9. The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas (Edited) Variations on a theme by William James URSULA LE GUIN Objectives To understand the text To learn the useful words and phrases learn about an allegory story Teaching Contents 1. Introduction (10 min.) 2. Detailed study of the text (140 min.) 3. Structure analysis (5 min.) 4. Language appreciation (5 min.) 5. Summary of words and phrases(5 min) 6. Exercises (15 min) 1. Introduction The author: Ursula K. Le Guin is a wellknown science fiction and fantasy writer. Ursula Le Guin She was born in Berkeley, California in 1929. After graduating from Radcliff College, she took an M.A. degree at Columbia University. Her writings force us to re-examine many of the things that we once took for granted, like our cities, our political and social structures, etc. Ursula Le Guin She began writing during the 1950s, but not until the ‘60s did she begin publishing. Le Guin’s work has appealed to a wider audience than science fiction fans. Bringing a social scientist’s eye and a feminist’s sensibility to science fiction, she has employed this speculative genre to criticize contemporary civilization. Ursula Le Guin Many of her stories—like “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” (1974 Hugo Award)— create complex imaginary civilizations, envisioned with anthropological authority. Le Guin has also written poetry and juvenile fiction, including the Earthsea [video-2] trilogy, Wizard of Earthsea [video-2] (1968), The Tombs of Atuan [video-2] (1971), and The Farthest Shore [video-2] (1972), which rank among the classics of modern children’s literature. She lives in Porland, Oregon. Ursula Le Guin In an interview with Larry McCaffery the author explains why she likes the science fiction form. She says: “Science fiction allows me to help people get out of their cultural skins and into the skins of other beings. In that sense science fiction is just a further extension of what the novel has traditionally been. In most fiction the author tries to get into the skin of another person; in science fiction you are often expected to get into the skin of another person from another culture. William James (1842-1910) American philosopher William James He was born New York City and graduated from Harvard University in 1869 with a doctor of Medicine degree. In 1872 he joined the Harvard faculty as a lecturer on anatomy and physiology (生理学), continuing to teach until 1907 (3 years later he died), after 1880 in the department of psychology and philosophy. In 1890 he published his brilliant and epoch-making Principles of Psychology, in which the seeds of his philosophy are already discernible/ perceptive. William James James’s fascinating style and his broad culture and cosmopolitan outlook made him the most influential American thinker of his day. His philosophy has three principle aspects--his voluntarism, his pragmatism, and his “radical empiricism.” The text This text is taken from The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction. This writing may be called a piece of allegorical description. Allegory（讽喻） in literature, is a symbolic story that serves as a disguised representation for meanings other than those indicated on the surface. The characters in an allegory often have no individual personality, but are embodiments of moral qualities and other abstractions. Allegory The allegory is closely related to parable /religious teaching story, fable, /animal story, and metaphor, differing from them largely in intricacy and length. Although allegory is still used by some authors, its popularity as a literary form has declined in favor of a more personal form of symbolic expression. “Omelas” So "Omelas" should not be read as a realistic story. Le Guin is playing around with the old idea about "the greatest good for the greatest number" and taking it to its logical extreme. What if, magically, all the evil in the world could be heaped on one person and everyone else could be happy. Would it be worthwhile or would the injustice done to that one probably retarded child outweigh the good of all the rest. The ones who "walk away" are buying out of the system, refusing to accept their own happiness if it comes at the expense of someone else. On one level the story can be understood about the western world living off the suffering of the third world. On another level it can be understood about our society's refusal to accept the legitimacy of the plight of the poor. Note on “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas”: Ursula K. Le Guin once explained in one of her story collection The Wind’s Twelve Quarters 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 the credit to William James [video-2] The fact is, I haven’t been able to re-read Dostoyevsky, much as I loved him, since I was twenty-five, and I’d 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…. 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…. Salem … equals Peace. Melas. O melas. Omelas. “Where do you get your ideas from, Ms Le Guin?” From forgetting Dostoyevsky and reading road signs backwards, naturally. Where else? The general idea of the text: In this allegorical writing, Le Guin brings up a rather provocative theme, the nature of happiness and on what it depends. In the beginning, Le Guin fashions a utopian city, Omelas. It is celebrating the Festival of Summer. There is an air of excitement throughout the city with its clanging bells, flag-adorned boats, beautiful buildings and joyful processions. People march in procession to watch a horse race, which will begin very soon. Then Le Guin comments indirectly on the people of Omelas to convince that they are not simple but happy. According to her, their happiness is based on a just discrimination of what is necessary, what is neither necessary nor destructive, and what is destructive. They do without monarchy, slavery, or any commercial, political or military institution. There is no guilt in Omelas. People live a happy life which they love earnestly. However, Le Guin discloses the truth of Omelas’ happiness shortly, which shocks the readers. In a cellar in Omelas a child has been locked in a tiny room and mistreated for a very long time. All the happiness of Omelas is based on its suffering. The people of Omelas accept this as a terrible justice of reality and let the child’s misery go on. By this sharp contrast between the former happiness and the present cruelty, Le Guin draws the attention upon her theme—the nature and basis of happiness—should the happiness of the many be based upon the suffering of the few? But she provides no solution except an open, thought-provoking ending that some people leave Omelas after seeing the child. 