Representation of mental oddity in two novels by Philip K. Dick
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The paper focuses on two novels featuring several examples of Dick’s characters who experience mental incapacities, breakdowns or suffer from serious mental states. In one of his novels, Martian Time-Slip (1964), the writer makes use of the possibilities of the “space-opera” setting to create a dramatic narrative featuring two people whose comprehension of the surrounding reality differs from that of the “normal” characters. The novel discusses the social incongruity of those who are considered mentally ill, and their struggle to overcome society’s conformity and ignorance, when it comes to accepting such people in society. The two focal characters are Manfred Steiner and Jack Bohlen; the former is an autistic child and the latter suffers from a latent form of schizophrenia. Both of them struggle to survive in the grim and oppressive environment of human colonies on Mars. In a much later novel, A Scanner Darkly (1977), Dick explores the process of gradual disintegration of human mind, resulting from excessive use of drugs. Bob Arctor, a local junkie, who is, in fact, an under-cover government agent, infiltrates the community of drug users. However, his cover forces him to take drugs, which leads him to serious brain damage resulting in schizophrenic fits and imminent mental disintegration.
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