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Summary: Chapter 15

As soon as his workday is officially over, Rick heads for an animal dealership. He uses his bounty money from killing Polokov, Luba and Garland as down payment on a genuine Nubian goat. Examining the goat in its rooftop enclosure, Iran is excited to own a real animal again. She insists on sharing her happiness with others, through fusion with Mercer. The choice to return to the apartment proves unfortunate, as Bryant catches Rick by vidphone. Bryant tasks Rick with immediately retiring Roy and Irmgard, who have been tracked to their new location, but could be gone by morning. 

Rick is physically exhausted, and he is unsettled by his newfound sympathy for androids. During Rick’s turn at the empathy box, Mercer gives him a message of despair: There is no salvation. In a bleak and resigned mood, Rick begins planning how to move against the remaining androids. He resolves to get out of the bounty hunting business if he survives this assignment. Unsure how he will handle several androids at once, he decides to enlist Rachael’s help. Rachael protests that it is too late in the day for her to fly down from Seattle. She changes her mind when Rick, lying, promises to stop pursuing the remaining andys and suggests that they meet at a hotel.

Summary: Chapter 16

Rachael arrives at the hotel with a bottle of bourbon. When Rick shows her his files on the remaining androids, she looks through them but then reminds Rick of his promise to leave the andys alone. Increasingly drunk on the bourbon, she shares her real reason for flying down on short notice: she wants to learn how the Nexus-6 androids are distinguishable from humans. The information will be used in the design of the Nexus-7. Rick, meanwhile, has decided that killing Roy Baty will be his main challenge. Rick has mixed feelings about killing Pris, because she is the same model as Rachael and physically identical. Rachael coaxes Rick into sleeping with her, promising she will kill Pris if he takes care of the other two.

Summary: Chapter 17

It is night. As Rick and Rachael fly toward the suburb where the remaining androids are hiding, she reveals that she has been trying to get him to stop hunting androids. She has, in fact, had sex with nine bounty hunters. Of all of them, only Resch was able to continue hunting androids afterward. Rick decides to kill her, but like others before him, he can’t bring himself to follow through. He turns his hovercar back toward the hotel, to drop Rachel off there so he can proceed alone. She uses the remaining time of their trip to tease Rick about his new goat and to keep an ear tuned to the radio. Buster Friendly is about to make a long-promised big announcement, and she wants to hear it.

Analysis: Chapters 15–17

In another important and bewildering section of the book, Rick Deckard confronts his empathy for androids in a series of escalating attempts to find a solution to the problem. First, his impulsive purchase of a living goat both elates and worries Deckard and Iran. The goat means higher social status, but comes with monthly payments and upkeep, proving the difficulty of the Deckards finding a meaningful path in a meaningless world. When the goat does not soothe his troubled conscience, Rick takes an unexpected turn on the empathy box. But instead of mercy or forgiveness, Mercer delivers a devastating message: Deckard will do immoral things no matter what. Mercer tells him that this is the curse of all life because creation breeds destruction, and there’s no way out of the loop. Conflicted and still on the job, Deckard is reluctant to continue killing androids until he has confronted his own feelings for them and does so in a night alone with Rachael.

Deckard and Rachael’s night in the hotel brings protagonist and antagonist together and mixes their mutual attraction with mutual distrust. Rachael’s reluctance to help Deckard kill more androids is quickly soothed by his offer to get them a hotel room, since she assumes he will not “retire” any androids if he’s in bed with her. At the hotel, Rachael’s true motivations finally become clear, and she steps fully into her role as antagonist. She never meant to help Deckard kill the escaped androids, but only wanted to know his methods so the Rosen Association’s next brain model can defeat his precious Voigt-Kampff test. Now that she’s offered herself to Deckard sexually, he can’t refuse. Even this sexual act is transactional, as Rachael promises to kill the android of her same make and model, Pris Stratton, so that Deckard won’t have to. 

Rachael’s deception—her willingness to help Deckard “retire” the androids—goes beyond espionage for her company, and she uses empathy to fight back against the bounty hunters. Her “uncle” Eldon has deployed her before, always with the same goal, to seduce bounty hunters and make them feel empathy for their android victims, thus forcing them to leave their line of work. With Deckard, it seems she has again succeeded in her mission, but Deckard refuses to let Rachael win completely, unable to avoid the pressures of his job and his status in society. He will remain a bounty hunter for at least as long as it takes him to kill the three remaining androids on his list. Once Rachael realizes Deckard won’t kill her, she teases him bitterly for his twisted empathic reactions. Deckard’s crisis of empathy has reached its climax through Rachael’s antagonism.