Study Guide

The Man in the High Castle Society and Class

By Philip K. Dick

Society and Class

In The Man in the High Castle, society is separated by class (W-M is rich and powerful vs. Frank Frink, who isn't). It's separated by race (or ethnicity: Jews, Germans, Japanese, whatever Childan is). And it's also separated by "gender" (and that's a whole other story, for "Themes: Gender"). In other words, it's kind of like the society outside right now… plus Nazis. But since this story largely takes place in Japanese-influenced west coast, one of the big questions here is how Japanese and American society can fit together. We also see how different characters feel about this social situation, from Tagomi's interest to Childan's hostility.

Questions About Society and Class

  1. Is there any vision of a post-war society in this book? Will the different groups succeed in forming one society?
  2. Besides Childan, what other characters are obsessed (or, okay, interested) in social rules? Does Tagomi worry about social norms between the Americans and Japanese? Does he worry about Japanese social norms? What about Reiss?
  3. Are there other factors besides wealth, race, and gender that dictate one's social standing in this book? Is power another way to define classes here? Artistic skill?
  4. Does any group come off seeming innocent or pure or just plain better in this book? Or does every character from every group have his-her own flaws? How can you tell?

Chew on This

In this book, there are many ways that society is split (class, race, gender, height, baseball ability), but there are no insurmountable divisions. Everyone here can talk to, and relate to, everyone else.

Dick shows so many POVs in order to give a widely social view, including loyal Nazis, rich Americans, Japanese administrators, and ordinary people caught up in these conflicts.

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