Chapter 18 was a standout for its doubling of real and synthetic. When John finds a spider as he’s moving his things to Pris’s apartment, he’s overcome with excitement. A live creature in his possession. Upon showing this to the androids, Pris examines the spider. She hypothesizes that the spider doesn’t need much legs and can make due with less than eight. She doesn’t share the same human feeling of finding something to be cherished. She doesn’t feel the sense of discovery or enthusiasm that John is feeling. She only has curiosity, whether her idea will do harm to the spider is of no concern to her. This is an example of the empathetic emotions they lack of the current world they live in; where animals are more valuable than precious stones or metals. John is the one who feels the real emotions. He’s seen enough of the torture the spider endures. “He carried it to the sink and there he drowned it. In him, his mind, his hopes, drowned too” (page 211). John feels like he is reaching an ultimate low. The only creature he ever got to have is dead, compounded with Buster Friendly’s announcement that Mercerism is sham; it is only fitting that the drowning spider symbolizes the little joy he was able to have and now it is gone.
The imagery of the spider shows how life will always find a way to grow, even in desolate conditions. “He knelt down and searched for it…the mutilated spider…he picked it up and held it in the palm of his hand. The bones…have reversed themselves; the spider is alive again.” This quote clearly shows how life can flourish again. John finds the mutilated spider in the tomb world. His belief in mercerism is still strong even though the TV says otherwise. The decay had begun to recede when he found the spider. He even meets Mercer who in fact, contends that he is a fraud also gives him the spider, newly restored. The tiny spider in this radioactive wasteland represents that tiny glimmer of hope in the dark times of life.