2. Detailed study of the text “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”: In Ursula Le Guin's short story, "The ones who walk away from Omelas", she brings up the idea of the scapegoat who, by living a life of constant suffering, ensures that everyone else in the city of Omelas has the perfect, happy life. "They all know it is there, the people of Omelas... they all understand that their happiness, the beauty of their city, the tenderness of their friendships, the health of their children, the wisdom of their scholars, the skill of their makers, even the abundance of their harvests and the kindly weathers of their skies, depend wholly upon this child's abominable misery." Some people, of course, cannot accept the idea that to free the child would be to let misery into the lives of everyone in Omelas, to let in guilt, even if they accept that the child, ruined by its miserable life, would not be able to understand or indeed survive the free and joyous world outside its cell. These people cannot stand to live dependent on another's misery; they refuse to benefit from the child's suffering, though they make no apparent effort to help the child. In effect, they opt out of the system, and they don’t try to fix it. These are the ones who walk away from Omelas. Omelas is a fictional city of happiness envisaged by the writer. She describes emotionally and colorfully the city of Omelas and its citizens but it is a piece of allegorical description. In reality, however, she discourses on a rather provocative theme–the nature of happiness and on what it depends. What does Ursula Le Guin want to tell us through her story? Through her story the author wants to shock readers to think again about a philosophical question: could one be happy in a world that provided every perfection one could wish IF it depended on one person living in absolute misery? Variations on a theme by William James: The text discusses on a theme by William James. The author shows different ideas from William James’ theme concerning happiness and what it is based on. Para.1 the city of Omelas What does Paragraph 1 describe? the happy city of Omelas. Omelas is a port city by the sea with bright towers and houses with red roofs and painted walls. There are tree-lined avenues, moss-grown gardens, great parks and public buildings. Towards the north side of the city there is a great water-meadow called the Green Fields. Far off to the north and west are mountains with snowy peaks half encircling Omelas. The people there were joyously celebrating the Festival of Summer with music, dance and processions. Men, women and children except for the riders who were naked. The highlight of the celebrations was a horse race to be held on the great water-meadow called the Green Fields. So the whole city is immersed in happiness. With a clamor of bells …the city Omelas, brighttowered by the sea: The loud ringing of the bells, which sent the frightened swallows flying high, marks the beginning of the Festival of Summer in Omelas. bright-towered by the sea: Omelas is a port city by/near the sea. It had white towers that shone bright in the sun. The rigging of the boats in harbor sparkled with flags: The lines and chains on the ships were decorated with flags which were shining in the sun. rigging: lines and chains used aboard a ship especially in working sail and supporting masts and spars; the rigging [U]: all the ropes, chains, etc. that hold up a ship’s sails. e.g. The sailor climbed up the rigging to see if he could sight land. . In the streets … processions moved: The streets were lined with houses with red roofs and painted walls. Between the houses there were old moss-grown gardens. There were also avenues lined with shady trees. The city had many big parks and public buildings. There were many processions moving through the streets and avenues. In this long sentence, the main idea “processions moved” is at the end of the sentence. This is a good example of a long periodic sentence (圆周 句), preceded by a string of modifiers. Some were decorous: old people in long stiff robes of mauve and grey, grave master workmen, quiet, merry women carrying their babies and chatting as they walked. Some of these processions were marked by propriety and good taste, because they were made up of old people, grave master workmen and women carrying babies. There were no children or young people among them. In this long sentence, the main idea is at the beginning. This is an example of a loose sentence (松散句). The writer uses a vast variety of sentence structures. decorous: adj. fml. (of appearance or behavior) correct; showing proper respect for the manners and customs of society. e.g. Behavior that is decorous is polite and correct and doesn’t offend people. He gave his wife a decorous kiss. Teenage lovers are strolling decorously. mauve: adj. having a pale purple colour. n. sth. that is mauve is of a pale purple color e.g. mauve writing paper In other streets the music beat faster, a shimmering of gong and tambourine, and the people went dancing, the procession was a dance: In other streets the processions were different. The music was much faster and one could see the glimmering light reflected from gongs and tambourines. The people danced to the music as they moved forward. The whole procession was a dance. shimmer: shine with a soft tremulous [slightly shaking] light; glimmer Children dodged in and out…over the music and the singing: The children ran about playfully, now in and now out of the procession. Their highpitched shouting could be heard clearly above the music and singing like the calls of the swallows flying by overheard. dodge: v. to avoid (sth.) by moving suddenly aside. e.g. He dodged the falling rock and escaped unhurt. She dodged past me. infml. to