Learning check

1. Revision of vocabulary

No study aids.

a) Individually or in groups: translate the following words into English










inddrage i









































b) Individually or in groups: for each word find the corresponding noun.































Learning check

2. Revision of text. Say It!

In groups of three: student 1 names a square – for example B2 – and student 2 in the group has to carry out the task contained in the square. After that, student 2 names another square and student 3 has to carry out the task. Continue until all the tasks have been carried out. When you are given a task, talk for at least one minute. If the student who has to carry out the task needs help, he or she can ask the other students for help.






You are the atmosphere in the story.

What are you like? Do you change?

You are the narrator.

 Are you omniscient, and

what is your attitude to the reader?

You are the child.

What are you like?

How are you treated?


You are the society in Omelas.

Tell me all about yourself.

You are the inhabitants of Omelas.

Why do you keep the child in the basement?

You are one of the people who walk away from Omelas.

Why do you walk away? And where are you going?


You are Ursula Le Guin.

What kind of story is this? And what is its message?

You are the reader.

What role are you asked to play when reading the story?

Did you like the role?


You are the young people who come to see the child.

What is your reaction when you see it?

What happens to your reaction as time goes on?


Wider contexts

1. Literary context: written assignment: comparison with Shirley Jackson, “The Lottery”

a) Write a five-paragraph essay (1000-1200 words) in which you compare and contrast “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” and “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson on page 25. Focus on atmosphere, narration, characters, ending and theme. Use at least five words from pre-reading task 4.

b) Write an abstract of your essay.


Wider contexts

2. Written assignment: translation or summary: the article “Barnet i kosteskabet og samfundsetikken” by Inger Sjørslev, Weekendavisen 18th August, 2011

a) Give a summary of the article in 200 words.



b) Translate the first paragraph of the article into English.

I et stinkende, slimet, lavloftet rum af kosteskabsstørrelse og uden lys og varme sidder et barn i sit eget skidt med opsvulmet mave og sår på de tændstiktynde arme og ben. Barnet kommer aldrig ud. Det har intet sprog og ingen kontakt med mennesker, bortset fra at der af og til kommer nogen forbi og ser på det. De græder og græmmes. Men de går igen, og de fleste af dem kommer sig hurtigt over synet. De har nemlig lært at forstå, at dette barns dybe ydmygelse og ulykke er betingelsen for resten af befolkningen i Omelas’ lykke. Mange finder gode grunde til, at det må være sådan. De forsikrer sig om, at barnet alligevel må være for dumt og ufølsomt til at kunne værdsætte det, hvis man slap det ud og gav det kærlighed. Andre ser paradokset i øjnene og accepterer virkelighedens frygtelige uretfærdighed. Men så er der også dem, der vælger at forlade Omelas. En efter en, lige så stille, og uden at man ved, hvor de går hen.


Wider contexts

3. Cross-curricular assignment: essay and discussion (history /social science)

Is human degradation and misery an individual matter or it is a common social and political matter? Find arguments for and against. In your discussion/essay you must include the points made by Inger Sjørslev, mag.scient., in her article “Barnet i kosteskabet og samfundsetikken”,  Weekendavisen 18th August, 2011.


Wider contexts

4. Period context: Find some information about the period

Find some information about the period in which the text was written, i.e. the political, social and cultural aspects of American history in the late 1960s and early 1970s. You may for example look at the Vietnam War, the civil rights movement, the rise of the ‘counterculture’ in America (hippies, flower power, etc.). 

Does this knowledge enhance your understanding of Ursula Le Guin’s text? Discuss.


Wider contexts

5. Philosophical context: excerpt from Ursula Le Guin essay about the short story

Ursula Le Guin wrote a short essay about her short story entitled “The Scapegoat in Omelas” in 1975. The following text is an excerpt from her essay.

“The central idea of this psychomyth, the scapegoat, turns up in Dostoyevsky’s Brothers Karamazov, and several people have asked me, rather suspiciously, why I gave credit to William James. The fact is, I haven’t been able to re-read Dostoyevsky, much as I loved him, since I was twenty-five, and I had simply forgotten he used the idea. But when I met it in James’s ‘The Moral Philosopher and the Moral Life’, it was with a shock of recognition. Here is how James puts it:

‘Or if the hypothesis were offered us of a world in which Messrs. Fourier’s and Bellamy’s and Morris’s utopias should all be outdone, and millions kept permanently happy on the one simple condition that a certain lost soul on the far-off edge of things should lead a life of lonely torment, what except a specifical and independent sort of emotion can it be which would make us immediately feel, even though an impulse arose within us to clutch at the happiness so offered, how hideous a thing would be its enjoyment when deliberately accepted as the fruit of such a bargain?’

The dilemma of the American conscience can hardly be better stated. […]

Of course I didn’t read James and sit down and say, Now I´ll write a story about that ‘lost soul’. It seldom works that simply. I sat down and started a story, just because I felt like it, with nothing but the word ‘Omelas’ in mind. It came from a road sign: Salem (Oregon) backwards. […] O melas. Omelas. Homme hélas.”


a) Rephrase James’s text in your own words.

b) What is Le Guin’s reaction when she reads James’s text? Why?

c) What do the last two words mean?

d) Does the excerpt enhance your understanding of the short story?


Wider contexts

6. Historical and literary context: The Salem witch trials

Find information about the Salem witch trials (1692-93). Does it add to your understanding of the text? If so, how?