As the novel comes to an end, one of the biggest things I took away from the final chapters was Rick’s transformation and emersion into Wilbur Mercer. In addition to this, we also understand that “Mercerism” is said to be a false religion by Buster Friendly. However, Deckard claims it is real. It’s as real as you make it to be. In chapter 21 Rick tells his secretary “Mercer isn’t a fake,” he said. “Unless reality is a fake.” Throughout the novel, especially within these last couple of chapters, we as readers are constantly question one thing against the other. What makes humans different than androids, electric animals versus real animals, and reality versus virtual reality? I believe it’s P.K.D’s way of saying that it really doesn’t matter. In my opinion, Iran had it right all along when she felt bad for those “andy’s” in the beginning. You see toward the end of the novel that they themselves show levels of emotion and empathy, especially when Rick shoots Mrs. Baty. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Baty,” Rick said, and shot her. Roy Baty, in the other room, let out a cry of anguish. “Okay, you loved her,” Rick said. “And I loved Rachael. And the special loved the other Rachael.” (pg. 112 PDF version). Here the android showed their sign of emotion and empathy, crying in pain as his loved one died. Again, this is P.K.D’s way of challenging us to question what it is that makes us human, and whether or not androids are really that much different.
Another interesting way P.K.D. uses challenging themes is when determining what is real versus what is fake. This ties directly with the question of human versus non-human or “humanoid.” Humans are perceived to be the “real” ones while andy’s are the “fake” ones. But it gets blurred, as we see Rick falling in love with Rachel and John falling in love with Pris Stratton. However, we also see this when trying to determine the difference between real and fake in terms of our own consciousness. Wilbur Mercer begins to appear outside of the empathy box to Rick and John. Objects that hit Rick and John manifest themselves as real wounds when they are no longer in the empathy box. In addition, we see that Phil Resch is indeed a human, but you’d never know by the way he acts and his lack of empathy. It is this constant question of what is real versus what is not.
All in all I think the novel was a great way to make us evaluate ourselves as human beings. All of us are equal, despite any differences we may have. Rick begins to realize this as he questions the morality of killing androids. Toward the end, he asks Mercer and his wife if what he is doing is wrong, which he did not do before. He says to his wife “You were right this morning when you said I’m nothing but a crude cop with crude cop hands.” (chpt. 21 pg.121 pdf). Rick begins to have empathy with electric things, and is symbolically represented through the toad, which he now views through Wilbur’s point of view. It isn’t fake unless reality is fake.
I really enjoyed your breakdown of the final reading. Your point about religion being as real as we want it to be, really can be applied to ourselves.