avoid (a responsibility, duty, etc.) by a trick or in some dishonest way e.g. She somehow managed to dodge all the difficult questions. dodger: a tax dodger, a draft dodger 逃避服兵役 者 dodge: n. infml. a clever way of avoiding sth. or of deceiving or tricking sb. a tax doge逃税花招 synonyms: avoid, escape, avert, evade, elude avert: to prevent (sth. unpleasant) from happening e.g. An accident was averted by his quick thinking. evade: derog. to avoid (esp. a duty or responsibility), esp. using deception e.g. Give me a direct answer and stop evading the issue. elude: escape from esp. by means of a trick e.g. The fox succeeded in eluding the hunters by running back in the opposite direction. their high calls rising like the swallows’ crossing flights over the music and the singing: a simile flight: rising, settling or flying in a flock All the processions wound towards the north side of the city: The streets twisted and turned so the processions also twisted and turned as it moved forward to the north side of the city. wound: past participle of the verb wind to make (one’s way) in a winding or twisting course. where on the great water-meadow … exercised their restive horses before the race: This is an attributive clause modifying the north side of the city. The main structure of the clause is “where (on the great watermeadow) boys and girls exercised their restive horses before the race.” naked: This shows the boys and girls were very natural and unsophisticated. They did not feel there was anything wrong in being naked and barefoot. lithe: adj. (esp. of people or animals) able to bend and move easily and gracefully e.g. the lithe bodies of the dancers exercised their restive horses before the race: put their horses through some exercises because the horses were eager to start and stubbornly resisting the control of the riders restive: stubbornly resisting control; unruly; disobedient; unwilling to keep still or be controlled, nervous e.g. If you’re restive, you’re impatient, bored, or dissatisfied. The horses are restive tonight; there must be wolves about. The crew were restive and rebellious. restively: adv. restiveness n. The horses wore no gear at all but a halter without bit: The horses didn’t wear harness but a rope or leather band without bit. gear: n. the harness for a horse halter: a rope or leather band fastened round a horse’s head, esp. to lead it Bit: n. a metal bar, part of a bridle, that is put in the mouth of a horse and used for controlling its movements 马嘴子；马衔 Their manes were braided with streamers of silver, gold, and green: The manes of the horses were also decorated with small silver, gold and green flags. mane : n. the long hair along the top and sides of the neck of certain mammals, such as the horse and the male lion braid: v. interweave three or more strands of (hair, straw, etc.) streamer : a long narrow piece of colored paper, used sep. for decorating at parties; a long narrow flag They flared their nostrils and pranced and boasted to one another: The writer uses personification here by treating the horses as human beings. The horses open wider their nostrils, jumped about and seemed to be boasting to one another. All this shows the horses excitement before the race. flare: to (cause to ) open outwards, esp. to widen gradually towards to bottom e.g. flared trousers Her nostrils flared with anger. flare: n. a widening towards one end e.g. trousers with wide flares prance: v. (of animal, esp. a horse) to jump high or move quickly by raising the front legs and springing forwards on the back legs the horses being the only animal who has adopted our ceremonies as his own.: a nominative absolute construction and a continuation of personification. The horse was the only animal that considered the ceremonies of human beings as also their ceremonies. Far off to the north and west the mountains stood up half encircling Omelas on her bay: Far off to the north and west stood up the mountains half surrounding Omelas on her coast. the snow still crowning…the miles of sunlit air, under the dark blue of the sky: a very beautiful metaphor describing the sunlit snow peaks. The white snow peaks glowing with golden sunlight seemed to be on fire. The dark blue of the sky makes the golden peaks stand out more clearly. one could hear … and broke out into the great joyous clanging of the bells: The music through the streets far and near was as pleasant as the sweet perfume of flowers. The music was sometimes faint and distant but sometimes gathered in strength and finally climaxed in the joyous clanging of bells. farther and nearer and ever approaching: these words, in a grammatical way, also indicate the music movement heard from the starting place “farther” to the comparative degree “nearer” to the continuous tense “approaching,” stressing the distance is getting shorter and shorter. a cheerful faint sweetness of the air: a metaphor describing the beautiful music Para.2 questioning the joy of the Omelas people Joyous! How is one to tell about joy? How describe the citizens of Omelas? The very short paragraph is a special feature of this piece of writing. The writer uses two short questions to introduce two important subjects. In the next long paragraph she describes the people of Omelas and expresses her views on joy and happiness, which is the main theme of the writer. Para.3 the writer’s view on the joy, and the Omelas people But we do not say the words of cheer much any more: But the ordinary people do not mention words like happy and joy because being happy is their way of life and is no longer a problem. we: the ordinary people All smiles have become archaic: Smiling to show one’s happiness is old fashioned for there is no need of it now. Given a description such as this one tends to make certain assumptions: Assuming that the smiles are described in this way, people are inclined to explain why they are like this as they themselves imagine. After reading the above description the reader is likely to assume certain things. such as this: this refers to the above sentence: All smiles have become archaic. Given a description…by great-muscled slaves. After reading the above description the reader may assume that Omelas is a feudal kingdom where one can see the