Study Guide

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Chapter 2

By Philip K. Dick

Chapter 2

  • The chapter opens with a discussion on World War Terminus, a world war so bad they skipped the numbering system altogether.
  • After this massive nuclear war, nuclear dust covered the planet, killing animals by the species load and forcing humans to emigrant into outer space.
  • Those who remained on Earth were slowly deteriorated in the dust until they either died or developed mental and genetic disorders to become "special."
  • One such special, John Isidore, is getting ready for work in a Northern California apartment building where he lives by himself. Not just the apartment is empty, either. He's the only tenant in the whole building.
  • He listens to a TV interview with a woman who immigrated to New New York on Mars, and we learn that the space colonists are horribly unoriginal in naming places.
  • Isidore is bitter that he has become a "chickenhead," i.e. his genetic makeup has become so messed up that he can't legally move to the colonies.
  • On the other hand, he has enough of a mind to keep a job at a false-animal repair firm.
  • Turning off the TV, Isidore is suddenly struck by the sounds of silence. Not the Simon and Garfunkel album either but the actual, physical silence.
  • He reaches for the empathy box and merges with the mind of Wilbur Mercer, a type of futuristic, virtual reality Christ-figure.
  • Isidore also merges with everyone else using an empathy box at that time, and together, they all join Mercer's climb up a hellish, rocky mountain side.
  • A rock strikes Mercer during the climb, and when Isidore disconnects from the empathy box, he is wounded where the rock hit him. (Or is it "them"?)
  • He cleans the wound and hears the muffled sound of a TV coming from somewhere else in the building.
  • Ecstatic he is no longer alone, Isidore rushes to the refrigerator and grabs a cube of margarine—never having neighbors before, he has no idea what to bring as a housewarming present. Hint: It's not margarine.
  • He rushes into the derelict apartment building to find his new neighbor.