Apr 22 2017
How are real animals and andriod animals distinguished in the book “Do Andriods Dream of Electric Sheep”? How does this distinguishment effect the theme of empathy defining humans?
Within the book “Do Andriods Dream of Electric Sheep”, real animals and andriod animals are continuously brought up. The idea of owning a real animal seems to be a concerning matter to humans in the futuristic society. In the beginning, Deckard couldn’t afford to buy a real animal, so he decided to buy an electric sheep. He displays a desire of owning a real animal. Even though animal he bought is fake, he takes care of it as if it were real. Declared describes the inability of andriods to keep an electric animal alive by stating, “animals require an environment of warmth to flourish.” This statement poses the question of whether andriods can really feel empathy required to desire and own an animal. In reality, andriods can’t. Although andriods may resemble humans physically, they lack human empathy, which distinguishes them from humans in the novel. Looking at this perspective, if andriods can mimic humans in appearance, so can electric animals mimic the appearance of real animals. However, both creations, the andriods and electric animals, lack empathy. The electric animals can be compared to the andriods in this way. They don’t hold any emotional ties in terms of feeling empathy. The idea of owning a real animal gives a sense of authenticity to humans. It helps them feel reassured of their human side. In the article, Post Human Wounds: Trauma, Non-Anthropocentric Vulnerability, And the Human/ Andriods/ Animal Dynamic In Philip K. Dicks Do Andriods Dream of Electric Sheep?”, Tony M. Cinch states, “While the animal is positioned perfectly to open the human to new registers of subjectivity, and thus pain manage- ment and ethics, it becomes yet another scapegoat. However, unlike the android, the animal is made invisible not because of its subhuman status but because of the overburden of semiotic weight that it carries. As Vint clarifies, within the novel, “Owning and caring for an animal is a sign of one s social and economic status and also an expression of one’s human- ity” (“Speciesism” 112).” The inability to own a real animal drives Deckard to feel shameful and angry at owning an electric animal. In the book, animals, are valued for their ability to provide a sense of human existence, which is a growing concern in the book to character, such as Deckard. Animals are proof that the human is indeed a “specialized category” in his or her ability to empathize and care for animals. Nevertheless, the owning of a real animal emphasizes how essential it is to the human nature within the book in terms of escaping the emptiness, exploiting the empathetic relationship that humans hold towards living creatures in contrast to the andriods, the ability own something real and humanity. Whereas, owning an electric animals causes the characters to develop a sense of betrayal, grief, and inability to sense what real due to owning a fake replacement that is only a lie.