king riding a beautiful horse surrounded by noble knights or a golden litter carried by strong well-built slaves. litter : a covered and curtained couch provided with shafts and used for carrying a single passenger I do not know the rules and laws of their society, but I suspect that they were singularly few: I do not know what the rules and laws of their society are but I guess they were exceptionally few. singularly: exceptionally, unusually As they did without monarchy …and the bomb. They managed without monarchy and slavery. In the same way, they also managed without the stock exchange, the advertisement, the secret police, and the bomb. as…so…: in the same way as…, so… e.g. As water is the most important of liquids, so air is the most important of gases. As bees love sweetness, so flies love rottenness. As the wind blew harder, so the sea grew rougher. the bomb: it refers to the Bomb, atomic bomb, nuclear weapons do without: manage without; dispense with What things do the citizens of Omelas do not have? They do without monarchy and slavery and also without the stock exchange, the advertisement, the secret police, the bomb, the clergy and soldiers. They do not have cars nor helicopters. And one thing there is none of is guilt. these were not simple folk, not dulcet shepherds, noble savages, bland utopians: The citizens of Omelas were not a group of naïve people. They were not shepherds who had a melodious voice and were good at singing, nor primitive people who lived in a virtuous, innocent state uncorrupted by civilization, nor agreeable and courteous people who believed in a utopia, a perfect society. dulcet: lit. or humor (esp. of sounds) sweet and calming e.g. Dulcet sounds are gentle and pleasant to listen to; often used humorously. She spoke in dulcet tones. I wake up to the dulcet tones of the Radio Four news. bland adj. (of people or their behavior) showing no strong feelings or opinions or other noticeable qualities, esp. so as to avoid causing trouble or giving offence. e.g. Someone who is bland is calm, unexcited and polite. The radio station’s bland coverage of the election campaign温和报道 Manfred smiled his bland smile. (of food) without much taste This soup is too bland for me. shepherds: allusion, suggesting one of the historical symbols of pastoralism: a shepherd and his sheep. Pastoralism celebrated the innocent life of shepherds usually from an idealized Golden Age of rustic innocence and idleness. noble savages: allusion, referring to romantic literary figures in the 18th century, uncivilized, brave and kind utopians : allusion, referring to people believe in Utopia Sir Thomas More described in his novel— Utopia Sir Thomas More In 1516 the English statesman Sir Thomas More published a book that compared the condition of his England to that of a perfect and imaginary country, Utopia. Everything that was wrong in England was perfect in Utopia. More was trying to show how people could live together in peace and happiness if they only did what he thought was right. But the name he gave his imaginary country showed that he did not really believe perfection could ever be reached. Utopia means, literally, "no place," since it was formed from the Greek ou, meaning "no, not," and topos, "place." Since More's time, utopia has come to mean "a place of ideal perfection." Over the years many books similar to Utopia have been written, and many plans for perfect societies proposed, most of them impractical. Utopia has also come to mean any such scheme or plan. The trouble is that…considering happiness as something rather stupid: The writer begins to criticize the views of pedants and sophisticates. Ordinary people have got into the bad habit of considering happiness to be something stupid. This view was encouraged by people who consider themselves learned and worldly-wise. pedant: n. derog. a person who pays too much attention to small details and unimportant rules; scholar; theorist; academician pedantic adj. sophisticate: man of the world; cosmopolitan Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting: These pedants and sophisticates declare that only pain stimulates the intellect and only evil arouses the interests of people. intellectual: adj. intellect; rational; logical; reasoning; thoughtful; thinking; meditative n. a person who has a good reasoning ability and can use it in their work intellect: n. a person who has a good reasoning ability This is the treason of the artist: a refusal to admit the banality of evil and the terrible boredom of pain: An artist betrays his trust when he does not admit that evil is nothing fresh nor novel and pain is very dull and uninteresting. treason: n. [U] betrayal of trust or faith; treachery; great disloyalty and deceit; unfaithfulness; betrayal of one’s country e.g. to commit treason banality: n. quality of being commonplace; uninteresting Why do people hold that “Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting”? Why is this “the treason of the artist”? People hold this kind of opinion because the artist betrays their trust. They trusted the artist to find happiness for them. When the artist realizes the difficulty of this task, he gives it up. To an artist, evil is common and pain is uninteresting. But he is not willing to accept that evil is commonplace and that pain is terribly boring. Instead, he uses them as valuable subjects for his artistic creation, which mislead people into thinking only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting. Here the author refutes this view by pointing out evil is banal and pain is terrible boring. If you can’t lick ‘em, join ‘em: If you cannot beat evil then become evil yourself. This idea is put forward as an aphorism, maxim. It explains why the artist betrays. As they can’t defeat evil, they accept it and express it in their work. If it hurts, repeat it: If something hurts, then repeat it and you will not feel the pain as strongly as you did at first. Another aphoristic statement. But to praise despair is…to lose hold of everything else: a parallel sentence. The writer declares if you praise despair (can’t lick ‘em), then you condemn delight and if you accept violence (repeat it ) then you, in reality, give up everything else. But once we praise