The Plot (Magill's Guide to Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature)
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? recounts a day in the life of bounty hunter Rick Deckard. The action begins on the morning of January 3, 1992, as Deckard and his wife, Iran, wake up in their apartment; it concludes the following morning, as an exhausted Deckard returns to bed. In that twenty-four-hour period, Deckard faces the greatest challenge he has ever encountered: He must “retire” a rogue band of “organic androids” (or “andys,” as they are called) of a design so advanced that they are almost indistinguishable from human beings. His task is complicated by his attraction for another android, Rachael Rosen, who tries to prevent him from carrying out his mission.
The story is set in a gray world devastated by “World War Terminus” and the resulting radioactive fallout, which is slowly depopulating the planet. Many people have left to settle in a colony on Mars, where androids are employed for hard labor, domestic service, and other purposes. In making their escape from Mars and servitude, the rogue andys that Deckard is to retire killed a number of humans. The people who remain on Earth have witnessed the extinction of many animal species. Possession of an animal—a horse, a sheep, or even a cat—confers status; for those who cannot afford the real thing, artificial animals are available. Deckard himself has an electric sheep but greatly desires to own a living creature. That is the primary motivation in his quest: The...
(The entire section is 453 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!
Questions and Answers: Chapter 1
1. In what ways does Iran’s use of the mood organ differ from Deckard’s?
2. Why does Deckard keep the falsity of his animal from his neighbors?
3. Why do some people own mechanized animals instead of animals that are real?
4. Why does Deckard wear a lead codpiece?
5. What is Barbour’s reaction to Deckard’s confession that his sheep is not real?
1. Iran uses thee mood organ to experiment with different moods in an attempt to simulate authentic emotional responses, while Deckard uses his mood organ to dictate the mood in which he’ll approach his workday.
2. Owning a false animal is less...
(The entire section is 219 words.)
Questions and Answers: Chapter 2
1. What is a “special”?
2. Why does Isidore use his empathy box?
3. Who is Wilbur Mercer?
4. What does the empathy box depict?
5. How does the story involving Mercer affect users of the empathy box?
1. A “special” is a human being who has sustained mental damage from the radioactive dust covering Earth.
2. Isidore uses his empathy box for companionship. Isidore lives in isolation and the empathy box makes him feel as though he is not alone.
3. Humans on Earth appeal to Wilbur Mercer, as an iconographic figure, for a sense of companionship and commiseration in their struggle for...
(The entire section is 174 words.)
Questions and Answers: Chapter 3
1. What is the fundamental difference between androids and humans?
2. How do bounty hunters test for this difference?
3. What is special about the Nexus-6 model of android?
4. Why is the real ostrich so expensive?
5. Why doesn’t Deckard offer his real name to the salesperson at the animal shop?
1. Androids are incapable of feeling empathy, an emotion that humans are able to experience with respect towards one another.
2. Bounty hunters use the Voigt-Kampff Test to determine the involuntary physical responses of the test subject. The test involves questions that stimulate emotional responses in...
(The entire section is 161 words.)
Questions and Answers: Chapter 4
1. Why is the current method of testing for androids a concern to police organizations?
2. What does the inability for some humans to pass the Voigt-Kampff Empathy Test imply?
3. Why is Deckard sent to the Rosen association?
4. Why does the Rosen Association care about which test methods the bounty hunters use?
5. Who is Deckard’s first test subject?
1. The current method of testing is a concern for the police because some humans who are schizophrenic have failed the Voigt-Kampff Test and achieved results identical to those of androids.
2. Since some humans also fail the Voight-Kampff Test, there...
(The entire section is 205 words.)
Questions and Answers: Chapter 5
1. What is measured by the Voigt-Kampff Test, and how do the results indicate whether or not the test subject is an android?
2. What are the results of Rachel Rosen's test?
3. Are the results to Rosen's test accurate?
4. Why is Deckard tempted by the bribe put forth by the Rosen’s?
5. Why is Deckard more disturbed by the realization that the owl is fake than by the results of his test session?
1. The Voigt-Kampff Test measures involuntary physical responses to questions. If a test subject responds flatly to a question involving emotionally challenging scenarios, the test subject is concluded to be an android...
(The entire section is 242 words.)
Questions and Answers: Chapter 6
1. What is odd about the new tenant in Isidore’s building?
2. Why does Isidore find it odd that she doesn’t have an empathy box?
3. Why does Isidore warn Pris Stratton about borrowing items from other people’s apartment?
4. What is “kipple”?
5. How does Isidore’s struggle against kipple compare/contrast to Mercer’s struggle against devastation?
1. The woman doesn’t claim to know about Buster Friendly (the most popular television personality on Earth), she has difficulty telling Isidore her name, and she doesn’t have an empathy box. Also, she seems nervous upon meeting Isidore until she learns...
(The entire section is 273 words.)
Questions and Answers: Chapter 7
1. What disturbs Isidore about the cat he has just picked up?
2. Why doesn’t Isidore realize that the animal is real?
3. Why is Isidore’s boss, Mr. Sloat, upset when he realizes the animal is real?
4. What does Isidore think about Buster Friendly and Wilbur Mercer?
5. Why does the prominence of both characters in society seem contradictory to Isidore?
1. Isidore is disturbed by the mechanized animal because it is sick and its responses are identical to those made by a real animal.
