Study Guide

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Isolation

By Philip K. Dick

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There's a lot of isolation in Do Androids Dream? and not just because Facebook isn't a thing. In the year 2021, the remnants of humanity live in cities to be closer together, but they're not exactly walking down the street shoulder-to-shoulder. Instead, people can live in entire apartment building by themselves. That's right, one person for an entire San Francisco downtown apartment. (Does the Google bus still run?) But isolation in the future isn't just physical. The social bonds that keep people together continue to grow more distant, and only the empathy box can bring them together—except even that turns out to push people apart.

Questions About Isolation

  1. How are Rick and Isidore's isolations different? How are they the same? Explain how this affects your reading of the theme.
  2. Is any character in the novel completely isolated? If yes, who and why? If not, why not?
  3. Did any of the androids manage to break through their built-in isolation and make a connection with either a human or another android? If so, who, and where do you see this? If not, why not? What does this tell you about isolation and androids?

Chew on This

Isolation comes from empathy, but you can't fake it. In the end, Rick has to turn off the empathy box to learn how to feel.

It's hard to feel isolated living in a city like San Francisco (population 825,111, and that's not even a particularly large city). But in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, isolation is a state of mind.

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