Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Al Jarry / Wilbur Mercer Character Analysis

Wilbur Mercer is a media personality and religious leader who commands millions of followers around the world. His religion, Mercerism, is based around the idea that empathy is mankind’s quintessential quality. For this reason, his followers are supposed to join together, feeling each other’s emotions and experiencing each other’s sensations. Mercer’s religion, as Rick Deckard realizes, is morally bankrupt because it has no true “rules” at all—everything is permissible, because Mercer accepts that it’s impossible to live a moral life anymore. Toward the end of the novel, it’s revealed that Wilbur Mercer isn’t a real person at all. Although he appears before his followers as an old, bearded man in a robe, Mercer is just a character, played by a small-time actor named Al Jarry, pretending to bring dead animals back to life. It’s left up to the characters to decide whether Mercer’s fictitiousness discredits Mercerism altogether—it’s possible to argue, as John Isidore does, that the emotional tone of Mercerism has some “truth” to it, even if Mercer himself is a lie.

Al Jarry / Wilbur Mercer Quotes in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

The Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? quotes below are all either spoken by Al Jarry / Wilbur Mercer or refer to Al Jarry / Wilbur Mercer. 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 2 Quotes

He found himself, instead, as always before, entering into the landscape of drab hill, drab sky. And at the same time he no longer witnessed the climb of the elderly man. His own feet now scraped, sought purchase, among the familiar loose stones; he felt the same old painful, irregular roughness beneath his feet and once again smelled the acrid haze of the sky — not Earth's sky but that of some place alien, distant, and yet, by means of the empathy box, instantly available.

Related Characters: John Isidore, Al Jarry / Wilbur Mercer
Related Symbols: The Empathy Box
Page Number: 22
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Chapter 3 Quotes

Empathy, he once had decided, must be limited to herbivores or anyhow omnivores who could depart from a meat diet. Because, ultimately, the emphatic gift blurred the boundaries between hunter and victim, between the successful and the defeated. As in the fusion withMercer, everyone ascended together or, when the cycle had come to an end, fell together into the trough of the tomb world. Oddly, it resembled a sort of biological insurance, but double-edged. As long as some creature experienced joy, then the condition for all other creatures included a fragment of joy. However, if any living being suffered, then for all the rest the shadow could not be entirely cast off. A herd animal such as man would acquire a higher survival factor through this; an owl or a cobra would be destroyed.
Evidently the humanoid robot constituted a solitary predator.

Related Characters: Rick Deckard, Al Jarry / Wilbur Mercer
Related Symbols: The Empathy Box
Page Number: 31
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 7 Quotes

Maybe Buster is jealous, Isidore conjectured. Sure, that would explain it; he and Wilbur Mercer are in competition. But for what?
Our minds, Isidore decided. They're fighting for control of our psychic selves; the empathy box on one hand, Buster's guffaws and off-the-cuff jibes on the other. I'll have to tell Hannibal Sloat that, he decided. Ask him if it's true; he'll know.

Related Characters: John Isidore (speaker), Al Jarry / Wilbur Mercer, Buster Friendly, Hannibal Sloat
Related Symbols: The Empathy Box
Page Number: 75
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 18 Quotes

"No, it's that empathy," Irmgard said vigorously. Fists clenched, she roved into the kitchen, up to Isidore. "Isn't it a way of proving that humans can do something we can't do? Because without the Mercer experience we just have your word that you feel this empathy business, this shared, group thing. How's the spider?"

Related Characters: Irmgard Baty (speaker), John Isidore, Al Jarry / Wilbur Mercer
Related Symbols: The Empathy Box
Page Number: 209-210
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 21 Quotes

It would have been rewarding to talk to Dave, he decided. Dave would have approved what I did. But also he would have understood the other part, which I don't think even Mercer comprehends. For Mercer everything is easy, he thought, because Mercer accepts everything. Nothing is alien to him. But what I've done, he thought; that's become alien to me. In fact everything about me has become unnatural; I've become an unnatural self.

Related Characters: Rick Deckard (speaker), Al Jarry / Wilbur Mercer, Dave Holden
Page Number: 230
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 22 Quotes

I'm a special, he thought. Something has happened to me. Like the chickenhead Isidore and his spider; what happened to him is happening to me. Did Mercer arrange it? But I'm Mercer. I arranged it; I found the toad. Found it because I see through Mercer's eyes.

