Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Pdf fan dd71f526917d6085d66d045bd94fb5b55d02a108dd45d836cbdd4abe2d4c043d Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)

The Mood Organ Symbol Analysis

The Mood Organ Symbol Icon

In Dick’s vision of the future, people rely on a “mood organ” to feel emotions of any kind. The mood organ can be placed on various “settings,” each one of which corresponds to a different, very specific emotion, such as “eager to watch TV,” “slightly optimistic,” “weary,” etc. It’s bizarre to imagine a world in which people depend on machines to feel—in this sense, the mood organ is a disturbing symbol of humans’ growing reliance on machines, even as they simultaneously become more like machines (unable to feel emotion without using another machine). More to the point, however, the organ symbolizes the growing conformity of modern society, in which the mass media ensure that everyone is thinking and feeling the same things.

The Mood Organ Quotes in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

The Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Mood Organ. 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 1 Quotes

Examining the schedule for January 3, 1992, he saw that a businesslike professional attitude was called for. "If I dial by schedule," he said warily, "will you agree to also?" He waited, canny enough not to commit himself until his wife had agreed to follow suit.
"My schedule for today lists a six-hour self-accusatory depression," Iran said.
"What? Why did you schedule that?" It defeated the whole purpose of the mood organ. "I didn't even know you could set it for that," he said gloomily.

Related Characters: Rick Deckard (speaker), Iran Deckard (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Mood Organ
Page Number: 4-5
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, we're introduced to the mood organ, a futuristic device that implants a strong emotion in its user: depression, alertness, etc. The people who use the mood organ can even schedule precise emotions throughout the day, so that they can be guaranteed a strong feeling of alertness at 11 am, or a light melancholy at 10 pm.  (Notice also that the only "real" emotion in the passage is gloom, suggesting that perhaps the emotions generated by the machine are actually more desirable and even more real than ordinary human emotions.)

The disturbing thing about a mood organ is that it renders all humans' emotions the same--if two unlike people both use the mood organ to feel melancholy, then their senses of melancholy will be identical in every way. In general, then, the mood organ is representative of a futuristic society in which the consumption of machines and other commodities has created a bland, homogeneous population.

A+

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!
Chapter 15 Quotes

Rick said, "I took a test, one question, and verified it; I've begun to empathize with androids, and look what that means. You said it this morning yourself. 'Those poor andys.' So you know what I'm talking about. That's why I bought the goat. I never felt like that before. Maybe it could be a depression, like you get. I can understand now how you suffer when you're depressed; I always thought you liked it and I thought you could have snapped yourself out any time, if not alone then by means of the mood organ. But when you get that depressed you don't care. Apathy, because you've lost a sense of worth. It doesn't matter whether you feel better because if you have no worth — "
"What about your job?" Her tone jabbed at him; he blinked. "Your job," Iran repeated. "What are the monthly payments on the goat?" She held out her hand; reflexively he got out the contract which he had signed, passed it to her.

Related Characters: Rick Deckard (speaker), Iran Deckard (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Mood Organ
Page Number: 174-175
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Rick Deckard admits to his wife, Iran, that he's begun to empathize with the androids whom he's been tasked with hunting down and "retiring." Up to this point in the novel, Rick has defined empathy as the ability to feel a bond with other human beings--here, though, he expands his definition of empathy to encompass a bond with androids and animals. As a way of staving off his guilt and anxiety (and showing off his new bounty hunting rewards), Rick has purchased an expensive pet. He continues to play by "society's rules"--when he's sad, he sees no solution other than shopping, just as his friends and neighbors do.

Rick's interaction with Iran in this passage is important because it brings up the idea of apathy in contrast to empathy. While the human characters in the novel define themselves according to their ability to empathize with others, they're more notable for their disillusionment with emotional connection of any kind whatsoever. Rick has previously felt disconnected from his depressed wife, and here, when he reaches out to her and opens up about his feelings, she interrupts him to discuss money. Both characters, struggling to feel an emotional bond with anyone or anything, can only attempt an apathetic, futile solution to their problems--shopping therapy.

Chapter 22 Quotes

"Do you want to use the mood organ? To feel better? You always have gotten a lot out of it, more than I ever have."
"I'll be okay." He shook his head, as if trying to clear it, still bewildered. "The spider Mercer gave the chickenhead, Isidore; it probably was artificial, too. But it doesn't matter. The electric things have their lives, too. Paltry as those lives are."

Related Characters: Rick Deckard (speaker), Iran Deckard (speaker), John Isidore , Al Jarry / Wilbur Mercer
Related Symbols: The Mood Organ, The Toad
Page Number: 241
Explanation and Analysis:

Back in his home, Rick Deckard is disappointed to discover that the "miraculous" toad he found in the middle of the desert is just an electronic toy, and therefore not very valuable at all. Rick is frustrated--he'd thought that his toad would bring him lots of money, and that its discovery was a kind of religious miracle.

Yet in spite of his frustration, Rick still seems to experience an epiphany in this passage. Rick has been trained to believe that things are "real" if and only if they pass a rigorous test: if they can be purchased for a high price in a store; if they pass a Voigt-Kampff test, etc. Here, however, Rick seems to change his mind. Even a fake spider has its own kind of life. Rick characterizes the life of a robotic spider as "paltry"--but of course, the life of a "real" animal (or a real human being!) is just as paltry in the grand scheme of things.

What Rick realizes about animals applies to robots and people, too. Even robots, it's implied, have lives, thoughts, and feelings. Dick subtly implies the shift in Rick's thinking by noting that Rick refuses to use the mood organ. Rick refuses to accept socially-approved definitions of emotion, humanity, or life. Instead, he chooses to feel his own emotions and construct his own definitions of life and human nature.

Get the entire Androids Dream LitChart as a printable PDF.
Do androids dream of electric sheep.pdf.medium

The Mood Organ Symbol Timeline in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Mood Organ appears in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Humanity, Androids, and Empathy Theme Icon
Perception, Reality, and Power Theme Icon
Animals and the Environment Theme Icon
Commodification and Consumerism Theme Icon
...he and Iran own. As he thinks, he fiddles with a small machine, a “ mood organ ,” that can control the chemical balance of his brain. This mood organ could make... (full context)
Humanity, Androids, and Empathy Theme Icon
Commodification and Consumerism Theme Icon
...to dial 888, the setting that makes people want to watch TV. Rick sets his mood organ to “a fresh and creative attitude,” a setting that Rick usually feels anyway. (full context)
Chapter 22
Humanity, Androids, and Empathy Theme Icon
Perception, Reality, and Power Theme Icon
Animals and the Environment Theme Icon
Commodification and Consumerism Theme Icon
Iran sits in the apartment next to the mood organ . There’s a sudden knock—it’s Rick, with his cheek cut and his clothing dusty. He... (full context)
Humanity, Androids, and Empathy Theme Icon
Perception, Reality, and Power Theme Icon
Animals and the Environment Theme Icon
Commodification and Consumerism Theme Icon
...to sleep, since he needs rest. Iran nods and tells him that she’ll set the mood organ to 670, the setting for “long deserved peace.” While Rick sleeps, Iran calls the pet... (full context)