The Hanging Stranger by Philip Dick

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The Hanging Stranger

The Hanging Stranger is a story created by Philip Dick that was published in 1953 by the science fiction adventure. The story revolves around Ed Loyce, the owner of a television sales store (Dick, 2015).

Loyce observed a man hanging from a lamppost while rebuilding the foundation of his basement. He was terrified and horrified, so he summoned people from the store, but no one cared or was moved to observe the scene except him. The novel portrays a strong topic of the unpleasant and sometimes painful consequences that can arise when an individual does not obey the laws of society. Of the three competing stories, The Hanging Stranger is definitely more relevant to this theme as substantiated by Loyce first trying to escape the rules and then having to deal with the negative aftermath of losing his family. The resulting loss of his life is the ultimate interpretation of a violent consequence.

In the story, Loyce emerges from repairing the foundation of his basement, goes into town, and notices a man hanging on a nearby lamppost (Dick, 2015). After alerting friends and other nearby citizens of the hanging man and receiving less than concerned responses, Loyce eventually realizes that his town is being controlled by aliens who have apparently overtaken all of the residents minds as well. After evading capture by the alien police in human form, Loyce manages to get home where he realizes that his wife and two sons are victims of the aliens mind control as well. Unfortunately, Loyce ends up killing his own son after the boy reverts to alien form and attempts to attack him (Dick, 2015). Loyce then flees to the next town where he ultimately meets his demise as a result of not only letting his guard down too soon, but not conforming to society rules as well.

Loyce as the Offender

Loyce is seen as the offender while in the bus since tries to convince people about how things are not going well in the town. Everybody in the bus is less concerned with him and saw as if he was insane. "There was a slender man in the bus with small mustache and dark who was studying and watching Loyce while the elderly man stared" (Dick, 2015). After escaping through the emergency door, the two men follow him to his house making him to run away from the town by foot. The escape depicts how a person who goes against the law is repelled from the society. The two men in the bus chased Ed because he was confused and saw how bad things were in the town, but he was the only one observing the wrong part.

The Man Hanging

The man hanging was an outsider and the body must have been put there otherwise, the administration could have reacted. It is not easy to be hanged in the town without any reason. The guy hanged must have gone against the rule of the town which made him to face the wrath of law. Besides, people in the town did not see anything wrong with the hanged person since they believed he was put there for reason (Dick, 2015). "When Loyce talked to his workers regarding the horrific discover, Fergusson stresses that there was a good reason for the hanging body to be there may be due to some form of public service announcement" (Dick, 2017). Also, Jack Potter confessed to having seen the body before but was confused by Ed's thought that there was something wrong.

The Conflict and Symbolism

The conflict regarding the hanging person and the alien are symbols of the narration associating to the theme of consequences of not following the rules. Utilizing communism to enhance manifestations and power of an individual's life offers the insight how Loyce is in a sense oblivious to the surrounding and the aims of people in the higher power (Dick, 2015). However, Loyce starts to discover when he observes creatures flying towards the government building (Dick, 2015). The scenario is similar to the current situation in the world since when a person recognizes his mistakes when he or she gets into jail. The majority of people seem to assume that these revulsions are a usual part of living. As residents of Pikesville point out that Ed must be either sick or drunk, it suggests that those that go against the rules from the historical perspective are abnormal (Dick, 2015). However, it is only the current culture that did away with the perception although we sustain executions and prisons.

Loyce at one point while trying to avoid the police noticed that the creatures were flying into the city hall structure which reinforces the theme of the narration (Dick, 2015). The scenario symbolizes how there negative aftermath when you go against the rules of the nation. The city hall and police station indicates that the authority is always ready to enforce law and bring the offender to the bar. Individuals going homes from work with quite ordinary faces sat quietly jiggling with the Bus's motion, but no one paid attention to Joyce which illustrates how one is seen insane when going against the government (Dick, 2015).


In counterargument, not following the rules is not followed by wrong results but it is a demonstration of realizing the wrong parts of administration. Also, the story illustrates how controlled people do not see the mistake of law and cannot confront them particularly on the current capitalism. By escaping the police and aliens indicate that going against the rule require finding other means of truth (Dick, 2015). Authorities will not find the oppressing rules being bad as it can be witnessed by the commissioner who states that Loyce was an example of individual who do not need to be controlled. Sometimes going against the rule is ways of making people realize that rules are forms of dictatorship by the government.


In conclusion, if an individual does not follow the rules of the society, there can be negative outcomes. Loyce is faced with various negative after-effects which include killing his son as well as escaping from the town. Going against the rules of the society makes one to be isolated from his or her family by being sent to the prison or going to exile. Besides, the government is always there to protect the law of the society as well as to ensure that wrong doers do not influence other innocent individuals. It is better to remain obedient and to follow the rules of the society to avoid being repelled or facing negative superventions.


Dick, P. K. (2015). The hanging stranger. Lanham: Start Publishing LLC.

Dick, P. K. (2017, January 29). The Hanging Stranger. Retrieved from

March 23, 2023



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