Suspicion and Appearance in “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”

“‘But almost. You feel the same doing it; you have to keep your eye on it exactly as you did when it was really alive. Because they break down and then everyone in the building knows. I’ve had it at the repair shop six times, mostly little malfunctions, but if anyone saw them- for instance one time the voice tape broke or anyhow got fouled and it wouldn’t stop baaing- they’d recognize it as a mechanical breakdown.” He added, “The repair outfit’s truck is of course marked ‘animal hospital something.’ And the driver dresses like a vet, completely in white.” (Dick 12).

While this passage is incredibly early on in the book, and thus before a lot of the groudwork of suspicion is really solified in the novel, I found it incredible provocative and pertinent to the discussion of doubt and suspicion. It believe it inspires a lot of questions, particularly concerning the situation we are to encounter in the rest of the novel. Rick communicates, “then everyone in the building knows.” This raises the idea that one is always under suspicion of their neighbors- that it is important to conceal certain things from those around you, because their judgment has a direct effect. “Mechanical” being italicized further offers that it is judged differently than that of some other malfunction- in this context, biologically. Similarly, Rick establishes that the mechanics themeselves are disguised when they come to fix an animal, further suggesting this importance of concealment.

I think this passage establishes several important … that allow the reader to become situated in this world and understand the environment under which these characters operate. First, that there are many things hidden between those that you know best. The very suggestion that things should be hidden offers that shame inspires action among the population, and that there is more truth residing behind what you see. The very fact that Rick’s sheep is so life-like, and that the mechanic comes dressed as a vet, reveals the depth to which one must now question what they encounter. I simiarly find it intersting that Dick has now opened up a conversation concerning the relationship between what is living and what is mechanical. Throughout the introductory chapters, it is established that biology is favored over a mechanical existence- but what movtivates this, and what problems now arise? What can we know about what we see if what we see conceals a hidden truth?

Philip Dick : 2 Agencies, 1 Confused “Android”?

His cephalic pattern taken, he found himself being led off to an equally familiar room; reflexively he began assembling his valuables for transfer. It makes no sense, he said to himself.  Who are these people? If this place has always existed, why didn’t we know about it? And why don’t they know about us? Two parallel police agencies, he said to himself; ours and this one. but never coming in contact–as far as I know–until now. Hard to believe, he thought, that this wouldn’t have happened long ago. If this is a police apparatus here; if it’s what it asserts itself to be (Dick 113)

As Rick Deckard has the inner workings of his head examined, he loses control of his surroundings and is led into the Mission Street Hall of Justice.  The narrator dives into Deckard’s thoughts through free, indirect discourse and calls to mind how nothing and no one makes sense about where he is, who he is with, and why he is just finding out about another police apparatus. Oddly enough, the room he enters is “equally familiar,” but all of its contents are foreign. He mentions how the “new” agency may not have even know about him and the other police agency, but questions even more so if he has been the only one left in the dark. He finds himself groping for questions he cannot know the answers to, which leaves the reader even more estranged to the expository setting. Also, the narrative estrangement is exciting because we can pinpoint how easily a character can snap and lose control of their reality and wonder what will happen next. The passage seems conspiratorial, but also has a near comedic sense of how limited Deckard’s worldview has been if a whole other police agency exists and he is just finding out. He finishes the passage with the conditional statement, “if it’s what it asserts itself to be” to remind one of Deckard’s deceptive and suspicious interpretation of an organization seemingly popping out of nowhere. Moreover, we are not sure if Deckard is just representing the narrative mind of a possible android with a false memory as Officer Crams jokingly says earlier.

What can we depend on!?

“There are no owls, he started to say. Or so we’ve been told. Sidney’s, he thought; they list it in their catalogue as extinct: the tiny, precise type, the E, again and again throughout the catalogue. As the girl walked ahead of him he checked to see, and he was right. Sidney’s never makes a mistake, he said to himself. We know that, too. What else can we depend on?” (41).

This moment in the text emphasizes the suspicious effect of the discourse in the way that the reader is exposed to this new world after W.W.T. through two internally focalized characters (Rick and John), and neither is completely aware of exactly how their world functions around them: they are only knowledgable of their own lives. With the introduction of Rachel, Rick’s own perception of the world is thrown off balance, and the reader cannot help but follow along with the way that he is required to assimilate anomalous information. In this way, the truth is exposed only through the characters experiences with incongruences to what they’ve established as reality; but this cycle continues until the point where we really don’t know what is real or what is not. “What else can we depend on?” — Well I really just don’t know Mr. Dick.

Hint of Doubt

“In addition, no one today remembered why the war had come about or who, if anyone, had won” (Dick 15).

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick immerses the reader into a typical day in Rick Deckard’s life from the beginning of the story which may distract the reader from subtle hints of doubt. One such hint is evident in the above passage in which Rick mentions WWT. To begin with “In addition” suggests that this may be an afterthought of Rick’s which in turn can become an afterthought for the reader that can easily be forgotten. This creates a sense that this “addition” may not be that important which allows the sentence to creep in one’s mind and become just a subtle hint of doubt. Then, the narrator inserts his own thought with “if anyone” which casts the doubt that can be easily overlooked. The passage suggests that everyone, except the narrator, has accepted the fact that there was a war and that there is no need to know anything further.