Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Representation in the novel

Representation is a term that can be defined in various ways. When it comes to dealing with Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep a good definition would be as a “presentation to the mind, as of an idea or image” (Dictionary.com). In other words it’s how one would perceive something. This can include the representation of the scenes through the eyes of the reader as well as through the eyes of the characters. The book is all about technology and it’s the technology that has shaped the representation of the world in the book.

Technology has completely affected what the world has become as a whole after World War Terminus and what people value in the book. Life on Earth became scarce and dust was everywhere. It’s described in many occasions as desolate lonely world. Many animals have become extinct and the ones who lived on were rare. Technology however was everywhere and easy to come by and as a result the worth of both was reversed. In our world technology is craved. Billions of dollars are spent each year on new gadgets. No one in their right mind would think thousands of dollars a month to have a goat as pet. As a result of the multitude of technology and miniscule amount of animals people would pay all of their money to have an animal in the post-WWT world in the book. They are viewed as extremely precious beings. It became a visceral reaction to people to cringe if they saw any animal harmed. The representation of animals in the novel is completely different from how we would see them due to dramatic changes in the world.

The representation of androids in the novel is changed drastically as the reader learns more. You start off thinking that androids are machines on the inside but on the outside look just like humans. When Rick shoots Polokov in the head he describes it as “… Its brain box burst. The Nexus-6 unit which operated it blew to pieces …. Bits of it, like the radioactive dust itself, whirled down on Rick…. he found himself struggling to shove the twitching remnants of the android away” (82). When you hear things like brain box and twitching remnants you think more of a machine when in actuality it’s not the case. The only way you can tell the difference between an android and a human is in the bone marrow. Knowing that, obviously it would have looked like a brain exploding and a dying person twitching not that of a machine. The world that Rick lives in has changed his own perception of the androids. Although physically they look like humans he convinces himself by describing them in a way to make them seem as nothing more than machines.

The empathy box in the book creates another world for the characters inside their own world. It’s like another dimension of their life where you can feel peoples pain. If you’re hurt in that world you’re also injured in the real world. The box has blurred a line between technology and the real world. Even though you aren’t physically being hit by a rock you’re still injured. This is an incomprehensible idea to me because it’s so far advanced from the technologies we have today. It would be like the movie Stay Alive where people whose character died in a video game would die in the same manner in real life. The world in the novel can be seen as a very different place from our world due to the many technological advances that have shaped it.

The world today can also be seen as a place that is rapidly changing due to technology. A few thousand years ago the world was disconnected. People living in different areas thought they were the center in a flat somewhat small world. It was various forms of technology that connected everyone and showed that world was a sphere. Even now things like video phones are making it possible to have conversions with people on the other side of the planet as if they were right in front of you. Like the novel technology has played a key role in changing how the world is perceived.

1 comment:

Adam Johns said...

Good definition.

Your second paragraph takes a long time to make your point - you would have done well to clarify your argument (which deals with how *animals* are represented) at the beginning, instead of deep into the paper. Still, it's a good and interesting argument, once you begin to make it.

Your discussion of how androids are represented is also quite good, but I would have liked - again - for your *overall* argument to be a little clearer.

The same comment holds true of your discussion of the empathy box.

Overall: This is your best work. A better, clearer thesis, and better transitions to match that thesis, would have helped it out a lot. But even as it stands you have a great grasp of the prompt, and you develop three examples very well, even in the absence of good transitions. This could easily have been a ten with a better structure.