Far away is the utopian city of Omelas, where the locals are getting ready to celebrate a festival. The people's joy is untainted for children and adults alike as they enjoy music, horse-riding, and feasts. Yet, despite this (apparently) complete happiness, the narrator repeatedly tells the reader that these people aren't any simpler or more naive than those who live in other places. Eventually the reason for such prosperity and contentment is revealed...

"[[http://web.archive.org/web/20070810183849/http://www.twinoaks.org/members-exmembers/exmembers/center/omelas.html The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas]]" is a MetaFiction by Creator/UrsulaKLeGuin, written in 1973.

!!"The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" contains examples of:

* ArmorPiercingQuestion: Due to the nature of the narrative, it's actually asked of the reader:
-->"Now do you believe in them? Are they not more credible?"
* ArsonMurderAndJaywalking: Part of Omelas' description mentions it having things that haven't yet been invented, such as floating light sources, fuelless power, and a cure for the common cold.
* BittersweetEnding: The last few paragraphs focuses on those who leave the city, disgusted with its "UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans" attitude, while the city itself continues as before, but there is a note of hope in regards to what [[TitleDrop the ones who walk away]] may be heading for.
* CrapsaccharineWorld: Downplayed. Omelas genuinely ''is'' a {{Utopia}}, but [[spoiler:one whose existence relies on a continually-sustained act of unspeakable barbarity towards an innocent.]]
* {{Deconstruction}}: More like a deconstruction of utopia deconstructions. As readers who are used to reading dystopian literature can't possibly accept a utopia with some sort of catch, the LemonyNarrator just throws out [[spoiler:the tortured child]] to satisfy the reader's inner curiosity.
* DefectorFromParadise: The story features the titular Ones. The Ones are people who choose to leave the perfect Utopian city of Omelas of their own will because [[spoiler:Omelas' prosperity is PoweredByAForsakenChild]].
* DevilsAdvocate: At one point, the Narrator takes on that role. Aside from TheNeedsOfTheMany and UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans arguments it presents, it also proposes that since [[spoiler:the forsaken child]] is so traumatized as to be irrevocably brain-damaged, perhaps there's no reason not to extend its suffering as long as possible to save someone else from the same fate.
* FateWorseThanDeath: [[spoiler:Being chosen to be the one child on whose suffering the city is founded.]]
* FreeLoveFuture: The narrator suggests that, if the reader thinks this would be ideal, then Omelas has this kind of society.
* GoodIsNotDumb: The narrator emphasizes that the happiness of the people of Omelas doesn't make them stupid or naive.
* InherentInTheSystem: In order for Omelas to run properly, [[spoiler:one child must be kept in absolute misery]].
* ItIsDehumanizing: An IntendedAudienceReaction. The narrator refers to the child as "it" because "it could be a boy or girl" at any time in the history of Omelas, but the effect of this trope persists nonetheless: readers understand that the child is seen more as a thing than as a person.
* LemonyNarrator: The story is written as the Narrator having a conversation with the reader. The Narrator asks philosophical and rhetorical questions of the reader at several points.
* MarySuetopia: {{Invoked|Trope}}. The LemonyNarrator constantly mentions how perfect the town is, but doesn't think the non-ironic, non-corny perfection is coming across to the reader, and so urges the reader to imagine his/her own version of a perfect place, rife with whatever he/she personally thinks is good and devoid of whatever he/she deems bad.
-->But I wish I could describe it better. I wish I could convince you. Omelas sounds in my words like a city in a fairy tale, long ago and far away, once upon a time. 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.
:: :It's played with later when the Narrator, obviously [[GenreSavvy not expecting the reader to believe]] that such a place would exist ''anywhere'' [[TownWithADarkSecret without some kind of price being paid]], eventually [[spoiler:just drops the description of the child and what is done to it for the sake of making ''the rest'' of the town a Mary Suetopia and essentially asks the reader: "[[ArmorPiercingQuestion There you go, a horrible flaw in the system! Are you happy now?!]]"]].
* MeaningfulName: Averted. Le Guin says that she just got the name by seeing "Salem, OR" (that's Oregon) on a road sign and spelled it backwards on a whim. But the name "Salem" is meaningful on its own -- it has the same root word as the Hebrew word ''Shalom,'' or "peace," and of course it is also the name of the Massachusetts town which held infamous witch trials.
* MetaFiction: The narrator speaks directly to the reader, even insisting that they cannot properly describe Omelas in all its glory.
* TheNeedsOfTheMany: The entire basis for the story is more-or-less an exploration of this trope.
* PerfectPacifistPeople: The people of Omelas, the narrator muses, have no need for soldiers.
* PostModernism: The LemonyNarrator interacts with the reader a lot and there is no conventional story. Actually, this may be a case of "post-post modernism" as well since the story deconstructs the reader's desire to know what the catch of a utopia is (thereby revealing the society to be a dystopia) which has come about in post modern dystopian stories that critique the idea of a perfect society.
* PoweredByAForsakenChild: The good of Omelas appears to rely on the abject suffering of one child.
* SdrawkcabName: WordOfGod says that Omelas was named by spelling Salem, O[regon] backwards.
* ShiningCity: Omelas. The narrator describes the city on a glorious festival day, of horse races and music and good cheer wherever you look.
* TakeThatAudience: The LemonyNarrator makes it clear that they are aware the reader can't possibly accept a utopia without some sort of catch, so it brings up the [[spoiler:tortured child]] with an "are you happy now?" demeanor.
* TitleDrop: The very last line, in reference to those people who refused to continue living in a city based on... ''that''.
* TownWithADarkSecret: Subverted, possibly. All citizens of Omelas learn the secret once they're old enough to understand it. The secret is only kept (briefly) from the reader.
* {{Utopia}}: Omelas is this. Subverted in that some of its inhabitants decide, once they know its secret, that it isn't worth it and played with in the fact that the narrator essentially drops the bomb about the secret and then badgers the audience about having forced him to make such a horrible thing up for the sake of making his description of Omelas "realistic".
* UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans: We learn that [[spoiler:a young child is severely mistreated in order for everyone else to be happy]].
** Arguably a partial [[SubvertedTrope subversion]]: the narration never quite makes clear if the [[spoiler:suffering child]] is ''really'' necessary or not, merely that ''we the readers'' would never believe the story if not for that element. Which also makes it a bit of a [[TakeThatAudience Take That, Audience!]] for being unwilling to accept that Utopia could actually exist ''without'' a price.
* WalkingSpoiler: [[spoiler:It's basically impossible to discuss the major themes of the work without mentioning the forsaken child.]]
* WasItReallyWorthIt: Everyone in Omelas must face this question. [[spoiler:After seeing the suffering child, some people can't bear living in Omelas anymore and walk away.]]