Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? | Study Guide

Philip K. Dick

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Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? | Chapter 21 | Summary



Rick Deckard lands in the wasteland. He thinks about being the "greatest bounty hunter" ever, and decides to call Dave Holden. However, when he calls the hospital, Holden isn't well enough to take calls.

Deckard walks up a hill, thinking. A stone flies through the air and hits him. He sees a figure, and realizes he is in a vision of Mercerism. He hurries back to his car. He tries to call Harry Bryant, but Bryant is not available, so he talks to his secretary, Ann Marsten. The secretary tells Deckard he looks like Wilbur Mercer, and advises him he needs rest. She then tries to coax him into coming back to civilization. Deckard shares his vision of becoming Mercer, then agrees to call his wife. He starts to call her, then stops.


In this chapter Rick Deckard tries to make sense of what he has done. In trying to call Dave Holden, Deckard is trying to sort through what happened by talking to someone who has been through something similar. When that fails, Deckard moves into the philosophical and spiritual realms, reflecting on the differences between Dave Holden and Wilbur Mercer. Even though he had done the same things Deckard did, Holden wouldn't have been able to understand the way Mercer would, because Mercer accepts all. Deckard then goes on to a very profound realization: his actions have alienated him from himself. His actions made him "an unnatural self." This is the dramatized version of the concerns Philip K. Dick would express in his 1972 lecture, The Android and The Human. Deckard has systematically dehumanized himself through his actions. Dick never specifies whether the damning actions are killing the androids, cheating on his wife, falling for an android, or a combination thereof.

Directly after Deckard reaches this damning conclusion about himself, he finds himself in a vision of Mercerism. Instead of being cut off from Mercer, Deckard becomes Mercer, right down to the ritual wounds from thrown rocks. He then recognizes he has done something completely new, because he is fused with Mercer without his empathy box. Deckard and his reality are fundamentally different. However, as the next chapter will show, this difference may not make a difference.

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