despair, we oppose happiness too. Once we accept violence, we lose control of everything else too. They were not naïve and happy children— though their children were, in fact, happy: The people of Omelas were not like happy, simple and innocent children, though their children were happy. They were mature, intelligent, passionate adults whose lives were not wretched: They were fully developed and intelligent grown-up people full of intense feelings and they were not miserable people. What are the people of Omelas like? They are not simple though happy. They are not barbarians, shepherds or utopians. They are not less complex than ordinary people. They are not naïve and happy children. They are mature, intelligent, passionate adults. These people have a feeling of boundless and generous contentment and a sense of magnanimous triumph, a triumph over life. They have compassion for the suffering but they are also pragmatic and accept reality. a city in a fairy tale, long ago and far away, once upon a time: Fairy tales generally begin in this way: “Once upon a time, long ago in a country far away…” Perhaps it would be best…assuming it will rise to the occasion: Perhaps it would be best if the reader pictures Omelas to himself as his imagination tells him, assuming his imagination will be equal to the task. fancy: n. imagination bid: v. try, attempt for certainly I cannot suit you all: For certainly I cannot describe Omelas in such a way as to satisfy all of you. Happiness is … what is necessary, what is neither necessary nor destructive: This is the writer’s basic view on happiness. To achieve happiness one must be able to distinguish properly what things are necessary, what things are neither necessary nor destructive, and what is destructive. What things are considered unnecessary but undestructive by the writer? In the middle category—that of the unnecessary but understructive –the writer lists the following: central heating, subway trains, washing machines, beer and even a not habit forming drug like drooz, and all kinds of marvelous devices not yet invented, floating light sources, fuelless power, a cure for the common cold. In the middle category…well have central heating, subway trains, washing machines: In the middle group things that are neither necessary nor destructive, things that bring comfort, luxury, abundance, etc, —they could have such things as central heating, subway trains, washing machines, etc. exuberance: quality of being vigorous, luxuriant and abundant; enthusiasm; abundance; e.g. The exuberance of the jungle amazed the travelers. She is always greeted him with the same exuberance. exuberant: adj. Someone who is exuberant is full of energy, excitement, and cheerfulness. e.g. the exuberant director of the Theatre Royal. (Of plants) growing strongly and plentifully exuberantly: adv. e.g. Children danced exuberantly around the tree. Or they could have none of that: it doesn’t matter: It doesn’t matter whether they have these things or not. They can be just as happy without them. As you like it: Picture Omelas to be as you like it to be or as your fancy bids. One thing I know there is none of in Omelas is guilt: The clause “there is none of” is an attributive clause. I know one thing that there is none of in Omelas is guilt. I know that one thing Omelas does not have is guilt. I thought at first there were no drugs, but that is puritanical: At first I though there would be no drugs but that is being too severe and rigid. puritanical: too rigid and severe morally; derog. like a puritan e.g. a puritanical father who wouldn’t let his children watch television. the faint insistent sweetness of drooz may perfume the ways of the city: the faint but compelling sweet scent of the drug drooz may fill the streets of the city drooz: a fictional name for a pleasant but not habit-forming drug which first brings a great lightness and brilliance to the mind and limbs: the drug first makes your hands and feet seem light and your mind more keen and alert then after some hours a dreamy languor… inmost secrets of the Universe: after some hours you fall into a lazy dream and have wonderful visions revealing the most mysterious and deepest secrets of the universe languor: [U] lit. pleasant tiredness of mind or body; lack of strength or will; pleasant or heavy stillness e.g. the languor of a hot summer’s afternoon pl. a feeling or state of mind of tender sadness and desire the languors of a lovesick poet一个害相思病 的诗人的抑郁心情 languid adj. without strength or any show of effort; slow esp. in a graceful way e.g. She stretched out a languid arm to brush the cigar ash off the couch. languish v. (in) to experience long suffering; to be or become weaker e.g. The plants are languishing because of lack of water. arcana: n. plural of arcanum, secret or mysterious knowledge known only to the initiate arcane: adj. lit. mysterious and secret; esoteric; as well as exciting the pleasure of sex beyond all belief: It also increases the pleasure of sex enormously What is the writer’s view on drugs? She thinks to ban drugs completely would be puritanical. She permits the use of drooz, a drug that brings great lightness and brilliance to the mind and limbs and vastly increases all the pleasures of the senses but it must not be habitforming. However, she thinks many of them would not need to take drooz because they are already so happy and content. For more modest tastes I think there ought to be beer. For those people who consider drugs to be too strong there will be beer. The joy built upon successful slaughter is not the right kind of joy: The joy that is based on successfully killing a lot of people is not the right kind of joy. A boundless…this is what swells…life: What fills the hearts of the people of Omelas with joy and pride is a feeling of great and unlimited contentment. They also feel a courageous triumph not over some outer enemy but in sharing with all that is fine and fair in the souls of all men and in the grandeur of the world’s summer. The triumph they celebrate is the victory of life. magnanimous: having, showing, generosity communion: fml. lit. the sharing or exchange of deep thoughts, ideas, and feelings, esp. of a religious kind e.g. communion with nature, a mystical communion