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The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

By Douglas Adams
 

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Summary
 
Chapter 1
  • Arthur Dent wakes up and realizes that his house is about to be leveled because of a road being built
  • We are introduced to Ford Prefect, an alien who was trapped on Earth while doing reserch for THGG
  • Arthur lays in front of the bulldozers to prevent them from leveling his house
  • Ford realizes Earth is about to be destroyed and wants to save Ford.  He takes him to a bar to prepare him. 

Chapters 2- 3

  • Ford and Arthur drink to loosen themselves up for the Intragalactic travel
  • Ford tells Arthur that he is a visitor from a planet by Betelguese
  • Arthur's house is knocked down by the bulldozers while he's is the bar
  • Ships approach Earth to destroy it

Chapters 4-5

  • We meet the president of galaxy--an interesting figure.  He has two heads and three arms and has served prison time.
  • Zaphod Beeblebrox throws a bomb at the opening ceremony for The Heart of Gold
  • Ford and Arthur hitchhike off of Earth and onto one of the Vogon ships that was blowing it up.  Vogons hate hitchhikers, so they are hiding in the servant's area.
  • Arthur puts a fish in his ear that translates alien languages.

Chapter 6-9

  • The Vogons realize that there are hitchhikers in the ship and come to get them.
  • The Vogon reads poetry to them as torture
  • Ford and Arthur are thrown into space where they will surely die
  • Ford and Arthur are rescued by a passing space ship

Chapters 10-11

  • Ford and Arthur have been rescued by a ship run by the Infinite Improbability Drive
  • This allows for super-fast travel and as a side-effect it casues improbable things to occur
  • Zaphod Beeblebox is on the Heart of Gold with a girl named Trillian
  • There is also a depressed robot on board the ship
  • It turns out the ship Zaphod has stolen is the same ship that rescued Ford and Arthur

Chapters 12-15

  • Ford and Arthur are brought to Zaphod by the depressed robot
  • It is revealed that Ford and Zaphod are cousins.  Also, Arthur met Zaphod before at an Earth party in London
  • It is revealed that the ship is headed for Magrathea a planet that was believed to exist only as a legend.
  • Magrathea was believed to have made planets. 

Chapters 16-18

  • The planet appears to be completely dead
  • Suddenly, there is a computer warning and then the planet shoots missiles at them
  • Arthur  presses the improbablity button and they avoid destruction when the missiles are turned into a bowl of petunias and a sperm whale
  • They land on Magrathea

Chapters 19-21

  • The whale has cracked open the surface of the planet
  • The group goes into the entrance and leaves Arthur to stand guard with the depressed robot
  • Zaphod reveals to the group that he has self-inflicted brain damage
  • Arthur decides to explore and he runs into an old man

Chapters 22-24

  • The old man asks Arthur to come with him
  • They take a ship into the center of the planet
  • The old man (Slartibartfast) tells Arthur that he used to design coastlines for planets
  • Arthur is told that Earth was an experiment run by mice
  • The people of Mygathrea have been awakened to create a new Earth for the mice.

Chapters 25-28

  • Arthur learns how Earth came to be created--the Earth is designed to house a 10 million-year-old experiment to discover what the question of life is.  They already know the anwserto life's great question--forty-two.

Chapters 29-31

  • Trillian, Ford, and Zaphod are captured and help captive by the mice
  • Zaphod talks some more about his brain damage.  He believes that the damaged portion of his brain contains confidential information
  • Arthur is also brought to the mice
  • All the spaceship passengers meet with the mice
  • The mice want Arthur's brain so they don't have to reproduce the Earth experiment.  Needless to say, Arthur does not want to part with his brain.

Chapter 32-35

  • Arthur, Trillian, Zaphod, and Ford escape
  • The mice decide to just make up a question
  • Cops begin shooting at them as they run away
  • The cops suddenly drop dead when their life support systems fail
  • They take Slartibart's aircar out of the center of the planet
  • When they get to the surface, Marvin the depressed robot reveals that he caused the cop's ship to commit suicide.  This is why the cops died.

Themes in THGG
 
One of the major themes of THGG is that of corruption and incompetence of authority.  This is seen throughout the novel.
  • When Arthur's house is going to be torn down, the bureaucracy keeps him from finding out until it is too late to protest
  • When the earth is going to be destroyed, a similar situation occurs.
  • Right after Earth is destroyed we are told that a new system of travel made it's destruction unneccessary.
  • We are told that the job of President of the Galaxy is to distract attention away from those who are really in power.  The current president is a showman who has spent time in jail.

Comprehension Questions
  1. What does Arthur see outside his window when he wakes up in the morning?
  2. The man who bulldozes Arthur's house is descended from whom?
  3. Ford Prefect disguises himself as what while on Earth?
  4. What is Ford's true purpose for being on Earth?
  5. What should every Galactic traveler have with them?
  6. Who, besides Arthur, does Ford tell that the world is ending?
  7. Who does Arthur convince to lie in the mud in front of Arthur's house?
  8. Who allows Arthur and Ford on board the Vogon ship?
  9. What do the Vogons read to torture people?
  10. Where does Arthur put a fish?

Vocabulary

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