Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? | Study Guide

Philip K. Dick

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Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? | Chapter 7 | Summary



As John Isidore hurries to get ready to work, he keeps thinking about Pris Stratton, and what she does and doesn't know. He observes that she doesn't know Buster Friendly, which leads him to think about the relative importance of Buster Friendly and Wilbur Mercer. Soon, Isidore is driving the company truck and picking up broken animals, including a malfunctioning cat he takes to the animal repair hospital. As he drives, Isidore thinks about how realistic the cat is. He tries to recharge it but can't find an outlet, so the cat dies. He drives on, listening to Buster Friendly on the radio, and thinking about how Buster always seems to attack Mercer and Mercerism.

Once Isidore arrives at work, he brings the broken cat to his boss, Hannibal Sloat, who realizes the cat was real, and criticizes him for not realizing it. Milt Borogrove, the other worker, speaks up for Isidore, arguing that fake animals have gotten so good, they could fool almost anyone. Sloat is still angry, and tells Isidore to call the cat's owners to let them know their cat died. Isidore doesn't want to, and stutters from nerves. However, once he is on the phone, he regains his confidence and takes control the situation. The company ends up offering to make an artificial cat to replace the dead one.


This chapter offers an example of situational irony. John Isidore works for a company that repairs artificial animals. He knows just how good the imitations have become. However, when the cat is in pain, he continues to assume it is a fake, rather than realizing the cat is real. The cat dies in part because Isidore doesn't realize it is real.

Although he is supposedly mentally limited, in this chapter Isidore shares an insight that is very profound and truer than readers know, when he thinks of the two influences on people—Buster Friendly and Wilbur Mercer—as fighting for control of the human soul. In this instance, it seems to be a battle between shallow commercial entertainment (Buster Friendly) and profound religious truths (Wilbur Mercer). However, as is often the case in Philip K. Dick's fiction, the reality is more complicated. As Dick will reveal late in the novel, this is also a battle between an android (Buster Friendly) and a myth constructed in part by special effects and acting (Mercerism). This isn't just a battle for the human soul—as important as that would be. This is a battle between two kinds of social systems (capitalism versus religion) and definitions of reality.

On a smaller note, this chapter provides another parallel between Rick Deckard and Isidore. Both get the chance to rise to new challenges at work, and both do well. Isidore proves he can talk to customers in difficult situations, and Deckard outperforms the standard test in identifying androids.

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