between man and God through the long hours of the night he held communion with the condemned man. Para.4 the processions at the Green Fields provisioners : providers, suppliers The faces of small children are amiably sticky; in the benign grey beard of a man a couple of crumbs of rich pastry are entangled: The faces of the likeable children are sticky from eating sweet things and there are also crumbs of rich pastry in the grey beard of a kind and gentle old man. Notice the use of amiable and benign as transferred epithet. benign: adj. kind and gentle e.g. a benign nature / smile和蔼的性情/微笑 (of a disease) not dangerous to life e.g. a benign tumour benignly: adv. e.g. to smile benignly for he never ceases playing and never sees them, his dark eyes wholly rapt in the sweet, thin magic of the tune: for he never stops playing the flute and doesn’t pay attention to the people who stop to listen to his playing for his eyes are fully concentrated in the sweet and lightly enchanting tune he is playing. rapt: adj. giving one’s whole mind; engrossed e.g. We listened to her amazing story with rapt attention. cease doing: stop doing e.g. He was going to cease worrying about business. She ceased talking and went on stitching. The factory has ceased making bicycles. The officer ordered him to cease his whistling immediately. cease to do: (no longer) e.g. They ceased to trouble themselves about him. The matter has ceased to be a mystery to anyone. Cease: + n. e.g. At last they have ceased work(ing). The general ordered his troops to cease fire. The factory will cease operations next week. Para.5 the stop of playing the flute as the signal Paragraph 6. celebration of the Festival of Summer As if that little private silence were the signal: When the child stopped playing the flute there ensured a short silence and it seemed to be a signal for the horse race to start. All at once ...line: imperious,melancholy, piercing: Suddenly from a pavilion near the starting line of the horse race, a commanding, sad and shrill note of a trumpet sounds. imperious: arrogant; imperious manner imperative e.g. some of them neigh in answer: some of the horses seem to neigh in answer to the call of the trumpet some of them neigh in answer: some of the horses seem to neigh in answer to the call of the trumpet Sober-faced, the young riders…“Quiet, quiet, there my beauty, my hope….”: Serious looking young riders pass their hands gently over the horses’ necks and calm them, and call them tenderly, “Quiet, quiet, my beautiful horse, my hope for winning the race….” sober-faced: serious looking face stroke: v. to pass the hand over gently, esp. for pleasure e.g. The cat likes being stroked. He stroked his beard reflectively. The crowds along the racecourse are like a field of grass and flowers in the wind: a simile. The crowds moving about along the racecourse were swaying back and forth like grass and flowers in the wind. Para. 7 the author leading readers into disbelief Do you believe? Do you accept the festival, the city, the joy? No? Then let me describe one more thing: Another short paragraph to introduce the next important subject: the suffering and misery of a child upon which is based the joy and happiness of the citizens of Omelas. Why don’t people understand the happiness of Omelas? People don’t understand the happiness of Omelas because people are persuaded to work hard and obtain achievements and forget to pursue happiness at all. They consider that happiness is a stupid thing. Para.8 the suffering of the child In what kind of a room is the child imprisoned? It looks like a broom closet or a disused tool room in the basement or cellar of a beautiful public building or a spacious private home. It has a locked door and no window. A little light seeps in between cracks in the boards. In one corner a couple of mops, with stiff, clotted, foul-smelling heads, stand near a rusty bucket. The floor is dirt and damp. A little light seeps… across the cellar: A little light that appears in the dusty room does not come directly from a window for the room has no windows but from a cobwebbed window across the cellar. This light seeps into the room through the cracks in the boards of the room. seep: v. (of a liquid or gas) to make its way gradually through small openings in a material e.g. Water had seeped into the house through cracks in the roof. Blood seeped through the bandage. a couple of mops, with stiff, clotted, foulsmelling heads: the heads of the mops have become stiff thick lumps and evil smelling (because they have not been rinsed clean after constant use). head: the highest or uppermost part of a thing. clot: v. form into clot, mass, lump The floor is dirt, a little damp to the touch: The floor of the cellar was compacted earth and felt damp when you touched it. dirt: earth or garden soil; compacted earth to the touch: when felt e.g. A cat’s fur is soft to the touch. It’s cold to the touch. The stone felt cold to the touch. similarly: to the eye: These problems are to the eye rather complex. to the ear: That music is very pleasing to the ear. a mere broom closet or disused tool room: it was nothing more or other than a small room for keeping brooms or a tool room no longer in use. mere: nothing more or other than; only feeble-minded: very stupid It could be a boy or a girl: The author thinks it is not important whether it is a boy or a girl. She uses “it” for the child from now on, and regards it not as a person at all. Perhaps it was born defective,… imbecile through fear, malnutrition, and neglect: Perhaps the child was mentally retarded because it was born so or perhaps it has become very foolish and stupid because of fear, poor nourishment and neglect. defective: adj. having a imperfect; faulty defect or defects; imbecile: adj. showing feeble intellect; foolish or stupid It picks its nose and occasionally fumbles vaguely with its toes or genitals: The subnormal child uses its fingers to remove things from its nose and sometimes without any specific intention plays with its toes or sex organs as it does not know what to do. genitals: the reproductive organs It is afraid of the mops. It finds them horrible. It shuts its eyes, but it knows the mops are still standing there; and the door is locked; and