Literature and art are combination of feelings, experiences, perceptions and, of course, ideologies. In the short story “The ones that walked away from Omelas”, Ursula K. LeGuin creates a city or community called Omelas and the text is a perfect example of how literature can be combined with ideologies in a natural and unsuppressed way.
The first definitions of Omelas’ being the home of leniency and welfare, where people live happily together in a festival-like life, can be seen as the flattering of the economically inherited life that also lacks morality.
As it is told in the text, one can doubtlessly live in a society where one’s welfare is depended on the other’s desolated life like the lost soul of the child, if it fits in one’s perception of humanity.
But for those who cannot walk away without realizing the child can go out of the Omelas’ reality that becomes a comfort zone for the specific people,who are controlled by the monetary values, and create their own reality which is depicted as the unknown and left to the imagination, at least they know what not to do. By doing this, Ursula’s description of omelas blurs the distinction between the ideological utopia and distopia and reality becomes relative from one ideology to another.
If literature is a way of referring ideologies and feelings in an undirect and mystic way as Althusser’s perception, the framework of Omelas is a text that has the ideological aspects in allowance with a open mind reading and, in this context, using literature as a repressive mechanism to manipulate minds and ideas as Althusser named “Repressive State Apparatus” can only be achieved by the habitants of Omelas.
They can make it legal to damn the little child and think that it is the only way of living in prosperity and this way of fooling oneself can be associated with the socities that is ruled by the superstitious beliefs.
The moral lesson that Omelas’ residents get from the lost soul image of the child is taking good care of their children and this example can be seen eccentric and humouristic but it is the exact shallow consciousness of the bigot societies. Ursula’s fluid and cozy manner of story telling leaves gaps to be filled in and it is perceived that ideology can be told as a compehension modality to feel and shape one’s morality without making manipulations and oppressions like a politician.
Literature is also a culture mirror and ,according to Georg Lukacs, ideology must locate itself naturally to the text, without losing the aspects of reality and knowing that man is a social living and, from this perspective, this short story is realistic enough and well combination of ideological and moral values. In post colonial lens and slavery context, Omelas can be seen as the colony paradise where the wealthy people rules the others as a source of financial prosperity and absorb their soul like a vampire.
In a world like Omelas, the people that already been born in that society and the souls that never get a real connection to the broken soul cannot realize the corruption of their cultural and socio-economic values. According to Marx (1859), “It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness”. The better understanding and perceiving of ideologies with different perspectives might be achieved through literature and art when the language is used as a cultural mirror, without any manipulation.