2. Although Isidore isn’t able to find the electrical components that exist on an ersatz pet, he still believes...
(The entire section is 203 words.)
Questions and Answers: Chapter 8
1. Why does the W.P.O. want to send one of their own officers to accompany Deckard on his mission?
2. Why does Deckard look for Polokov at the Bay Area Scavenger’s Company?
3. What does Rachel Rosen offer Deckard and why is this strange?
4. What does Deckard find out about the Russian police agent, Kadalyi?
5. What does the interaction between Deckard and Polokov imply about the escaped androids?
1. The W.P.O. is concerned about the accuracy of the test methods involving androids and they want one of their own members to observe a bounty hunter in action.
2. Deckard looks for Polokov at the Bay...
(The entire section is 197 words.)
Questions and Answers: Chapter 9
1. How does Deckard view his role as bounty hunter?
2. How does his role compare to the moral philosophy of Mercerism?
3. Where does Deckard go to find the next android on his list?
4. Is Deckard’s attempt to test Luba Luft successful?
5. Why is Deckard confused by the police officer who arrests him?
1. Deckard sees his role as bounty hunter as an entropic component that facilitates the destruction of what has been created.
2. Deckard has issues with retiring androids because he feels as though he is adding to the same destruction which Mercerism struggles against.
3. Deckard goes to...
(The entire section is 181 words.)
Questions and Answers: Chapter 10
1. What does officer Garland notice about Deckard’s list of androids?
2. What happens when Deckard calls his wife?
3. Where does Phil Resch suggest that some androids may hide?
4. What is similar about the police station on Mission and the police station on Lombard?
5. What type of test does Phil Resch use?
1. Garland realizes that he is included on Deckard’s list of androids.
2. Deckard dials his home number and a woman he has never seen before answers the phone.
3. Resch explains that he has often thought that androids were probably hiding out as humans in significant positions...
(The entire section is 135 words.)
Questions and Answers: Chapter 11
1. Why does Garland pull a laser tube on Deckard?
2. What does Garland claim about Resch?
3. Why must Resch lead Deckard out of the Hall of Justice building in handcuffs?
4. Why is Resch disturbed by Garland’s classification as an android?
5. What does Resch own that implies that he is not an android?
1. Garland pulls a laser tube on Deckard and admits that he is an android and that he intends to kill the bounty hunter. Garland decides not to kill Deckard when he is realizes that Resch will administer the Boneli Reflex-Arc Test even if Deckard is dead.
2. Garland claims that Resch is an android...
(The entire section is 243 words.)
Questions and Answers: Chapter 12
1. What does Deckard do for Luft at the art museum before retiring her?
2. What is it about Resch that causes Deckard to think he is an android?
3. How does a human who feels no empathy towards the retiring of an android effect Deckard's concept of Mercerism and the rules of his tests?
4. Why does Deckard test himself?
5. What theory does Resch provide Deckard based on the results of Deckard’s test?
1. Deckard buys a book of Edvard Munch's paintings for Luba Luft before retiring her.
2. Deckard thinks Resch might be an android because he has no patience for Luba and because he lacks empathy for...
(The entire section is 210 words.)
Questions and Answers: Chapter 13
1. What does Stratton notice about Isidore when he goes to her apartment after getting off from work?
2. How does Stratton react to the food offered by Isidore?
3. According to Stratton, why did a bounty hunter murder her friends?
4. Where did Stratton and her friends live before coming to Earth?
5.Why does Isidore state that he would find “pre-colonial fiction” depressing?
1. Stratton comments that Isidore seems “more grown up” because of his added confidence when he presents her with food.
2. Stratton is initially pleased and excited by the food, but then she becomes saddened and...
(The entire section is 199 words.)
Questions and Answers: Chapter 14
1. Why does Roy Baty encourage Stratton to move in with Isidore?
2. Why does Isidore say that he doesn’t believe in bounty hunters?
3. How does Roy Baty give himself away as an android to Isidore?
4. What is Isidore’s reaction to the news that Stratton and Irmgard and Roy Baty are all androids?
5. Why does Irmgard Baty think Isidore will not pose a threat to their safety?
1. Roy Baty encourages Stratton to move in with Isidore because he thinks that Isidore will provide some distraction to the bounty hunter when he shows up to retire the androids.
2. Isidore knows that murder is illegal and...
(The entire section is 209 words.)
Questions and Answers: Chapter 15
1. What is “animal row”?
2. What is Deckard’s reaction to buying a goat?
3. What is Iran’s reaction to the goat?
4. Why does Iran want to use the empathy box?
5. Why does Deckard use the empathy box?
1. Animal Row is the area of town that has many different animal shops displaying their selections of real animals.
2. Deckard’s morale is lifted when he buys a goat. Owning a real animal helps Deckard to forget about the contradiction inherent to his job as a bounty hunter.
3. Iran is excited about Deckard's goat, and then decides that they need to share their excitement with...
(The entire section is 167 words.)