nobody will come. A series of short sentences is used here to indicate that the child is not at ease, and he is always in fear. the child has no understanding of time or interval; The child doesn’t understand what time means and has no idea of how much time has passed from one incident to another. frightened, disgusted eyes: transferred epithet It is so thin there are no calves to its legs; its belly protrudes: The child’s legs are very thin with no calves but its stomach is swollen. This is due to undernourishment and disease. Its buttocks and thighs are a mass of festered sores, as it sits in its own excrement continually: The buttocks and thighs of the child are covered with sores that are filled with pus because of the unsanitary conditions as it sits continually on its own excrement. fester: v. infect, inflame, or corrupt, decay sore: n. a painful usu. infected place on the body pus: n. a thick yellowish liquid produced in an infected wound excrement: waste discharged from the body What is the imprisoned child like? It may be a boy or girl who looks about six, but actually is nearly ten. It is feeble-minded. Perhaps it was born defective, or perhaps it has become imbecile through fear, malnutrition and neglect. It is so thin there are no calves to its legs. Its belly protrudes. It is naked. Its buttocks and thighs are a mass of festered sores. Para.9 all the happiness based on this child’s abominable misery They all know it is there… others are content merely to know it is there…. Everyone in Omelas knows about the child. And they all understand that their happiness is based on this child’s abominable misery. Para.10 the young people’s attitude toward the child: anger, outrage, impotence They feel disgust, which they had thought themselves superior to: They experienced a strong feeling of dislike but before they saw the child they had thought they would not be affected by this kind of feeling, i.e. they would not be sickened at the sight. impotence: inability If the child…it were cleaned and fed and comforted, that would be a good thing, indeed; but if it were done, in that day and hour all the prosperity and beauty and delight of Omelas would wither and be destroyed. There’s a contrast in the sentence. vile: odious, foul, nasty Those are the terms: All the prosperity and beauty and delight of Omelas depend on one condition –they must do nothing to lighten the terrible misery of the child. terms: conditions of a contract, agreement, sale, etc. –that limit or define its scope or the action involved That would be to let guilt within the walls indeed: To throw away the happiness of thousands for the chance of the happiness of one would be a criminal thing to do. This would bring guilt into Omelas where there was none of it previously. the walls: the walls of Omelas Para.11 strict and absolute terms Para.12 the paradox: terrible justice of reality Often the young people…faced this terrible paradox: Often the young people, when they have seen the child, go home crying for they feel pity and compassion and want to do something to help it but they cannot or they feel great anger and outrage because they feel helpless bound by strict and absolute terms –they may not even say a kind word to the child, if they do they will lose everything. This is the paradox, the contradictory situation. They may brood over it for weeks or years: They may think about it sadly for weeks or years. brood over/ about: a. to spend time thinking anxiously or sadly about something, worry or ponder e.g. Don’t just sit there brooding (over your problems)—do something! He brooded over what she had said for several days. b. to hang closely e.g. Dark clouds were brooding over the city. Its habits are too uncouth for it to respond to humane treatment: The habits of the child are so crude and uncultured it will show no sign of improvement even if it is treated kindly and tenderly. Their tears at the bitter injustice dry when they begin to perceive the terrible justice of reality: They shed tears when they see how terribly unjust they have been to the child but these tears dry up when they realize how just and fair though terrible reality was. Yet it is … the splendor of their lives: However, it is their tears, which are shed when their generosity is put to the test, and their anger, when they realize their helplessness, that truly makes their lives splendid and grand. try: to put to the proof; test splendor: splendid and grand豪华， 美好景象 e.g. The king lived in great splendor in his palace. We were dazzled by the splendor of the royal wedding. I love the splendor of a royal procession. The splendor of the jewels made my eyes blink. The splendor of the Grand Canyon is incomparable. There is no vapid… Their happiness is not dull and uninteresting and it carries responsibilities with it. It implies that to get it, they must perform their duties of shedding tears and feeling angry, the trying of their generosity and the acceptance of their helplessness. vapid: boring adj. tasteless; flavorless; flat; dull; It is... that... the profundity of their science: emphatic sentence. The existence of the child and their knowledge of its existence is the reason that makes their buildings grand and impressive, their music moving and their science have great intellectual depth. poignancy : state or quality of being distressing to the feelings e.g. The poignancy of this song brought a tear to every eye. poignant: adj. emotionally touching or moving e.g. poignant memories of my old life in another country poignant sorrow/ regret profundity: intellectual depth snivell: v. to act or speak in a weak complaining crying way e.g. a snivelling coward I’ve warned you. If you fail, don’t come snivelling back to me. Do you agree with the author’s idea described in Paragraph 12 that it is the existence of the child, and their knowledge of its existence, that makes possible the nobility of their architecture, the poignancy of their music, the profundity of their science ? No, the idea is a fallacy. Para.13 introducing one more incredible thing and this is quite incredible: and this is quite unbelievable. This reveals the author’s opinion on walking away. incredible: unbelievable infml. Wonderful; unbelievably good Para.14 different