[Note: Plot spoilers are ahead!]
When I read this piece I cannot help but think of this story’s illustrations. This is a society literally built upon the pain and suffering of a single child. This is expressed through the child’s placement as a cornerstone in the basement of a large important building. The child’s suffering is essential for the peaceful existence of the rest of the dystopia.
LeGuin herself stated that the short story was modeled after Henry James’ interpretation of the scapegoat, being an individual that takes the sins of others upon themselves for the sake of the continuity of a community. After doing some research, however, I found an essay by Elsa Nettels called “The Scapegoats and Martyrs of Henry James,” that explores James’ use of the scapegoat in his own fiction. James’ interpretation usually included that the scapegoat was decidedly similar to a martyr in that he or she decided to carry the weight of