Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? | Study Guide

Philip K. Dick

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Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? | Quotes

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1.

In a giant, empty, decaying building which had once housed thousands, a single TV set hawked its wares to an uninhabited room.


Narrator, Chapter 2

The place where Isidore lives captures capitalism after the nuclear war. Ads are still broadcast and shows still sponsored—but to an almost depopulated world. The line is at once literally true, symbolic of the current situation, and poetically depressing.

2.

Evidently the humanoid robot constituted a solitary predator.


Rick Deckard, Chapter 3

Rick Deckard reflects on the nature of androids and how they relate to humanity. It is a good example of dramatic irony—where the audience knows something the character doesn't—because Deckard makes his living as a predator: he lives because he kills androids. He works alone, even when his boss orders him to work with a partner, while the androids work together (however poorly) at the end of the book.

In the end, Deckard thinks he is thinking about androids, but he is really thinking about himself.

3.

It, he thought. She keeps calling the owl it.


Rick Deckard, Chapter 5

This clue tips Rick Deckard off that Rachael Rosen is an android. It shows how important empathy is when distinguishing between androids and humans in this novel. It also shows how good Deckard is at his job. Rachael fooled the formal diagnostic test Deckard used on her, but his experience lets him read her as an android anyway.

4.

You're not Polokov, you're Kadalyi.


Rick Deckard, Chapter 8

Appearing to be a misstatement, a moment when Rick Deckard accidentally says the wrong thing, he realizes that the man (Kadalyi) isn't human, but instead is the android he is hunting. However, this accident turns out really well for him: Polokov corrects him; thus, confirming he is an android.

This line also shows how subtle and complex reality is in Philip K. Dick's fiction: a verbal stumble reveals a deeper truth, even the nature of a man's being.

5.

We're a closed loop, cut off from the rest of San Francisco.


Garland, Chapter 11

In many ways, since World War Terminus (WWT), humans have been cut off from one another, connecting only via the empathy box and Mercerism, which, it turns out, is itself a closed loop. The line is both a literal description of the androids' setup and a symbolic one of the humans'.

6.

So much for the distinction between authentic living humans and humanoid constructs.


Rick Deckard, Chapter 12

The observation marks how completely this day has changed Rick Deckard. His feelings toward humans and robots recently have been the reverse of what they should have been. This is a tremendous warning sign, because his instincts are all that have kept him alive in the encounter with the first rogue android.

7.

You will be required to do wrong ... It is the basic condition of life.


Wilbur Mercer, Chapter 15

The statement establishes the fact that reality is ethically complex, and no one can live a completely pure life. There is no salvation, and Rick Deckard must proceed as if Wilbur Mercer doesn't exist. The result is an extremely isolated existence, one Deckard can never escape.

8.

It's just an illusion that I ... really exist; I'm just representative of a type.


Rachael Rosen, Chapter 16

On the surface, this is a statement of fact about androids. Knowing this is part of the psychological challenge of their existence. However, this statement would also be true for humans in a general sense: each person could be interpreted as a representative of a genetic programming, just as Rachael Rosen is a representation of mechanical programming.

This is also part of the Platonic philosophy Philip K. Dick appreciated. Greek philosopher Plato refers to this theory of ideal forms in several of his writing. In this model of reality, the things people see with their senses are just representations of ideal types.

9.

No bounty hunter has ever gone on ... After being with me. Except one.


Rachael Rosen, Chapter 17

Rachael Rosen reports this information as a factual observation and seems not to realize the tremendous impact it has on Rick Deckard. It is one of the worst revelations in the novel for Deckard. (The only revelation that is worse is when he finds out the toad at the end of the book isn't real.)

He has just broken the law to sleep with Rachael and told her that if it were legal, he would marry her. Deckard comes close to telling Rachael he loves her. She follows by revealing the fact that having sex was part of a plan on her part. Deckard had thought they shared spontaneous attraction. Instead, he is part of an android's plan for self-preservation.

10.

Mercerism is a swindle!


Buster Friendly, Chapter 18

Media personality Buster Friendly delivers the line with gusto, as if he has now demolished Mercerism, and with it, one of humanity's claims to superiority over androids. It turns out, however, that simply disproving the facts of Mercerism isn't enough to destroy it because people do not live by reason alone, like androids. Instead, they are capable of emotions such as empathy and faith, which androids cannot comprehend.

11.

There is no Pris ... Only Rachael Rosen, over and over again.


Rick Deckard, Chapter 19

On the literal level, the line refers to the fact that Rachael Rosen and Pris Stratton were the same kind of android. Rick Deckard claims there were no real differences between the two. On the emotional level, this line communicates Deckard's despair. Rachael manipulated and betrayed him. This line is saying that all women are this way: the only thing that will happen is women will betray him. It is one of the main points where reality blurs in the novel: if these two beings are essentially the same, in killing Pris he essentially killed Rachael.

The line is symbolic of Deckard's conundrum as an android hunter. He must forever perform the same rote work, much like John Isidore driving his truck. Except unlike Isidore, he is not creating or saving anything, only destroying.

12.

What a job to have to do ... I'm a scourge, like famine or plague.


Rick Deckard, Chapter 20

After a day spent hunting and killing androids, Rick Deckard reflects on the nature of his job. His whole life is killing. It is who he is, the same way the biblical figures from Revelation are death, or plague, or famine. He may be necessary, but what a terrible world he lives in that such an awful figure is a necessity.

13.

Everything is true ... Everything anybody has ever thought.


Rick Deckard, Chapter 20

Rick Deckard has reached a place where he can't distinguish between things any longer. Reality/illusion, true/false, living/inanimate—these are all the same now.

This also aligns with points Philip K. Dick made elsewhere about how personal experience relates to reality. In a 1964 essay for a science fiction fanzine on drugs and hallucinations, Dick argued that visions people call hallucinations or access via drugs are as real as any other perception.

14.

Mercer isn't a fake ... Unless reality is a fake.


Rick Deckard, Chapter 21

Buster Friendly has just revealed Wilbur Mercer is a fake, and Rick Deckard knows, factually, that Mercer is a fake. However, because Mercer carries an emotional truth and still appears to Deckard and others in visions, he is real. Mercer, therefore, becomes like other mythic or religious figures: the facts are inaccurate, but the value and experience followers receive are very real.

However, Philip K. Dick leaves another twist as an option: it is possible that everything is fake. Because Deckard is about to learn the toad he found is artificial, this becomes foreshadowing. Maybe nothing is real. In some ways, either option could be read as redemptive or as damning, depending on the reader's worldview.

15.

After I finished. I couldn't stop because there would be nothing left after I stopped.


Rick Deckard, Chapter 22

Over the course of the day, Rick Deckard has lost faith in his job and in the distinction between androids and humans. He also made a huge amount of money and then lost it. His goat is dead, and Wilbur Mercer has been exposed as a fraud.

Deckard has nothing left but momentum. At the same time, Deckard's statement of his personal identity here makes him sound like the description of Mercer found in Chapter 15: he is just an old person moving toward death, as we all are.

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