"The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" Book Illustrations

Three illustration spreads for a hypothetical book of the Ursula K. Le Guin short story, "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas." Done in watercolor, gouache and color pencil.

"But even granted trains, I fear that Omelas so farstrikes some of you as goody-goody. Smiles, bells, parades, horses, bleh. If so, pleaseadd an orgy. If an orgy would help, don't hesitate. Let us not, however, have templesfrom which issue beautiful nude priests and priestesses already half in ecstasy andready to copulate with any man or woman, lover or stranger, who desires union with thedeep godhead of the blood, although that was my first idea. But really it would be betternot to have any temples in Omelas- at least, not manned temples. Religion yes, clergyno. Surely the beautiful nudes can just wander about, offering themselves like divinesoufflés to the hunger of the needy and the rapture of the flesh. Let them join theprocessions. Let tambourines be struck above the copulations, and the glory of desirebe proclaimed upon the gongs, and (a not unimportant point) let the offspring of thesedelightful rituals be beloved and looked after by all. One thing I know there is none of inOmelas is guilt. But what else should there be? I thought at first there were not drugs,but that is puritanical. For those who like it, the faint insistent sweetness of drooz mayperfume the ways of the city, drooz which first brings a great lightness and brilliance tothe mind and limbs, and then after some hours a dreamy languor, and wonderful visionsat last of the very arcana and inmost secrets of the Universe, as well as exciting thepleasure of sex beyond belief;"

                                                                                                                         - Ursula K. Le Guin (The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas)

"Do you believe? Do you accept the festival, the city, the joy? No? Then let me describeone more thing.In a basement under one of the beautiful public buildings of Omelas, or perhaps in thecellar of one of its spacious private homes, there is a room. It has one locked door, andno window. A little light seeps in dustily between cracks in the boards, secondhand froma cobwebbed window somewhere across the cellar. In one corner of the little room acouple of mops, with stiff, clotted, foul-smelling heads stand near a rusty bucket. Thefloor is dirt, a little damp to the touch, as cellar dirt usually is. The room is about threepaces long and two wide: a mere broom closet or disused tool room. In the room a childis sitting. It could be a boy or a girl. It looks about six, but actually is nearly ten. It isfeeble-minded. Perhaps it was born defective, or perhaps it has become imbecilethrough fear, malnutrition, and neglect. It picks its nose and occasionally fumblesvaguely with its toes or genitals, as it sits hunched in the corner farthest from the bucketand the two mops. It is afraid of the mops. It finds them horrible. It shuts its eyes, but itknows the mops are still standing there; and the door is locked; and nobody will come.The door is always locked; and nobody ever comes, except that sometimes- the childhas no understanding of time or interval- sometimes the door rattles terribly and opens,and a person, or several people, are there. One of them may come in and kick the childto make it stand up. The others never come close, but peer in at it with frightened,disgusted eyes"

                                                                                                                         - Ursula K. Le Guin (The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas)

"But there is one more thing totell, and this is quite incredible.At times one of the adolescent girls or boys who go to see the child does not go hometo weep or rage, does not, in fact, go home at all. Sometimes also a man or womanmuch older falls silent for a day or two, and then leaves home. These people go out intothe street, and walk down the street alone. They keep walking, and walk straight out ofthe city of Omelas, through the beautiful gates. They keep walking across the farmlandsof Omelas. Each one goes alone, youth or girl, man or woman. Night falls; the travelermust pass down village streets, between the houses with yellow-lit windows, and on outinto the darkness of the fields. Each alone, they go west or north, towards themountains. They go on. They leave Omelas, they walk ahead into the darkness, andthey do not come back. The place they go towards is a place even less imaginable tomost of us than the city of happiness. I cannot describe it at all. It is possible that it doesnot exist. But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away fromOmelas."

                                                                                                                         - Ursula K. Le Guin (The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas)

Spreads with text

Thumbnails and Color Studies

Using Format