The Man in the High Castle

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The Man in the High Castle

In the novel, The Man in the High Castle, by Philip K. Dick, America and it's allies lost World War II, and the former U.S.A. is now split up: Japan owning the West coast and Nazi Germany owning the East, with a sort of non-claimed “buffer” territory along the Rockies. The novel focuses on several characters, mainly residing in the Pacific States of America (PSA) and one living in the the buffer zone , going about their daily lives. Dick paints for us a very well-thought out alternate universe to our own. The Nazis have flown a man to Mars, can travel from Germany to San Francisco in 45 minutes by high-speed rocket, have drained the Mediterranean Sea for farmland, and have made slavery legal again. As we discussed in class, Philip K. Dick was regarded as one of the first postmodern writers. Postmodernism concerns itself with breaking down certainties, assumptions, and definitions: there is no unified “truth”. In this novel, Dick explores the relationship between what we perceive as real and fake, and whether or not those “realities” are absolutely concrete.

The Japanese have acquired quite a taste for American “collectibles” from the pre-war era, such as Civil War guns, and old comic books, and Disney memorabilia. One of the characters, Frank Frink (who's real name is Frank Fink: a secret Jew) makes a living making and artificially aging Colt hand guns to sell as Civil War memorabilia. Because there is such a high demand for these pieces of Americana, there is of course, a quite lucrative market for fakes. Frank's boss, Wyndham-Matson, who owns the company that sells the fakes to retailers, has a conversation with his girlfriend about what makes an item have “historicity”. He has two Zippo lighters, one of which he claims to have been in Roosevelt's pocket when he was shot, and another identical one that was not. He asks her to see if she can tell which one it was by examining them, and of course, she cannot. This he uses as to...
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