I'm reading Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick. The following paragraph is decribing a woman who's just woken up all cranky and doesn't want to get up:

"I just want to sit here on the bed and stare at the floor." Her voice had become sharp with overtones of bleakness as her soul congealed and she ceased to move, as the instinctive, omnipresent film of great weight, of an almost absolute inertia, settled over her.

I'm confused about what "soul congealed" means here. The dictionary says "to congeal" means "to solidify or coagulate". But I don't understand how a person's soul can be solidified or coagulated. Does "soul congealed" mean that she's got low in mood? Can anbody explain the idea for me?


3 Answers 3


"Soul" likely refers to inner person, including feelings. So "her soul congealed" would mean that she gradually froze internally: she stopped thinking and feeling.


Congeal in this sense is often evokes the idea of blood, because it is often used to describe a fluid becoming semi-solid from cooling. As blood becomes more solid, it flows slower and slower, and it becomes more lifeless. Contrast that with hot blooded or passionate/easily excited or angered.

In this context, her soul, or what animates her, is slowly becoming cooler, more solid, and less active. She may not even have the energy to feel angry or sad. She's frozen under the weight of some feeling so heavy she can barely breathe.


I believe this is largely a question of artistic interpretation, of poetry. You correctly understand the word meaning of congealed. Perhaps some inquiry into the meaning and context of "soul" would be helpful.


  1. The spirit or essence of a person usually thought to consist of one's thoughts and personality...
  2. The spirit or essence of anything.  
  3. Life, energy, vigor.

Spirit also conveys the meaning of enthusiasm, energy, ardour.

From context we can tell the congealed soul rendered the person unmoving. Would a moving person's soul then be the opposite of congealed? The antonyms of congeal are to soften or liquify. Is a liquid soul more conducive to movement than a solid soul?

Matter tends to solidify as a process of cooling, as liquid grease produced from cooking meat congeals into solid fat. If a person's energy or enthusiasm cooled, would that render them motionless?

You might also inquire into how the author viewed the concept of the human soul, a complicated matter which he frequently concerned himself with. https://scifi.stackexchange.com/ perhaps?

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