Study Guide

The Man in the High Castle Gender

By Philip K. Dick

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Philip K. Dick may not be all that interested in exploring notions of femininity and masculinity, but they sneak in anyhow. Issues of femininity may not be clear, since The Man in the High Castle isn't exactly overflowing with women characters. There's Frank's ex-wife Juliana, Hawthorne's wife Caroline, Paul's wife Betty, Tagomi's secretary Miss Ephreikian, Wyndam-Matson's date Rita, and… well, that's curious. Note how each of these women characters has some clear relation to a male character, often a relation where the man has more power or importance in the story. (Another way to look at this: only one of the seven POV characters is a woman.) Even if the book focuses on other issues, gender influences how these characters think about each other and themselves.

Questions About Gender

  1. In this book, does women's power differ from men's power? Do the different genders have different sources of power? How can you tell?
  2. Do the gender issues seem strange because the Nazis won or because the 1960s was a long time ago? What do you think it would be like to read this book as a woman in the 1960s?
  3. Are there lots of interactions between men and women in this book? How do their interactions differ from those times when men have to deal with men (or that one time that a woman has to interact with a woman)?
  4. Is there an ideal man or woman in this book? Do the characters get punished for failing to meet some ideal of masculinity-femininity?

Chew on This

The genders may be different, but The Man in the High Castle ultimately notes that both men and women can become enlightened.

In The Man in the High Castle, traditional notions of masculinity and femininity no longer apply. Just as characters have to break out of their racial "prejudice," so they have to break out of their gender prejudice.

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