Related Characters: Rick Deckard (speaker), John Isidore, Al Jarry / Wilbur Mercer
Related Symbols: The Toad
Page Number: 237
Explanation and Analysis:

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"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:

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Al Jarry / Wilbur Mercer Character Timeline in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

The timeline below shows where the character Al Jarry / Wilbur Mercer appears in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Humanity, Androids, and Empathy Theme Icon
Perception, Reality, and Power Theme Icon
Memory Theme Icon
Animals and the Environment Theme Icon
Commodification and Consumerism Theme Icon
...himself climbing up the side of a hill with, and as, a man named Wilbur Mercer. Suddenly, John feels a pain in his left arm—a rock has hit Mercer’s arm, and... (full context)
Humanity, Androids, and Empathy Theme Icon
Perception, Reality, and Power Theme Icon
Memory Theme Icon
Animals and the Environment Theme Icon
Commodification and Consumerism Theme Icon
Still gripping the handles of the empathy box, John, taking on Mercer’s personality, remembers “his” foster parents: they took care of him after they found him floating... (full context)
Chapter 7
Humanity, Androids, and Empathy Theme Icon
Perception, Reality, and Power Theme Icon
...paths with his boss, Hannibal Sloat. He tells Hannibal his theory about Friendly competing with Mercer for psychic control of the population. Hannibal snorts and says that the two men are... (full context)
Chapter 15
Humanity, Androids, and Empathy Theme Icon
Perception, Reality, and Power Theme Icon
Animals and the Environment Theme Icon
Commodification and Consumerism Theme Icon
...Iran tells Rick that to show gratitude for their good fortune, they should “fuse with Mercer.” It would be immoral, she adds, to keep so much pleasure to themselves. (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
...up the phone and grips the empathy box with Iran. He sees a vision of Mercer, an old and frail man. Mercer tells him, “There is no salvation.” It’s a basic... (full context)
Chapter 18
Humanity, Androids, and Empathy Theme Icon
Perception, Reality, and Power Theme Icon
Animals and the Environment Theme Icon
Commodification and Consumerism Theme Icon
On TV, Buster Friendly shows the audience photographs of Mercer, the founder of Mercerism. The photographs of Mercer prove that he uses fake backgrounds for... (full context)
Perception, Reality, and Power Theme Icon
Animals and the Environment Theme Icon
Commodification and Consumerism Theme Icon
...John has a vision in which he sees animals—donkeys, spiders, etc. He cries out for Mercer, and Mercer appears before him. He demands of Mercer, “Is the sky painted?” Mercer smiles... (full context)
Chapter 19
Humanity, Androids, and Empathy Theme Icon
Perception, Reality, and Power Theme Icon
Animals and the Environment Theme Icon
...are staying. John replies, “If you kill them you won’t be able to fuse with Mercer again.” Rick shrugs and walks past John, into the building. (full context)
Humanity, Androids, and Empathy Theme Icon
Perception, Reality, and Power Theme Icon
Memory Theme Icon
...Rick draws his gun and orders the figure to stop. The figure introduces himself as Mercer. Mercer explains to Rick that one of the people Rick is trying to kill is... (full context)
Chapter 20
Humanity, Androids, and Empathy Theme Icon
Memory Theme Icon
...get some rest. Rick hangs up the phone and bids John goodbye. Rick remembers what Mercer told him—all humans are guaranteed to “do wrong” during their lives. (full context)
Chapter 21
Humanity, Androids, and Empathy Theme Icon
Perception, Reality, and Power Theme Icon
Memory Theme Icon
Animals and the Environment Theme Icon
...praise him for retiring six androids in only one day. It occurs to Rick that Mercerism is an “easy” religion, because Mercer accepts absolutely anything as natural and “right.” (full context)
Humanity, Androids, and Empathy Theme Icon
Perception, Reality, and Power Theme Icon
Memory Theme Icon
Animals and the Environment Theme Icon
...climbs, a stone hits him on the cheek. Rick has a strange sense that Wilbur Mercer is waiting for him at the top of the hill. Before Rick reaches the top... (full context)
Chapter 22
Humanity, Androids, and Empathy Theme Icon
Perception, Reality, and Power Theme Icon
Memory Theme Icon
Animals and the Environment Theme Icon
Commodification and Consumerism Theme Icon
...Furthermore, there’s a massive reward for discovering an animal previously considered extinct. Rick wonders if Mercer arranged for him to find the toad, as toads are the animal most sacred to... (full context)
Humanity, Androids, and Empathy Theme Icon
Perception, Reality, and Power Theme Icon
Animals and the Environment Theme Icon
...strong sense of connection to the toad, and realizes that he’s seeing the world through Mercer’s eyes. Excited to show Iran what he’s found, Rick drives back to San Francisco. (full context)