to walk away, they walk away from Omelas and never return. This is their way of taking the initiative of their own individualism and to stand up to their own morality.
In “The Fluted Girl”, we get a point of view from Lidia, a very fragile and modified young girl. She has been through tons of surgeries and experiments to get her bones as fragile and thin as possible before they can break. She has been outlined like that to be used as a musical instrument. She is a slave to this evil woman who is her master, Madame Belari. Under her mask she is a victim just as Lidia is to a sir named Vernon Weir. The story is based on capitalism and making profits, it’s corrupting the world. It sounds familiar because that is what our reality is and where it is headed. Money is the root of all evil and it will turn us against one another. In this story, however, Belari brainwashed Lidia into thinking that what she does, she does to make her a star. She explains to Stephen, her best friend in the story, “I’m going to be a star. Belari will float us on the markets.” When she has her moment of showtime it reveals that she does child pornography in front of these sellers and Weir to impress him. After her performance, she gets her moment of epiphany where she realizes this is all just a game and she wants out. Stephen has left her with this potion before he is killed to end it all. She decides to finally use it on a strawberry but just as she is putting it in her mouth she gives it to Belair instead.
Both these stories contain worlds that aren’t all that they seem like. The city of Omelas has a perfect atmosphere until you dig deeper and find the child in the broom closet and notice the suffering involved. Some individuals cannot take it anymore so they walk away to their own world. The fluted girl believes she is doing right in what she does and what her master makes her do until she realizes that she is suffering for it. She chooses to walk away from this life as well by using the potion Stephen has given to her.
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