Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

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Phil Resch Character Analysis

A police officer at the police station where Garland and Officer Crams work, Phil Resch is one of the most confusing characters in the novel—it’s impossible to be sure whether he’s an android or a human being (and this is, of course, Dick’s point). Phil shows signs of being an android—he’s cold, emotionless, and seems to kill without any compunction at all. And yet Phil is also a human being, at least according to the results of Rick Deckard’s Voigt-Kampff test. As Rick understands it, Phil is a very cruel, unfeeling kind of human being: he relishes the chance to shoot Garland and later, Luba Luft. In all, Phil’s character reminds us of the ambiguity of identity in do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?—when people like Phil behave like robots, it’s not so easy to tell the difference between a robot and a person.

Phil Resch Quotes in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

The Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? quotes below are all either spoken by Phil Resch or refer to Phil Resch . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Humanity, Androids, and Empathy Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Ballantine Books edition of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? published in 1996.
Chapter 11 Quotes

Garland said, "That damn fool Resch."
"He actually doesn't know?"
"He doesn't know; he doesn't suspect; he doesn't have the slightest idea. Otherwise he couldn't live out a life as a bounty hunter, a human occupation — hardly an android occupation." Garland gestured toward Rick's briefcase. "Those other carbons, the other suspects you're supposed to test and retire. I know them all." He paused, then said, "We all came here together on the same ship from Mars. Not Resch; he stayed behind another week, receiving the synthetic memory system." He was silent, then.
Or rather it was silent.

Related Characters: Rick Deckard (speaker), Garland (speaker), Phil Resch
Page Number: 122
Explanation and Analysis:

In this disorienting passage, Rick has been arrested by a group of supposed police officers and taken to a police station Rick has never seen before. In custody, Rick meets two officers, Garland and Resch. While Resch is out of the room, Garland reveals that they're both androids--but only he (Garland) knows this. As far as Resch is concerned, everyone in the station is a human being.

Coming on the heels of Rick's realization that he might be an android himself, Garland's revelation is especially surprising. There's no outward difference between Resch and Garland, and yet Resch is convinced that he's a human being, while Garland is sure that he's a robot. Dick implies a question--if an android acts like a human being and believes itself to be a human being, is it a human being? Dick strongly suggests that the answer should be yes--as even after Rick discovers that Garland is an android, he can't help but think of Garland as a "he," though he quickly corrects himself ("It was silent). This connects again to the shifting definitions of humanity within the novel, and how far empathy extends--whether it's enough to bridge the blurry divide between human and android.

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Preoccupied, Phil Resch drove by reflex; his progressively more gloomy train of thought continued to dominate his attention. "Listen, Deckard," he said suddenly. "After we retire Luba Luft — I want you to — " His voice, husky and tormented,broke off. "You know. Give me the Boneli test or that empathy scale you have. To see about me."
"We can worry about that later," Rick said evasively. "You don't want me to take it, do you?" Phil Resch glanced at him with acute comprehension. "I guess you know what the results will be; Garland must have told you something. Facts which I don't know."

Related Characters: Rick Deckard (speaker), Phil Resch (speaker), Garland
Related Symbols: The Voigt-Kampff Test
Page Number: 128
Explanation and Analysis:

Resch and Rick have escaped from the police station where Rick was being held captive. Resch claims to be a human being, despite the fact that Rick has been informed that Resch is really an android. As Resch drives Rick away from the station, he asks Rick to test his humanity later on. Resch shows every sign of believing himself to be a human being and yet suspecting that he's really an android--he can tell from Rick's face that Rick knows the truth (although it turns out that he's wrong).

Throughout the chapter, Dick challenges our understanding of whether or not Resch (and, for that matter, Rick!) is an android. Dick illustrates the futility of any formal "definition" of humanity--there simply isn't a reliable test, let alone a reliable authority figure--that can weigh in on who is and isn't human. Resch is an interesting figure, because he is ultimately found to be technically human, but also a sadistic person without empathy or compassion--so what, then, is the definition of humanity?

Chapter 12 Quotes

"I see a pattern. The way you killed Garland and then the way you killed Luba. You don't kill the way I do; you don't try to — Hell," he said, "I know what it is. You like to kill. All you need is a pretext. If you had a pretext you'd kill me. That's why you picked up on the possibility of Garland being an android; it made him available for being killed.”

Related Characters: Rick Deckard (speaker), Phil Resch , Garland
Page Number: 137
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Rick--now teamed up with Resch--has just witnessed Resch killing Luba Luft, one of the robots on Rick's "kill list." Rick believes that he's determined that Resch is a human being, at least in the narrow, clinical sense of the term "human" covered by the results of a Voigt-Kampff test. And yet in spite of the fact that he's "passed" the test, Resch shows every operative sign of being an android: his behavior around others is unfeeling and even psychopathic, to the point where he feels no guilt or anxiety when firing a gun at Luba Luft.

To the extent that Resch does feel emotion, he paints a frightening picture of human nature. Resch derives genuine pleasure from killing Luft. Thus far, Dick has suggested that the difference between a robot and a human is emotion. But here, the emotion that defines humanity isn't empathy (as Rick believes) but cruelty. If humans are defined by their ability to enjoy hurting others, then maybe it's better to be an unfeeling robot.

"If it's love toward a woman or an android imitation, it's sex. Wake up and face yourself, Deckard. You wanted to go to bed with a female type of android — nothing more, nothing less. I felt that way, on one occasion. When I had just started bounty hunting. Don't let it get you down; you'll heal. What's happened is that you've got your order reversed. Don't kill her—or be present when she's killed — and then feel physically attracted. Do it the other way."

