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?