Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Chapter 9 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Rick arrives at an old opera house, in which he can hear Mozart’s The Magic Flute. He remembers that Mozart died of kidney failure shortly after writing his opera. Rick enters the main room of the opera house and notices Luba Luft, the next android on his list, impersonating Pamina, one of the characters in the opera.
It’s no coincidence that Rick is thinking about Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute, in which a group of characters try to distinguish between fantasy and reality, often with little success. Rick also meditates on the fragility of human life here—he seems a little too introspective to be successful as a cold-blooded killer.
Themes
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After the opera finishes, Rick goes to Miss Luft’s dressing room. There, he tells Miss Luft that he’d like to give her a test of empathy. She asks him if he thinks she’s an android, and she insists that she’s not. Rick explains that androids don’t care about other androids, and Miss Luft explains that this would make Rick an android: he callously hunts down and kills them, after all. She challenges him to take his own empathy test.
Miss Luft is the first character to challenge Rick’s ideas of human nature. She asks him a natural question, one that Rick seemingly hasn’t thought of yet: what if you were an android? The irony, which we’ve already noticed, is that in tracking down androids (i.e., beings without empathy of any kind), Rick himself is becoming a cold, nihilistic being—something inhuman.
Themes
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Rick proceeds with the Voigt-Kampff test, and Miss Luft reluctantly listens to his questions. She goes off on long tangents about her memories of childhood—tangents that have little, if anything, to do with Rick’s questions. She criticizes Rick for asking too many questions about sex. She threatens to kill him if he reaches for his pistol. Rick is confused—he wonders why Luft is being so calm, when she knows that Rick is a bounty hunter. Then he realizes that Luft believes that she’s human—she thinks she has nothing to fear.
This is a crucial section, because it further complicates the philosophical problem that Dick presented us with earlier. The question is no longer, “Is a robot human if it looks and acts human?”—the question is now, “Is a robot human if it looks and acts human, and if it thinks it’s human?” The concept of memory as an aspect of humanity is once again introduced here, connected to what is “real” and what is “fake”—are Luft’s memories “fake” to her just because they were placed there by a corporation?
Themes
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Suddenly, Miss Luft points a laser gun at Rick and calls the police. A few moments later, a police officer (a “harness bull”) enters the room and reaches for Rick’s identification. Rick explains that he works under Harry Bryant, but the officer, Officer Crams, claims that he’s never heard of this person. Rick realizes that the officer is an android, too.
As the novel goes on, it becomes clear that many of the androids in the book have no idea of their own nature: they have human bodies, and even human memories (as Eldon Rosen explained earlier). This lends a new urgency to Dick’s philosophical questions about androids and humanity.
Themes
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Get the entire Androids Dream LitChart as a printable PDF.
Do androids dream of electric sheep.pdf.medium
Officer Crams and Miss Luft march Rick to his hovercar, where they find the body of Polokov. While Luft hangs back, Crams orders Rick into his car. Crams drives the car toward the Hall of Justice, claiming that he’s driving to the new Hall of Justice, in the neighborhood of the Mission. Rick realizes that Crams is driving Rick to his death. Rick asks Crams to admit that he’s an android, and Crams denies anything of the kind. Rick, still sure he’s going to die, waits for Crams to shoot him.
The chapter ends with a cliff-hanger—it looks like Rick is going to die, murdered by an android who thinks he’s a human being, and might even think that Rick is an android. This shows the relativism of the police officers’ definition of human nature: under identical circumstances, an android and a human could both consider each other androids, and kill each other for this reason.
Themes
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Perception, Reality, and Power Theme Icon
Memory Theme Icon