A here we come to the final chapters of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. After reading the final chapters of the book, I can only say these final chapters were mind blowing as several events that take place change the perception of the entire novel. Sure enough Philip Dick produced a tremendous work in his novel by creating suspense and contradicting the minds of his readers. The final chapters are really interesting as they uncover major trues such as that the truly antagonists of this entire novel are not the androids, but the Rosen Association; that the character of Buster Friendly is an android; that Wilbur Mercer and the idea of Mercerism is a total sabotage, and some other major events. However, what I truly get away from this ending chapters is the spiritual encounter of the two characters, John and Rick, with the leader of the Mercerism religion, Wilbur Mercer. Through this encounter, Dick wants to show us how the apparition of Mercer to this characters transform their perception towards androids and the meaning of reality.
John Isidore is one of the first characters who enters into contact with Mercer and makes him change his perception of reality. After being discovered by Buster Friendly that Mercerism is a false religion, John enters into shock as everything that he believes about Mercer and his ideal of collective empathy, is crumbled down into pieces by the press. However, he remains convince of his own beliefs and refuses to believe that Mercerism is a sabotage as he states “Mercerism isn’t finished”(211). His strong convictions and ideals make him enter a stage where he can truly feel and see the presence of Mercer. In this encounter, Mercer reveals the actual true about his identity, but also, and what I found really interesting is the way he refers towards androids. Though the androids discovered the real true about him, Mercer’s empathy towards androids still remains as he say: “They’re sincere; their research is genuine”(214). Through this quote we observe that Mercer does not feel resentment or any sort of negative feelings towards them, but on the contrary, he wants to express that androids are not that different from humans as they can also can feel connections and emotions between them just like human beings. Another major example of Mercer’s influence on Isidore’s character is when he says to Isidore: “I lifted you from the tomb world just now and I will continue to lift you until you lose interest and want to quit”(215). I feel that this quote has a powerful effect in Isidore’s character since it tells that, although Mercer and his religion is a total fraud, Mercer will always stay within Isidore’s soul as long as he does not lose his faith on him. Mercer guarantees Isidore to be present inside him as long as he keeps looking life in an empathic way whether it is human or inhuman, real or unreal. As a consequence, Isidore’s emotions change for good as his belief and sympathy for androids is once again restored.
Rick is also another character in the novel who after entering in a profound contact with Mercer, starts depicting empathic emotions and questioning the meaning of reality. While reading the chapters, we observe that Mercer appears several times to Rick to guide him in his search towards the androids. However, after he accomplishes his mission of “retiring” the androids, Rick feels grief and remorse as if that everything he has done is immoral and cruel. He starts considering that the killing of the androids was something unnecessary as they could have lived among human in peace just as Mercer beliefs. This is revealed when he states that “for Mercer everything is easy, he thought, because Mercer accepts everything. Nothing is alien to him. But what I have done, he thought, that’s become alien to me. In fact everything about me has become unnatural; I’ve become an unnatural self”(230). Thought this quote we can see that Rick begins to shows empathy towards the androids as he starts thinking that humans and androids are not that much different from each other. However the major turning point for Rick is when he fuses with Wilbur Mercer without the “empathy box”. He is able to feel the close connection and suffering of the other individuals. Once for all, Rick is capable of feeling empathy towards the real and unreal, the human and non-human. The emersion with Wilbur Mercer makes him truly accept his religion of Mercerism as he tells his secretary “Mercer isn’t fake. Unless reality is a fake”(234). Rick realizes that what Mercer represents is not only a simple religion, but a way towards the survival of humankind as they share the suffering with the collective. The fusion with Mercer allows Rick to regain the empathic feeling he had lost before by killing all androids.
Really interesting blog Joselin! I’m choosing this as a “featured” post 🙂