Questions and Answers: Chapter 16
1. Why does Deckard think androids escape to Earth?
2. Why is Rachel Rosen disturbed by the description of one of the androids on Deckard’s list?
3. How does Rachel Rosen feel about Pris Stratton?
4. What does Rachel Rosen claim is the reason for visiting Deckard?
5. Why can’t Deckard marry Rachel Rosen?
1. Deckard believes that androids escape to Earth in an attempt to break free of servitude to humans on Mars.
2. The description of Pris Stratton is identical to Rachel Rosen, indicating that they are the same exact model of android.
3. Rachel Rosen describes a feeling of losing her...
(The entire section is 160 words.)
Questions and Answers: Chapter 17
1. What does Rachel Rosen say to Deckard about his ability to retire androids after their shared experience?
2. What becomes evident to Deckard about Rachel Rosen’s visit?
3. What does Deckard attempt to do to Rachel Rosen in response to her announcement that he has been set-up?
4. How does Rachel Rosen react to Deckard’s attempt to retire her?
5. How does Deckard’s experience compare to Resch’s earlier suggestion about dealing with his feelings about retiring androids?
1. Rachel Rosen tells Deckard that she doesn’t think he will be able to retire androids after sleeping with her because of the...
(The entire section is 227 words.)
Questions and Answers: Chapter 18
1. How does Isidore respond to his role as servant to the androids?
2. What does Isidore find outside of the apartment?
3. How do the androids react to Isidore’s finding?
4. What is Buster Friendly’s big announcement?
5. What is Isidore’s response to Friendly’s announcement?
1. Isidore has a feeling of usefulness with the androids that he is incapable of receiving from humans due to his classification as a special.
2. Isidore finds a spider crawling around the staircase outside of his apartment.
3. Roy Baty is disinterested in the spider because of the announcement Friendly is...
(The entire section is 204 words.)
Questions and Answers: Chapter 19
1. What does Isidore do to the spider he finds in his hands?
2. What does Isidore find in the garden?
3. How does Deckard locate Pris Stratton?
4. What attempt does Pris Stratton make to avoid retirement?
5. How does Roy Baty respond to the retirement of Irmgard Baty?
1. Isidore releases the spider into a garden outside of the apartment building.
2. Isidore is approached by Deckard, who appeals to Isidore for help in locating the androids.
3. Deckard has a vision of Mercer telling him that the most difficult of the three remaining androids is hiding in the dark hallway. This vision...
(The entire section is 142 words.)
Questions and Answers: Chapter 20
1. What is Isidore’s response to Deckard's retirement of the androids?
2. What does Iran tell Deckard when he returns home?
3. Who killed Deckard’s goat?
4. What was odd about Rachel Rosen’s behavior when she came to Deckard’s building?
5. What is Deckard’s response to the news about his goat?
1. After Deckard retires the androids, Isidore explains that he will move to a more populated area of the city.
2. When Deckard returns home, Iran explains that a woman came to the rooftop and pushed their goat over the edge.
3. Based on Iran’s description, Deckard believes that Rachel...
(The entire section is 167 words.)
Questions and Answers: Chapter 21
1. Where does Deckard find himself when he lands his hovercar?
2. What does Deckard realize about his surroundings?
3. Why does Deckard attempt to contact Dave Holden?
4. What happens to Deckard while he is alone?
5. What is different about Deckard’s experience with Mercer?
1. When Deckard stops his hovercar he is in a barren landscape that is completely devoid of life.
2. Deckard realizes that he is in the barren landscape experienced by users of the empathy box when they fuse with Mercer.
3. Deckard attempts to contact Holden in order to speak with the only other person that Deckard...
(The entire section is 186 words.)
Questions and Answers: Chapter 22
1. What does Deckard find?
2. What is Iran doing just before Deckard reaches home?
3. What is Iran’s reaction to Deckard when he returns home?
4. What does Iran discover about Deckard’s finding?
5. How does Deckard respond to her discovery?
1. Deckard discovers a frog in the dust and captures it to take home.
2. Just before reaching home, Iran attempts to use the mood organ but finds that she is incapable of using it because of her sincere concern for Deckard.
3. Once Deckard returns home, Iran expresses her sincere relief for his safety.
4. Iran realizes that the toad...
(The entire section is 125 words.)
Compare and Contrast
Topics for Discussion
Ideas for Reports and Papers
Topics for Further Study
What Do I Read Next?
For Further Reference
Bibliography and Further Reading
Bibliography (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
Apel, D. Scott, ed. Philip K. Dick: The Dream Connection. San Diego: Permanent Press, 1987.
Carrere, Emmanuel. I Am Alive and You Are Dead: The Strange Life and Times of Philip K. Dick. Translated by Timothy Bent. New York: Metropolitan Books, 2003.
Lem, Stanislaw. Microworlds: Writings on Science Fiction and Fantasy. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1984.
Mackey, Douglas A. Philip K. Dick. Boston: Twayne, 1988.
Mason, Daryl. The Biography of Philip K. Dick. London: Gollancz, 2006.
Olander, Joseph, and...
(The entire section is 167 words.)