Philip K. Dick leads his readers into understanding the relationship between humanity and the environment and how changes when humanity is struck with adversity. It is asserted that the human condition will continue to place importance on material possessions, although society and the possession itself changes in “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” by Philip K. Dick. In the novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” by Philip K. Dick the only humans left living on earth are able to prove superior social status with the ownership of an authentic animal. The owners begin a relationship with animals because they symbolize what’s left of mother-nature in which heightens an individual’s rank. The protagonist in the novel is Rick Deckard who is known as a bounty hunter. Since there is little life on earth he owns an electric sheep, but his neighbor Bill Barbour owns a Percheron Colt. In the novel Deckard beliefs: Humans are able to radiate their social status through living animals.
In the novel owning an animal is essential because there rare and significant in comparison to modern times when we take animals for granted. One of the main themes in the novel is empathy and they seem to only have it towards animals. Since they have killed off possibly all living things they are trying to grasp the little life left on earth. Having the possession of a real animal is seen as an economic gain. Rick Deckard is not too fond of his electric sheep because it’s not real and he does not feel he could feel empathy for and electric sheep.: The aftermath of World War Terminius has made every character value the small things in life. Rick says he wants more than a domestic pet he says, “I want what I originally had, a large animal. A sheep, or if I can’t get the money, a cow or a steer or what have, a horse.” (14) He will not settle for less, he wants something he could be proud of and have to showcase just like his neighbor Barbour that owns a real stallion. This aspect of the novel displays human relationship to the environment only exists due to the deterioration of animal life.
If it were not for the limited living animal circumstances then perhaps humans would not have empathy for the animals. It is apparent that they did not take precaution before the war since they did not realize the damage of the war would jeopardize the environment ecosystem. So much so that Rick states, “having two animals is more immoral than not having any.”(10) This shows how limited real living animals are in 2021 and that no one should have more than one. Some people are unable to at least have one and Rick’s neighbor was considering having two. Deckard is bothered by his neighbor’s greediness to want more than one real animal. Especially after the fact that Ricks expresses to how he wishes he could own a real animal. This also shows how people have become one for one. They seem to have lot the possibility to care for one another throughout the novel, what is important now is their social status. This novel tries to send a message early on about the importance of our priorities as humans.
American values have shifted over the years. According to an article on PBS called The Rise of American Consumerism it states “After World War II, consumer spending no longer meant just satisfying an indulgent material desire. In fact, the American consumer was praised as a patriotic citizen in the 1950’s, contributing to the ultimate success of the American way of life.” Spending on material goods was more than just a want it was a way of life. Americans at this time were getting over the depression and so once the economy began to rise so did there spending habits. The problem was not that they were spending but they were over spending on everything and anything. Since then the way that Americans spend has only increased.
In the novel Philip K Dick writes from the future and shows the horrid side to the ways of Americans, and the outcome of human’s values. Dick challenges our perception towards humanity and animal life and convinces to make animal existence a priority. Throughout the novel Rick Deckard is portrayed in different perspectives. Deckard is really motivated as a bounty hunter, so he retires androids for a living and he depends on his income in order to purchase an animal. This reflects that the novel is relevant to American consumerism and how we look forward for a better economic status. In the novel, Animal consumerism is key, but not to consume to nurture and protect. And Americans are so common to consumerism that they well purchase anything and eat anything.
That being said, we as Americans tend to be careless about what arrives on our dinner plates without realizing that it was once a living thing. Dick’s novel brings awareness to our mindset that we should acknowledge the value of things instead of making them secondary and neglecting them. Its main focus is to give importance to mother “nature”. Ideas that are claimed throughout this novel are very concurrent to present time. The idea of empathy and how humans must feel alive through other living things is very powerful. Owning a real live animal most certainly is a way to keep humans grounded. Phillip K. Dick gives a theoretical statement on how we as human beings should give more recognition towards life values, or prepare to pay consequences that will lead to animal shortage.
Ewe Robot: ‘Philip K. Dick and Philosophy’ Academia.edu. Anthology ‘Philip K. Dick and Philosophy’. 24 May 2011. Web. 20 Apr. 2014.
Dick, Philip K., and Philip K. Dick. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? New York: Ballantine, 1996. Print.
WGBH. “General Article: The Rise of American Consumerism.” PBS by WGHB EducacationFoundation.Web.1996-2013.