Summary: Chapter 18

Although Roy would have preferred to kill Isidore, Irmgard and Pris outvoted him, arguing that Isidore was useful. Now the four of them, like Rachael, eagerly await Buster Friendly’s big revelation. Isidore, setting his apartment up for the TV-watching session, finds a spider and shows it to Pris. He is horrified when she starts torturing the spider and the Batys join in. Meanwhile on TV, Buster and his Friendly Friends present proof that Mercerism is an elaborate fabrication. Mercer’s uphill struggle took place long ago, not on a real hillside but on a sound stage. The evidence includes an interview with an aging small-time actor named Al Jarry. The androids had known to expect this development, because Buster is one of them. Roy Baty is pleased that the phenomenon of empathy has been exposed as a giant fraud. 

Isidore drowns the mutilated spider to end its suffering. Overcome with empathy for the creature, he enters a trance and descends into the tomb world, another part of Mercer’s sufferings familiar to fusion participants. Mercer approaches. He admits to being Al Jarry, a fraud in the eyes of anyone focused on literal facts. Nonetheless, he will continue to search for souls who need lifting. Mercer then hands Isidore the spider, now made whole again. As he is about to reply to Mercer, Isidore is startled out of his trance—which had been induced by him using his empathy box—by a warning bell from the intruder alarm.

Summary: Chapter 19

Roy Baty sends Isidore into the hallway for a look. Making his way down the hallway and outdoors into what remains of an old garden, Isidore releases the spider Mercer restored to him. Rick appears out of the darkness. Without thinking, Isidore tells Rick about the androids in his apartment. Isidore is pleased at having important information to share. He turns uncooperative, however, after Rick calls him a chickenhead. Isidore warns Rick that killing the androids would mean exclusion from Mercerism. 

Entering the building, Rick encounters a shadowy figure. It is Mercer. He assures Rick that what Rick is doing has to be done. Mercer then warns Rick that Pris is lurking on the stairs. Rick turns. He is momentarily confused by Pris’s resemblance to Rachael, but he recovers just in time to kill Pris as she runs toward him. Rick then enters Isidore’s apartment. After the Batys fire at him, he shoots them both without much difficulty. The hard part, it turned out, was killing Pris, not Roy Baty. All the Rachael-model androids are designed to trigger feelings of love in male humans. Isidore, seeing that Pris is dead, cries silently.

Analysis: Chapters 18–19

In parallel to Deckard’s painful awakening about his feelings toward androids, J.R. Isidore confronts a new, contrasting point of view about his new friends, Pris, Roy, and Irmgard. Where he once found solace and solidarity with the androids, Isidore’s point of view changes, and he is horrified by their anti-empathetic behavior when Pris tortures a living spider. On top of that, Buster Friendly, once a reassuring connection to the outside world for Isidore, is debunking Isidore’s beloved Mercerism on TV, to the delight of Roy and Irmgard Baty. While Pris tortures the spider, Roy revels in the idea that human empathy is an arbitrary means for humans to justify the enslavement of artificial life. Isidore has no recourse but to retreat to his empathy box, seeking Mercer’s wisdom and the truth of his faith. Instead, he finds Al Jarry, the actor Buster Friendly has just exposed, who admits that Mercer is a fraudulent character, and Isidore’s beliefs are founded in a lie. Nonetheless, Jarry argues, life still needs saving. Isidore’s faith has been shattered but he is told to continue, as all life must, even in the face of certain annihilation, because new creation will continually emerge from Mercer’s “tomb world” in the cycles of life and death. Isidore’s degraded mind grapples with these new revelations, his point of view forever altered.

When Deckard arrives to finish his assignment, Mercer appears to reassure and remind him that all creation breeds its own destruction. Mercer assures him that the murders of the androids are necessary, that he must play the role of “the killers.” The real world too must possess both martyr-like figures and killers in balance. Deckard is destined to play the killer, says Mercer, to balance the universe’s opposing forces. Aided by this viewpoint, Deckard kills Pris Stratton, finding it to be his hardest “retirement” of an android due to her resemblance to Rachael Rosen. The Batys put up a fight, but ultimately show the passivity and detachment characteristic of androids in the novel. Deckard kills them in unglorious fashion, proving to Mercer that he can fulfill his duty as a killer, but Deckard is forever changed. No longer does he dream of living animals to buy with bounty money. Deckard empathizes fully with the androids, and his days as a bounty hunter are over. Rachael Rosen’s tactic, seduction to induce empathy, has ultimately been successful, and Deckard swears this will be his last destruction of life, artificial or not.