Study Guide

The Man in the High Castle Strength and Skill

By Philip K. Dick

Strength and Skill

All the characters in The Man in the High Castle have their own flaws, but let's look on the bright side: they also have various strengths and skills. For instance, Frank Frink is great at forging fake Civil War guns, while Tagomi is great at waiting, and Reiss is great at pretending to work while reading a banned book. Okay, so they're not exactly superpowers, but these various skills do help these characters play certain roles in this story, especially when they're combined. For instance, Abendsen may be a good writer (or be good at taking dictation), but his book only becomes enlightening when we add Juliana's skill with the I Ching.

Questions About Strength and Skill

  1. Are there any instances where characters' skills come into conflict? How do those conflicts get sorted out?
  2. Do we ever see anyone gain skill or strength during this book? How do characters become skilled? For instance, Juliana teaches judo, but how did she learn it? How did Frank Frink learn to use the I Ching or fake antiques?
  3. Do any of the characters have the wrong skills for their positions? For instance, if you put Childan in Juliana's position, would things work out? Why or why not?
  4. Which skill seems most useful? Whose skill would you want to have? Why?

Chew on This

Each person's skill is useful, but the most important skill is the ability to read the I Ching and understand one's role in history.

The Man in the High Castle shows that strength and skill are no use against real power or, even better, against faith in yourself. (Yeah, it sounds cheesy, but check out Childan's story.)

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