Related Characters: Phil Resch (speaker), Rick Deckard , Miss Luba Luft
Page Number: 143
Explanation and Analysis:

After Resch kills an android named Luba Luft, he discusses Luft with the horrified Rick. Resch points out that Rick feels guilty about ending Luft's "life," but only because Rick was attracted to Luft. Resch gives Rick instructions on how to avoid the sense of guilt Rick is currently feeling: get the "physical attraction" out of his system and then kill, not the other way around.

Notice that Resch has no objection to feeling physically attracted to a robot--another reminder of the gray area that separates humans from androids. Furthermore, the fact that Resch has no qualms about ending Luft's life, in spite of the fact that he's been shown to be confused about the differences between a human and a robot, suggests that his cruelty to robots extends to people as well. Whether or not he's passed the Voigt-Kampff, Resch is still clearly a cruel, non-empathetic person.

Chapter 17 Quotes

Putting his laser tube away Rick said, "I can't do what Phil Resch said." He snapped the motor back on, and a moment later they had taken off again.
"If you're ever going to do it," Rachael said, "do it now. Don't make me wait."

"I'm not going to kill you." He steered the car in the direction of downtown San Francisco once again. "Your car's at the St. Francis, isn't it? I'll let you off there and you can head for Seattle." That ended what he had to say; he drove in silence.
"Thanks for not killing me," Rachael said presently.
"Hell, as you said you've only got two years of life left, anyhow. And I've got fifty. I'll live twenty-five times as long as you."

Related Characters: Rick Deckard (speaker), Rachael Rosen (speaker), Phil Resch
Page Number: 201
Explanation and Analysis:

Rachael, an android, has just slept with Rick. Rachael then reveals that she chose to have sex with Rick in the hopes that Rick would become incapable of retiring any more androids--that the memory of his sexual experience would fill him with remorse every time he pointed a gun at another android.

Rick is furious with Rachael for conning him, but he's also too emotionally attached to her to retire her (hence Rachael's ironic statement, "Thanks for not killing me"). Angry but no longer capable of hurting an android, Rick lashes out at Rachael by bragging about his longer lifespan--Rachael, he reminds her, has less than 2 years to live.

The passage sums up the relationship between robots and humans--a relationship that illustrates the so-called "narcissism of petty differences." At the end of the day, there's no real difference between androids and humans: they're equally miserable, equally alienated, and equally frustrated with their mortality. But instead of recognizing their common nature, humans have chosen to wage war against androids as a way of distracting themselves from their own weaknesses ("I'll live 25 times as long as you"). In short, humans distance themselves from androids in an attempt to glorify their own human nature.

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Phil Resch Character Timeline in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

The timeline below shows where the character Phil Resch appears in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 10
Humanity, Androids, and Empathy Theme Icon
Perception, Reality, and Power Theme Icon
...Rick is taken to speak with an officer named Garland, and another officer named Phil Resch. Resch, another bounty hunter, has been called in to verify that Rick is who he... (full context)
Humanity, Androids, and Empathy Theme Icon
Perception, Reality, and Power Theme Icon
Commodification and Consumerism Theme Icon
...the Voigt-Kampff test, and that Rick has probably been killing innocent human beings, not androids. Resch suggests to Garland that Rick demonstrate the Voigt-Kampff test on Resch himself. (full context)
Chapter 11
Humanity, Androids, and Empathy Theme Icon
Perception, Reality, and Power Theme Icon
Memory Theme Icon
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... (full context)
Humanity, Androids, and Empathy Theme Icon
Perception, Reality, and Power Theme Icon
Memory Theme Icon
Commodification and Consumerism Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Humanity, Androids, and Empathy Theme Icon
Perception, Reality, and Power Theme Icon
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Resch returns, carrying his own human-android testing equipment. Resch and Rick sit down. As Rick sits,... (full context)
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Memory Theme Icon
Resch tells Rick that in order to sneak out of the building, he’ll need to handcuff... (full context)
Chapter 12
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Perception, Reality, and Power Theme Icon
Memory Theme Icon
Rick and Resch have arrived at the opera house. They learn that Miss Luft has left the building... (full context)
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Commodification and Consumerism Theme Icon
As Rick and Resch walk Luft out of the museum, Luft asks Rick to buy her a postcard of... (full context)
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Perception, Reality, and Power Theme Icon
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Rick and Resch march Luft to an elevator, and when the doors close, Resch shoots her in the... (full context)
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The elevator doors open, and Rick tells Resch to stay with Luft’s body—Rick will call the police. Resch accuses Rick of hating him.... (full context)
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After Rick calls the authorities, Resch and Rick climb into the hovercar. Inside the car, Rick takes out some of the... (full context)
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The novel cuts ahead to just after Rick has finished the test. Resch is relieved by what he’s found out, and asks Rick for his gun back. Rick... (full context)
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Rick tells Resch that he wants Resch to administer the Voigt-Kampff test on him. Rick points the machines... (full context)
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Resch tells Rick that on Mars and other off-world colonies, there are android mistresses, designed to... (full context)
Chapter 15
Humanity, Androids, and Empathy Theme Icon
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Animals and the Environment Theme Icon
Commodification and Consumerism Theme Icon
...realizes what Iran gets out of Mercerism. He tells Iran that his meeting with Phil Resch, a sadistic bounty hunter, has made him realize a few things—most importantly, that he (Rick)... (full context)
Chapter 17
Humanity, Androids, and Empathy Theme Icon
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...this at least eight times already). One the men she had sex with was Phil Resch—the only bounty hunter who continued to kill androids after making love to her. Rick is... (full context)