Chapters 16-22 of, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick, brings up an obvious question, as to what is indeed real or not real? With scenes involving Mercer, it really isn’t that obvious to distinguish what is real or the opposite. Evidently, looking at Isidore and the spider.
A scene that really caught my attention was the exposure of Wilbur Mercer being a false god. Surprisingly though, the news was delivered by Buster Friendly who says, “Mercerism is a swindle!” (209). Not to mention that Buster is indeed an android, but was the only one able to successfully deceive all of the humans surrounding him and pass as an actual being. The exposure of Mercerism as false didn’t seem to phase the believers of the religion at all. As we see that Isidore and Deckard very much believe in the existence of Mercer and all of his properties as a god. Both individuals, yet living unmistakably different lives, experienced Mercer at his finest. Helping them through situations where they felt helpless and sought help. I suppose that through experiences, that is the only genuine way to comprehend whether something is real or not.
After the spider was heavily mutilated by Pris, we see our first glimpse as to what can be real or fake. When the legs of the spider was being cut off, one after the other, Isidore was mortified, being a follower of Mercerism, this reaction was natural. Isidore then drowns the spider in the sink preventing Pris from harming it any further. Later on, John uses the empathy box to fuse with Mercer in his time of need, which then Mercer restores life onto the spider. During the fusion, Mercer says, “‘Before I forget it, I have something of yours here.’ He opened his fingers. On his hand rested the mutilated spider, but with its snipped-off legs restored” (215). A miracle, is the proper way to describe this scene. The powers that only a divine can perform. John’s belief in Mercerism is what caused that spider to return to its original form, and the miracle performed by Mercer himself shows that he indeed exists. Again, unless you experience something first hand, that is the only way of knowing if something is real or not.
Mercer’s presence saved Rick from getting killed by Pris. Rick mentioned to Rachael that he was going to have a hard time retiring Pris because she looks exactly like her. If it wasn’t for Mercer, Rick could have been killed by Pris. When Deckard was searching the premises of the conapt, Mercer then appears during his time of need and the text mentions, “Raising his arm, he pointed at the stairs behind Rick. ‘I came to tell you that one of them is behind you and below, not in the apartment. It will be the hard one of the three and you must retire it first.’ The rustling, ancient voice gained abrupt fervor. ‘Quick, Mr. Deckard. On the steps'” (220-221). If it wasn’t for Mercer, Deckard would have evidently let his emotions get the best of him and perish by the likes of Pris. The presence of Mercer gave Deckard the realization that he is indeed real. He was there during his time of need, and offered help. Thus, ultimately disregarding all of the evidence piled up by Buster claiming that Mercer is false.
Overall, the final chapters of the novel were very interesting as it held the theme of deciphering what is real or a mere illusion. Mercerism being the main topic at hand, how is it that an android is able to determine what is real or fake? Androids being typically seen as a synthetic humanoid, or a false person. It really caught my attention when an android was proving something as false, and actually telling humans what is real or fake.