Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Discussion Questions

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

''Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?'' is a science-fiction novel, often known as the inspiration behind the film ''Blade Runner.'' These questions can help your students delve deeper into the novel.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is a 1968 science-fiction novel by American author Philip K. Dick. With this novel, students explore questions about humanity, empathy, and truth as they follow a bounty hunter tasked with executing six androids. Some students may be familiar with this novel, as it was loosely adapted into the Ridley Scott film Blade Runner. The following discussion questions can help your students explore the plot and themes of the novel in greater depth.

Questions about Plot and Characters

  • Who is the main protagonist of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, and how are we first introduced to him? What was your first impression of Deckard? How does this introduction to the character help us understand him, the world of the story, and the moral issues at stake?
  • How are we introduced to the fact that androids are part of this world? What are the first things we learn about androids? How does this introduce moral and practical stakes to the story? What do you think a society with life-like androids would be like? How does the author compare the human androids to animal robots? What does the presence of animal robots tell us about people in this society?
  • In one sentence, describe the plot of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. What is this novel about? How is the plot set in motion? What is each major character trying to achieve?
  • Describe Rick Deckard. Describe the six androids that Deckard encounters. How are they presented as being similar? How are they presented as being different? Which android does Deckard encounter first? How does this meeting set up Deckard's expectations for the rest of the novel? How does this introduce the concept of empathy?
  • What is the relationship like between Rachael and Deckard? How does the author make the audience believe there is truth to the characters' feelings for each other? How does the author cast doubt on this? What do we learn about Rachael? Do you think she was acting out of emotion or programming? What's the difference? Where's the line? Why do you think Rachael kills the goat that Deckard goat for Iran?
  • Who is Mercer? What does Mercer represent in this novel? What does he mean to the people in this society? How does the concept of Mercerism influence the novel? How does this define people's concepts of empathy? What do you think of this definition? How are the flaws in this exposed throughout the story? How is this complicated by Deckard's experiences in Oregon? What do you think the author is trying to say?

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