Study Guide

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Chapter 1

By Philip K. Dick

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Chapter 1

  • Rick Deckard wakes up alongside his wife, Iran. Rick set his Penfield mood organ, so his mental state is currently set to ready-to-take-on-the-world mode. Man, where can we get one of those?
  • Iran evidently set hers to wrong-side-of-the-bed mode, and her depressed attitude brings Rick down in a bad way.
  • She says she set her Penfield mood organ because she wants to feel depressed every now and then.
  • After a couple's fight—where they both argue over who can set the mood organ to the most bickersome—Iran gives up on dialing a mood altogether, and Rick does so for both of them.
  • Details Snack: You might notice Iran's complaints include a commercial for "Montibank Lead Codpieces" (1.15). A codpiece is a bit of clothing dating back to the 1500s that covered a man's, let's say, manly regions (source). The lead part suggests this ensemble has come back into fashion to help protect men from the radiation, much like how your dentist puts a lead vest on you before taking x-rays. Of course, the company name Montibank is a play on the word mountebank, a person who sells quack medicine. So, we're guessing they don't work as advertised.
  • Rick breakfasts and heads to the room to care for the couple's sheep.
  • Bill Barbour, Rick's neighbor, appears on the roof to care for his horse and announces that the mare is pregnant.
  • Rick wonders if Bill has thought of selling the horse, but Bill feels it would be immoral for him to part with such a valuable animal as a colt. Besides, he points out, Rick has his sheep.
  • Rick reveals the creature's control panel. It's an electric sheep, which, in the future, is not as awesome as it sounds.
  • He explains that his real sheep, Groucho, died of tetanus. Rick purchased the mechanical sheep so as not to live with the shame of having no animal and because it was more affordable on his salary. We love a man who knows how to handle his money.
  • Bill promises not to tell anyone in the building and suggests some more affordable animals: a cat, mouse, or cricket perhaps? Rick, not being a wooden boy, doesn't want a cricket for a pet.
  • Spitefully, Rick tells Bill that his horse could die at any time, too. He heads to work.

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