The Builder

Paycheck and Other Classic Stories by Philip K. Dick
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First published in Amazing Dec 1953

In this quasi-retelling of the Biblical story of Noah a middle class suburban man begins constructing a boat in his backyard without any real understanding of why he is doing it. He spends more and more time away from his job, much to the frustration of his wife, and he endures the mockery of his neighbors who suspect he might be crazy. 

One of his neighbors points out that his boat has no sails or engine, something he hadn’t considered. Just as he is facing despair over wasting his time and energy building something so pointless it begins to rain. 

Cast of characters

  • Ernest Elwood – the titular builder
  • Liz – Elwood’s wife
  • Bob and Toddy – Elwood’s sons
  • Joe Hunt – Elwood’s neighbor
  • Jack Fredericks, Charlie, Ann Pike – Elwood’s co-workers