This is a comparison of two texts “A Good Man is hard to Find,” by Flannery O’Connor and a poem, “The Ones who walk away from Omelas” by Ursula K. Le Guin. The comparison is about the nature of punishment and sacrifice in the two books.
In the poem, “The Ones who walk away from Omelas,” Omelas is a Utopian City that is full of happiness and delight, and its natives are smart and mature. However, to attain this opulence and splendor, the people had to sacrifice a child. The child lived in a dirty and dark room all alone locked all the time except for the few times someone came to put some food and water.
The child’s life is full of punishment, as if it were carrying the burden of the whole city. It leaves in absolute solitude, ignored, emaciated, and scared despite its tender age. Its meals are just a half-bowl of corn meal and grease a day. It is naked, and sits and sleeps on its own excrement on the floor, making its buttocks and thighs a mass of festered sores.
It is unfortunate that the people in Omelas know about the child’s plight since they learn of it as children who can understand. Some go to see the child and usually feel angry and sickened but can do nothing since they know that sacrificing the child’s pleasures and replacing it with punishment is for the grace of the city. Indeed, to throw away the happiness of thousands for the chance of happiness of one would be a crime within the city walls.
In the book, “A Good man is hard to find,” focus is on a woman known only as Grandmother. She is a self-righteous woman who is not critical of her moral codes but is quick to judge others at the slightest chance. She is very selfish and spiteful. On the fateful morning, she arises earlier than the other family members do so that she can hide the cat in the family car as they prepare to go on a trip to Florida. She knows her child, Bailey, would agree to carry the cat so has to so secretly.
During the trip, Grandmother detours the family away from Florida on a dirt path she does not remember. A misfortune involving the cat causes an accident where, though no one is injured, it debilitates the car and the family has a fatal encounter with murderers, led by a serial killer called The Misfit. During the encounter, Grandmother tries to find a way to save Misfit’s soul by preaching to him but it becomes clear that she does so to try to save her life. Misfit kills all the family members.
From the above explanations, Omelas sacrifice the life of a child for the sake of the whole city. Grandmother, despite being religious, cannot sacrifice her pride when she realizes she has taken a wrong path. She cannot dare risk embarrassment. Grandmother cannot sacrifice even simple pleasures like carrying her pet cat, despite knowing that all family members would oppose it and in the end, her lack of sacrifice causes the demise of the entire family.
In the poem, the child is a victim of sacrifice, while in the book; grandmother is the unlikely antagonist who cannot sacrifice anything out of her comfort zone.