In 2007, the journalist Adam Gopnik wrote a long essay on Philip K. Dick in which he proposed that all of Dick’s novels are structured around the same question: “What is human?” Sure enough, this question hangs over every chapter of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? In a way, the other four themes of the novel represent four different ways of answering this question (for example, humans are human because they’re capable of making…(read full theme analysis)
According to Gopnik, the other overarching question of Philip K. Dick’s fiction is, “What is real?” In the futuristic version of the U.S. in which Do Androids Dream is set, that question is almost impossible to answer. Powerful corporations manufacture electric animals and people who seem to be “alive,” but aren’t. To make matters worse, nearly everyone in the future uses drugs that blur the line between reality and hallucination—even Rick Deckard, a police…(read full theme analysis)
In Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, humans have an uneasy relationship with the natural world. After decades of nuclear war, the natural world is in ruins: lush forests have become inhabitable deserts. Because the state of nature is so dire, pets are extremely valuable, and it’s a mark of social status to own a sheep, a goat, or a horse. The relationship between humans, animals, and the environment is even revealed as an…(read full theme analysis)
Although Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is a work of science fiction, it can also be interpreted as a satire of contemporary American society—a society where everything is for sale and where the mass media ensure that everybody craves the same things.
In his novel, Dick depicts a futuristic society in which the art of “keeping up with the Joneses” has gone out of control. In the future, we learn, families still compete with…(read full theme analysis)