I asked a similar question but thought it best to delete and rewrite from scratch.

There is already a question asking How did “A Scanner Darkly” actually end? but I more curious in how Bob intends to achieve his goal and what exactly he's thinking.

At the end of the book (and movie) Bob (aka Bruce) puts a flower into his shoe:

Stooping down, Bruce picked one of the stubbled blue plants, then placed it in his right shoe, slipping it down out of sight. A present for my friends, he thought, and looked forward inside his mind, where no one could see, to Thanksgiving.

I know of two interpretations, both assuming Bob realize the plant is the source of substance D:

  1. Bob wants to give the flower to his friends as a gift so they can get high from it, or possibly he just thinks it's a pretty flower and wants to share it with them (he is brain damaged after all).
  2. Bob wants to expose New Path and knows there are undercover cops in New Path.

My interpretation was 1. but I've seen other people who think 2. and don't understand it. To me this is a very large significance: it's basically the difference between a happy ending and a sad one.

The identity of undercover officers is almost always kept secret from each other, that's why they wear scramble suits in the office. Also where in the book or movie does it say that there are other undercover officers in New Path (the linked to question seems to assume this)? If there are under cover officers at New Path, are their brains fried like Bob's or are they just pretending? If they are just pretending, then why did Bob actually need to get brain damage?

Something strange is when Bob gives a list of his friends he'd like to see

"Mike and Laura and George and Eddie and Donna and-" (source)

Donna isn't in New Path, and in the movie he says Luckman and Barris too who aren't in it. Maybe he was referring to his friends in general and not just the one's in New Path?

By the way, I once learned about motion symbolism but since forgot it. For example moving up is happy, down is sad, far away from the viewer is loss, moving towards viewer is threatening. When Bob looks "forward in his mind", what does the direction forward symbolize?

1 Answer 1


Bob no longer has the mental tools to formulate plans or strategize the overthrow of government-subsidized biochemicoindustrial population-control system. But he may have a sliver of a memory of the pretty girl who promised to see him soon. And he just wants to give her the pretty flower.

By doing so (as we the audience can see), he may accomplish this feat. But if you thanked him later, he probably wouldn't understand what you were talking about.

He acts as an agent of fate or a deeper power of causation, God or love.

There's the curious moment when he's being interviewed by the black Policewoman where she zooms-in and tells him praeternaturally to collect the blue flower. I interpret that as retroactively imagined memory. Something that bloomed (if you'll pardon the pun) in the shattered ruin if his psyche. This would speak to an unconscious motivation that guides him. Even there, though, I believe that vital element has to be love, Freudian libido energy forming a cathexis; perhaps the only adaptive tool his brain retains.

There are no other undercover police at New Path. You can't get in with a working mind.

  • This is what I agree with but it seems to contradict the interpretation given here and by @Richard scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/45690/…
    – Celeritas
    Commented Feb 18, 2016 at 2:35
  • 1
    I might be reading-in a lot that isn't there. But it is a consistent theme in Dick's later works: the religion in DoAndroids.., The Divine Invasion, Palmer Eldritch, VALIS, that the universe itself has a plan that it is carrying out by means of the individuals it supports/contains. It may even go back to the importance of I Ching divination in The Man in the High Castle. That there is also something larger going on, and the larger picture is more hopeful. Commented Feb 18, 2016 at 3:22

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