Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

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Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Chapter 11 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Rick proceeds with his Voigt-Kampff test, applying it to Phil Resch, another bounty-hunter. Resch nods and goes to get his “Boneli gear”—the equipment he needs to run his own android-human test. While Resch is out of the room, Garland turns to Rick and says, “That damn fool Resch.” Rick realizes that Resch himself is an android—an android who thinks he’s a human bounty hunter, paid to retire other androids. Garland adds that he, Garland, is also an android, one of the Nexus-Sixes who came from Mars. The reason that Resch thinks he’s human while Garland knows he’s an android is that Resch, another Nexus-Six, stayed behind for another week and received a full artificial memory system on Mars. Rick, shocked, asks Garland what will happen when Resch finds out the truth about himself. Garland casually says that Resch might kill himself—Garland has no way of knowing.
There’s a sudden plot twist in this chapter: Resch, a character that we’d assumed was human, turns out to be an android after all. Or is he? Our only source for this information is Garland, who seems to be an android, too. Synthetic memories have become so convincing that it’s impossible to distinguish between one’s genuine memories of the past and the simulation of a memory of the past. What’s more important to understand is that Dick is offering up a second definition of human nature, independent of any test: being human is about being sympathetic and genuinely empathetic. In this sense Garland, whether he is or isn’t an android, is still somehow inhuman.
Themes
Humanity, Androids, and Empathy Theme Icon
Perception, Reality, and Power Theme Icon
Memory Theme Icon
Rick begins to fill in the other details of his day so far. The reason another woman answered when he called Iran, Garland tells him, is that the entire building is wired with fake phones, designed to preserve the illusion that this is an ordinary police station. The purpose of this police station is to allow androids to track down bounty hunters who are trying to retire other androids. Rick is surprised that Garland can speak so frankly about Resch’s hypothetical suicide, and accuses Garland of being cold and unfeeling. Garland admits that Rick is right—androids have no empathy.
One reason this chapter is so confusing is that we’ve underestimated the scope of the simulation. Not only can a corporation invent a fake memory, it can build an entire building designed to simulate reality for a handful of characters—it’s like The Truman Show. For the time being, Garland doesn’t challenge Rick’s understand of what it means to be an android—i.e., Garland is cold and unfeeling, just like an android is supposed to be.
Themes
Humanity, Androids, and Empathy Theme Icon
Perception, Reality, and Power Theme Icon
Memory Theme Icon
Commodification and Consumerism Theme Icon
Resch returns, carrying his own human-android testing equipment. Resch and Rick sit down. As Rick sits, Garland points a laser gun at Rick. Resch is too fast for him, however—he draws his own laser gun and shoots Garland in the head, killing him instantly. Resch mutters that he had always suspected Garland of being an android. To preserve the illusion, Rick lies and tells Resch that while Resch was away, Garland told him that he (Garland) was an android, intent on killing Resch. Resch tells Rick that they—probably the only two humans in the building—are going to sneak out. He also tells Rick that Rick will need to find Luba Luft again and retire her before the androids at the law enforcement office warn her.
Resch saves Rick’s life, complicating Rick’s mission still further. Although Resch isn’t one of Rick’s intended victims, we can imagine that Resch’s action will make Rick question the morality of killing androids—if androids can save other people’s lives, then this could be said to make androids human. Notably, Rick doesn’t tell Resch what Garland just told him—he doesn’t tell Resch that Resch might be an android. Even more importantly, Rick doesn’t seem to be thinking about whether or not he is an android.
Themes
Humanity, Androids, and Empathy Theme Icon
Perception, Reality, and Power Theme Icon
Memory Theme Icon
Commodification and Consumerism Theme Icon
Resch tells Rick that in order to sneak out of the building, he’ll need to handcuff Rick. Resch does so, and Rick tells him about the androids that have come to Earth from Mars. Resch nods and tells Rick that there used to be a human named Garland—but at some point, he was replaced with an android. Androids, Resch has heard, can be implanted with false memories that make them believe that they’re human. As Resch says this, his face begins to convulse. He makes Rick promise to give him a human-android test when they finish retiring Luba Luft. Rick replies, “We can worry about that later.” Together, Rick and Resch walk out of the building and drive away in Resch’s hovercar.
It’s strangely poignant to see Resch talking about false memories, unaware that he might be talking about himself. And yet Resch shows some signs of suspecting that he might be an android, as he asks Rick to run a test on him later on. Ironically, Resch’s suspicion that he might not be fully human might be the most identifiably human thing about him—surely it’s a part of human nature to question one’s own nature and try to come to terms with it.
Themes
Humanity, Androids, and Empathy Theme Icon
Perception, Reality, and Power Theme Icon
Memory Theme Icon
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