Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? | Study Guide

Philip K. Dick

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Course Hero, "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Study Guide," June 23, 2017, accessed June 19, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Do-Androids-Dream-of-Electric-Sheep/.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? | Chapter 15 | Summary

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Summary

Irmgard Baty votes to hide in the apartment. Roy Baty votes to kill John Isidore. Pris Stratton votes to stay, and accept Isidore's help, which gives Isidore a new sense of purpose.

That evening, after Rick Deckard finishes work, he visits pet stores. The Happy Dog Pet Shop salesman convinces him to buy a goat. They negotiate, but the final price is more than what Deckard can afford to pay. The down payment takes the entire $3,000 he has made in bounties thus far. When he takes the goat home, Iran Deckard admires it but worries about the expense. Their neighbor Bill Barbour sees them on the roof and congratulates them. Iran wants to tell everyone their sheep was fake, but Deckard resists. They go back to their apartment, where Iran uses the empathy box to commune with Mercer in gratitude for their goat. Deckard shares with Iran that he has started to empathize with the androids. She responds with practical concerns about his job and the cost of the goat. He reassures her he will change jobs. They try to work out the details of his possible career shift when Deckard's boss, Harry Bryant, calls to tell Deckard he has a line on where the rest of the androids are. Deckard says he needs to rest, but Bryant talks him into going after the androids.

After the call ends, Deckard takes his wife's place at the empathy box. He communicates directly with Wilbur Mercer. Mercer explains key but difficult principles, including the fact there is no salvation, and Deckard will have to act unethically no matter what path he follows. Deckard protests this message. Suddenly, someone in the shared reality throws a rock that hits him in the ear. Deckard lets go of the handles on the empathy box and exits the shared vision. He tells his wife he didn't get anything from the box, and Mercer is just an old man moving toward death. His wife suggests that is the revelation. Deckard leaves to go after the remaining androids. Once he is in his hovercar, he calls the Rosen Association and asks Rachael Rosen to come help him retire the remaining androids. When she resists, he asks her to fly down and share a hotel room with him. She agrees.

Analysis

The brief scene opening the chapter paints a tragic picture of John Isidore's limitations. He wants to be needed so badly he is willing to stay in the apartment with the androids even though Roy Baty voted to kill him. The scene also reveals a lot about the androids. Emotional flatness is one thing, but being completely casual about the possibility of killing someone reveals just how inhuman the androids are and how important emotions are in determining humanity.

The bulk of this chapter focuses on changes in Rick Deckard's life and character. His choice to spend all the bounty money on a goat reveals just how important animals are to people in this postapocalyptic world. It also reveals just how much control the capitalist structure has over people. Deckard has had a tremendously hard day and deserves a reward and a rest. He gets the goat—his reward—but only at the cost of putting himself in debt for a very long time. The conversation with Iran Deckard also reveals just how trapped Rick Deckard is. They have reversed positions from the start of the novel. In the novel's first pages, she calls him a "murderer hired by the cops" and expresses sympathy for "those poor andys." Now, when Deckard comes around to the same position, Iran reverses herself. She argues the conservative position: they need the money. Deckard can't win, even if it is a situation he helped create. This may be why he propositions Rachael Rosen in this chapter.

The ethical principles Wilbur Mercer explains also complicate Mercerism. The first glimpses of Mercer make him seem like a Christ-like figure. He suffers, and the humans who use the empathy box suffer with him. Now, though, Mercer explicitly states there is no salvation, which removes a key element of the parallel with Christ. Instead, he is more like an especially empathic version of Sisyphus, the figure from Greek mythology who was condemned to continually roll a rock up a hill but never reach the top.

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