Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? | Study Guide

Philip K. Dick

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Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? | Chapter 17 | Summary



After Rick Deckard and Rachael Rosen have sex, they enjoy room service and talk. Rachael shares the fact that androids have a very limited life span—they live for four years before the android metabolism breaks down. Deckard and Rachael dress and go to his hovercar. As they fly to look for the androids, they talk. Deckard says he would marry Rachael if she he could. Rachael explains that he won't be able to keep hunting androids now that they have slept together. She goes on to say none of the nine other bounty hunters she has slept with could go on, except for Phil Resch. Deckard is stunned to learn that he is just one of many, and that their sexual activity was part of an android plan. Deckard protests that sleeping with her hasn't changed his perspective, and he will be able to retire the androids. She says she can tell. Deckard dismisses her claimed insight and says he'll be able to kill all the rogue androids, and will kill her as well.

Rachael tries to find something in her purse (probably a weapon), then gives up and asks Deckard to kill her carefully. Deckard parks the car and gets out his laser, but can't kill her. She thanks him, and then argues this shows she was right and he won't be able to kill the androids. She tells him to go home to his wife and goat, and mocks him for how much he cares about the goat. When Deckard doesn't speak, she turns on the radio so they can listen to the "Buster Friendly" show. When Deckard turn the show off, she turns it back on, claiming Friendly will say something important on that evening's show.


If the last chapter was Rick Deckard's great triumph, this one is a great reversal, and one of his lowest points in the novel. Not only did Rachael Rosen not love him, she wasn't telling the truth. Not only will she not be helping him kill her fellow androids, she slept with him as part of a conscious plan to change his orientation and make him unable to complete his job. Finally, not only is Deckard not special to her, he is not even one of a kind. Instead, he is part of a series of male bounty hunters she has slept with to change their minds. Here, Rachael reveals herself to be a "femme fatale." The femme fatale is a common figure in detective fiction, especially hard-boiled detective fiction. The woman who seems too good and beautiful to be true turns out to be using her sexuality to manipulate the male detective. She is a kind of trickster figure, and this description definitely applies to Rachael Rosen.

However, Rachael also does something much more subtle and complicated. Before they slept together, Rachael revealed to Deckard that she and Pris Stratton were the same type of android. Part of the tragedy of her existence—along with her short life—is that Rachael knows she is not an original, but instead just a type. In this chapter, one of the reversals Rachael performs on Deckard is to change him from an individual to just one of a category. He is so standard a type that she knows what sleeping with her will do to him. Also, as an experienced bounty hunter, Deckard should be able to read Rachael. Instead, in this chapter she reads him, predicting his actions better than he can.

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