attitude: walking away from Omelas Each one goes alone: It implies they are the few people. The place they go towards is a place even less imaginable to most of us than the city of happiness: The place they go to is even harder for us to imagine than the city of happiness, Omelas. I cannot describe it at all: I am unable to solve the problem and don’t ask for the solution from me. The last paragraph, however, stands out sharply from among all the others. It is the most interesting and thought-provoking paragraph. The writer puts forward the problem but does not supply the answers, thus allowing the readers to give free rein to their imagination. Who are these people? Question for you to think: What kind of people are these who walk away from Omelas? Are they idealists, nihilists, revolutionaries or perverts? Why are they leaving Omelas? Are they disgusted, frightened, saddened or just dissatisfied with Omelas? Where are they going? What are they going to do? Are they going to lead a life of seclusion in a monastery or hermitage far from this maddening world or are they going to found a new utopian city not based on any misery or suffering or what? Question for you to think: The text is an allegory story. Do you find in the story any implied criticism of our human society? Question for you to think: What does the locked, dark cellar in which the child sits suggest? 3. Structure analysis 1. Paras 1- 6: the happiness of the Omelas people A. the celebration of the Festival of Summer B. the author’s comment on the Omelas people and their happiness C. the joy of the Festival of Summer 2. Paras 7-9: the misery child in the cellar A. the misery and suffering of the child B. the relation between the child and the people 3. Paras 10-14: the people’s attitudes towards the child A. anger, outrage, impotence B. accepting the terrible justice of reality after their tears and anger C. walking away 4. Language appreciation This text is an allegorical story narrated in an unusual way. First, the author uses short four short paragraphs (2,7,11, and 13) to introduce new topics or ideas. These short paragraphs are more effective and forceful than ordinary topic sentences. Next, the author states her views while telling the story. For example, in paragraph 3, she exclaims, “O miracle! But I wish I could describe it better.” This informs readers that she is constructing this city in her mind. Two lines below that, she suggests to readers that they imagine the city on their own so that it can be at its best. In this way, she invites them to join her creation. Moreover, the writer uses a lot of specific words describing sound and color to paint a verbal picture of the city of Omelas and to describe the joyous celebrations that were being held. Here are a few examples: brighttowered, sparkled with flags, red roofs, painted walls, robes of mauve and grey, Green Fields, streamers of silver, gold and green, burned with white-gold fire, sunlit air, dark blue sky, a shimmering of gong and tambourine, a cheerful faint sweetness of the air, joyous clanging of bells, etc. Similarly she successfully paints a very vivid and poignant picture of the misery and suffering of the child. There is also a variety of sentence structures to be found: long periodic or loose sentences with a string of participial phrase modifiers, varied with short powerful sentences, short elliptical sentences, rhetorical questions, absolute constructions, etc. Besides these, there are also many figures of speech to be found, such as, similes, metaphors, personification and rhetorical questions . 5. Summary of words and phrases: Words of general use soar dodge lithe dulcet bland utopian intellectual treason banality lose hold of naïve fancy bids exuberance insistent dreamy languor communion entangle discrimination stroke seep clot to the touch feeble-minded imbecile closet whine protrude fester sore excrement abominable impotence vile paradox brood over vapid poignancy snivel profundity malnutrition Words related to a festival clamor procession decorous mauve a shimmering of gong and tambourine streamers of silver, gold, and green banners snap and flutter clanging of the bells contentment magnanimous triumph splendor amiably benign rapt in Words related to horses gear halter bit mane rigging restive prance neigh 6. Exercises: Paraphrase: 1) The loud ringing of the bells, which sent the frightened swallows flying high, marks the beginning of the Festival of Summer in Omelas. 2) Their high-pitched shouting could be heard clearly above the music and singing like the calls of the swallows flying by overheard. 3) put their horses through some exercises because the horses were eager to start and stubbornly resisting the control of the riders 4) Assuming that the smiles are described in this way, people are inclined to explain why they are like this as they themselves imagine. After reading the above description the reader is likely to assume certain things. 5) The citizens of Omelas were not a group of naïve people. They were not shepherds who had a melodious voice and were good at singing, nor primitive people who lived in a virtuous, innocent state uncorrupted by civilization, nor agreeable and courteous people who believed in a utopia, a perfect society. 6) An artist betrays his trust when he does not admit that evil is nothing fresh nor novel and pain is very dull and uninteresting. 7) They were fully developed and intelligent grown-up people full of intense feelings and they were not miserable people. 8) Perhaps it would be best if the reader pictures Omelas to himself as his imagination tells him, assuming his imagination will be equal to the task. 9) the faint but compelling sweet scent of the drug drooz may fill the streets of the city 10) Perhaps the child was mentally retarded because it was born so or perhaps it has become very foolish and stupid because of fear, poor nourishment and neglect. 11) The habits of the child are so crude and uncultured it will show no sign of improvement even if it is treated kindly and tenderly. 12) They shed tears when they see how terribly unjust they have been to the child but these tears dry up when they realize how just and fair though terrible reality was, and they accept the fact.