Nothing could be more impolite. To say, “Is your sheep genuine?” would be a worse breach of manners than to inquire whether a citizen’s teeth, hair, or internal organs would test out authentic.

This quote comes at the novel’s outset and implies Rick Deckard’s shame at owning an electric sheep as opposed to an organic one. He once had a living sheep, but it died from disease and he surreptitiously replaced it with a facsimile, though no one can tell the difference. Hiding this shame makes up a large part of his social role, since owning a living animal is a status symbol in his world. The fact that a living animal is a status symbol makes neighborly interactions more complex. No one can ask outright if their neighbor’s animal is real or fake. It would be too impolite. This shows how distinguishing between artificial and natural life is an important part of Rick Deckard’s world. Not only that, but telling the difference between organic and artificial life is difficult at every level of society.

[Deckard] thought, too, about his need for a real animal; within him an actual hatred once more manifested itself toward his electric sheep, which he had to tend, had to care about, as if it lived. The tyranny of an object, he thought. It doesn’t know I exist. Like the androids, it had no ability to appreciate the existence of others.

As he starts his long day in Chapter 1, Rick Deckard muses on his own electric sheep. The androids and electric animals have no sense, no awareness of others. Despite this lack of empathy, Deckard must keep up appearances and maintain his electric animal as if it were a living one. He comes to despise the animal for its falseness. He yearns for a living animal. He wants a sheep that would care about his own existence. This shows Deckard’s initial strong delineation between organic and artificial life. One he cares for, the other he does not.

Some female androids seemed to him pretty; he had found himself physically attracted by several, and it was an odd sensation, knowing intellectually that they were machines, but emotionally reacting anyhow.

In Chapter 8, Deckard thinks about his attraction to female androids as he tracks down Luba Luft, one of the androids on his list. Despite knowing they are machines, Deckard admits to feeling an emotional connection to the androids. This empathetic connection is ultimately what makes him doubt the difference between natural and artificial life forms. It is this empathetic connection that Rachael Rosen seeks to exploit. She wants to ruin Deckard as a bounty hunter by making him care about the androids. If he cares, he will no longer be able to “retire” them. For now though, he will continue his work as a bounty hunter and disregard his burgeoning feelings for female androids.

Her tone held cold reserve—and that other cold, which he had encountered in so many androids. Always the same: great intellect, ability to accomplish much, but also this. He deplored it. And yet, without it, he could not track them down.

This quote comes in Chapter 9, after Deckard apprehends Luba Luft. He senses the coldness of Luft’s machine mind and it makes him uncomfortable. But without this lack of affect, Deckard’s job would be confusing, if not impossible. The lack of affect is the only thing separating the machines from humans, and therefore his only metric for hunting them down. In a way, Deckard respects the androids. He respects their ability to accomplish things and their intellectual capacity. But the emotional coldness keeps him distant from the androids. He reflects that this coldness is essential to his own success as a bounty hunter. It is the only way he can tell artificial life from organic life.

He had an indistinct, glimpsed darkly impression: of something merciless that carried a printed list and a gun, that moved machine-like through the flat, bureaucratic job of killing. A thing without emotions, or even a face; a thing that if killed got replaced immediately by another resembling it. And so on, until everyone real and alive had been shot.

J.R. Isidore first learns about bounty hunters from his new companion, Pris Stratton in Chapter 13. Not knowing who or what a bounty hunter is, J.R. Isidore pictures a machine that moves quickly and kills people indiscriminately. It is his lack of understanding that gets things switched around in this way. In fact, the machines are actually the ones bounty hunters, who are human, seek to kill. Isidore has a deteriorated mind. He can only conceive of what’s right in front of him. He knows Pris is a friend and cannot think why someone or something would want to kill her. Therefore, he sees the bounty hunter as an indiscriminate machine, when really his companion is the machine, and the bounty hunter is human.