The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick

Author's TMitHC webpage

Group Members:
Connor O
Jack W
Dan C
Matt G
Nate S
Mike M
Luke P
Sam K
Liz Y.*

Discussion Time:

Thursday January 7th 4W 11:09-12:39


1. Discussion Facilitator and Participant's Names
2. Clarifying Questions

-What is the significance of the style of writing?
-The ending is a little confusing. What does it mean in terms of the rest of the novel?
-How does The Grasshopper Lies Heavy influence the characters of the book?
•What happened during the last 2 pages of the book?
•The oracle was a huge part in the life of almost every character in the book. Why was this so popular and how does the oracle work?
•What is Tao?
•Why was Tagomi so effected after he killed the two German SD men?
•Usually in stories involving alternate realities, there is one distinct event that changes the course of history. Was there such an event in the book and what do you think it was? For example, it may have been the assassination of FDR.
3. Characters
Nobusuke Tagomi- Japanese Trade Missions official in the PSA. often bought things for himself and clients at American Artistic Handicrafts. Signs for the release of Frink.
Frank Frink- Changed his name from Fink to Frink because he is Jewish. worked at Wyndham-Matson making fake antiques. Later started Edfrank Jewelry with coworker Ed McCarthy. Arrested for the money he got from Wyndham-Matson and almost was sent to Germany to be exterminated but is saved by Tagomi.
Juliana Frink- Divorced wife of Frank Frink. Dated and killed a special forces German commando who had been assigned to kill the author of The Grasshopper Lies Heavy.
Robert Childan- Owns American Artistic Handicrafts which deals antiques and other things. Many of his customers are Japanese, and he adopts some of their mannerisms even though in his mind he still strongly dislikes them because of the outcome of the war.
Wyndham-Matson- Former employer of Frank Frink and Ed McCarthy.
Mr. Baynes (Rudolph Wegener)-
How many undercover men are there in society? I get the notion that there are definitely people in the society that doubt the customs of this new world and wonder how much plotting against the dictatorship is present.
Hawthorne Abdensen - Writer of The Grasshopper Lies Heavy. What was the real meaning of his book?
4. Narration
It seems as if there is no narration rather than the story being told by a certain individual depending on what scene the novel is at.
• Which of these characters had the most interesting story line?
• Would it have been helpful to have one narrator throughout the book?
5. Setting
The Rocky Mountains Buffer and Canada regions seem a bit vague to me. I understand the buffer concept between Japan and Germany but who actually controls the region? And is Canada completely independent? If that the case, it makes sense that the less fortunate (members of the Allies) would want to migrate up north?
•How does Philip Dick describe an America that is occupied and controlled by two foreign powers? Is it in a positive light?
•Why was Robert Childan so paranoid about offending the Japanese couple? He went to great lengths to ensure his clothes, comments, and house warming gift were absolutely perfect and still failed miserably. Do you think that this crushed him or made him see that all his precautions were absurd?
Why would the author choose to set the book in a PSA city?
6. Themes/Motifs
One of the major themes of this novel is of Childan's antique shop and the worth and value of things. What seemed intriguing to me was the world interest in old American artifacts. Why would they be so intrigued of their enemies history? Are they more focused on the enemies antiques rather than there own?
Another theme of the novel is false realities. It should be noted that the entire book is a false reality. What effect do the other false realities have on the story? Why would the author choose that as a central theme?
7. Style of Writing
The author's style of writing seems to leave out many words in the dialog. Why is this? Is it possibly due to many of the characters being foreigners, and thus not having perfect English?
8. Significant Passages
  • "By the time the Japs got their first spaceship off the ground the Germans would have the entire solar system sewed up tight" (11).
  • "They're not idealists like Joe and me; they're cynics with utter faith. It's a sort of brain defect, like a lobotomy - that maiming those German psychiatrists do as a poor substitute for psychotherapy" (36).
  • "Man has not eaten God; God has eaten man" (42).
  • "'…it's all a fake, a mass delusion. The paper proves its worth, not the object itself!'…the paper and lighter had cost him a fortune, but they were worth it - because they enabled him to prove that he was right, that the word 'fake' meant nothing really, since the word 'authentic' meant nothing really" (64).
  • "Amazing the power of fiction, even cheap popular fiction, to evoke" (125).
  • "I'm trying to pretend that these Japanese and I are alike. But observe: even when I burst out as to my gratification that they won the war, that my nation lost- there's still no common ground. What words mean to me is sharp contrast vis-á-vis them. Their brains are different. Souls likewise." (42% (Kindle))

9. Outside Resources
10. Technology in the Nazi world
Is the technology unrealistic? Why would the author make it this way?

Begin with each person stating something they thought of. Discuss from there. Could be same as what is discussed in posts.

fake trailer

Map of World as in novel

- Luke P.


This is an interesting alternate book cover.
link to more alternate book covers

Another, older cover:
external image mihccove.jpg
What kind of building is this "castle?"


Hugo Award Winner
Best Novel
Locus Magazine
Best All Time Novel nominee
Locus Magazine
Best All Time SF Novel nominee
Locus Magazine
Best SF Novel before 1990 nominee

An interesting review of the book.
- Jack W

A review praising his book