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.

Pris Stratton’s Identity

“I’m Rachael Rosen.”
“Of the Rosen Association?” [John] asked.
…”No…I never heard of them; I don’t know anything about it…My name…is Pris Stratton. That’s my married name; I always use it. I never use any other name but Pris.”

(Dick, 67-8).

Suspicion and doubt is immediately cast onto this scene as we are given little indication of what the truth is regarding Pris’ real identity. There are a few factors at play here regarding the doubt. The more obvious factor is her swift disregard that she had ever used the name Rachael Rosen before, or even knew the implications of using that name. This can only lead us to speculate that she’s hiding something regarding the Rosen Association (particularly as she says, “I don’t know anything about it. More of your chickenhead imagination, I suppose” [68]–using John’s “special” status as a way to divert the conversation away from her) and her association with it. Is she really Rachael Rosen, on the run now that she knows she’s an android? Or is this a different person (android?), and what is she hiding from?

The other factor at play here is John himself, as he takes on the role as narrator in this chapter. While he is perceptive to Pris’ strange nature (not knowing about Buster Friendly, being nonchalant about the empathy box, etc.), he doesn’t immediately question these qualities. He does say that she’s “out of touch” (69) and “may need help” (70), but he otherwise seems unbothered by her strangeness, even offering to teach her how to cook. This can be in part due to his “special” designation, which in turn leaves him to be much by his lonesome and without the example of other human beings to compare Pris to. It seems to be a matter of how much we can trust his perception and insight, as well as what we can gain from his observations in order to come to our own conclusions.