Here there is no such confusion, despite the attempts of Rachel Rosen, the epitome of sophisticated android intelligence, to convince him that he might be a machine too. Deckard even has a wife and, for a painfully brief time, a real live goat, instead of the electronic sheep which causes him secret shame and drives his need to 'retire' six highly dangerous androids and reap a huge bonus.
Underlying the novel, as is often the case with Dick's work, are questions of what it is to be alive: do we embrace and therefore fully experience our existence, or do we allow fears, distractions, the opinions of others, the need to pay bills, etc; do we allow all this to dampen our sensations and lessen the quality of our lives? Not for nothing does Deckard note that 'Most androids I've known have more vitality and desire to live than my wife.' If an android is capable of independent thought, if it is capable of fearing for its own life, then how exactly is it different from human beings besides the fact that beneath its organic skin it needs electronics to animate it? It could be argued that we're all somewhat android anyway - what is it that actually makes our heart beat and pump blood around the body if not an electrical charge?
When it comes to dispatching the renegade androids there are no glorious last words from Roy Baty, as there are in the film adaptation, but this does not make the novel a lesser entity. It is the fact that in the end Baty and his friends just give in to their fate that stays with the reader. Dick is clearly fascinated with decay, with the dying of the American Dream, of Enlightenment thinking itself. For the author there is something beautiful, even inspirational about the potential failure of Rationalism. We wake up, we go to work, we come home, we sleep. Unless we question the why and the wherefore of our daily lives, Dick is telling us, we might as well be pre-programmed androids shuffling from one mindless task to the next.