An analysis of lexical opposition: Le Guin's “the ones who walk away from Omelas”

Trimarco, Paola (1999). An analysis of lexical opposition: Le Guin's “the ones who walk away from Omelas”. Journal of Literary Studies, 15(3-4) pp. 407–424.



The creation of contrasting worlds within a given text is a common literary technique in fictional prose. While such contrasts are invoked by some sort of “textual” parallelism, the term “parallelism” in literary stylistics is usually reserved for the specific study of text units, namely sentences in prose and lines in poetry. Furthermore, studies in fictional prose have approached textual parallelism with focus on narrative style or organisation of text, and not the stylistic effects at the lexical level. To examine such parallelism in terms of lexis, one needs to visit semantic theories, where the terminology to describe lexical opposites exists; it does so, however, apart from literary studies, and subsequently, requires expansion. Thus, this paper examines lexical opposition in fictional prose by offering a taxonomy based primarily on D.A. Cruse (1988) and applying it to the parallelism found in Ursula Le Guin's short story “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas”. Specifically, following a discussion of the general features of language found in the Le Guin text, this study focuses on the use of adjectives as lexemes of semantic opposition.

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