British Soc & Lit 2 – Blog Post 3 (Hitchhiker’s Guide)

Douglas Adams – Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1979)

Blog posts and presentations due: Thursday, November 9

  • Group 5:  Are there any meanings in the characters’ actions and words, which seem just random and absurd?
  • Group 6: Are there moral lessons that the author intends to teach to readers? What are they?

Write a post here of about 200 words discussing one of these questions; or make your post a reply to someone else’s post.

Your presentation must present an opinion or argument; it cannot just summarize the story. You must e-mail or speak to me before your presentation to have it approved.

  1. The book is silly, but are there any values that are taken seriously in it? What are they?
  2. There are few actual family or life-long relationships in the novel. What does the book say about family, or friendship?
  3. There is no racism or real discrimination against different species or life-forms in the novel. Why do you think this is so?
  4. Is it possible that the major events in the story aren’t random, but are somehow planned by the ship’s supercomputer? What do you think?
  5. Arthur Dent is a fairly normal, dull person in comparison to the strange people around him. Is this true? If so, why would the author write him this way?
  6. At several times Trillian feels sorry for Arthur and defends him or protects him. Why do you think she does this?
  7. What joke do you think the novel makes about governments, or the way organizations are run?
  8. There are hints in the book that Slartibartfast helps Arthur and the others to escape the mice and the police. Do you agree? Why might Slartibartfast do this?
  9. Does the book mean anything, or is it just fun? What messages does it try to teach?
  10. Choose another topic or theme in the book you feel is important. Why is it important?

12 thoughts on “British Soc & Lit 2 – Blog Post 3 (Hitchhiker’s Guide)

  1. Kim Ji Yeon

    #1. The book is silly, but are there any values that are taken as seriously in it? What are they?

    I think there aren’t elements taken as seriously generally, but the question people requiring Deep Thought to answer(especially, what is life?) had to be treated as little bit seriously. Because anyone doesn’t tell me about what is life, and I want to know what is life sometimes. So when people asked Deep Thought to answer the question, I wondered, too. Although Deep Thought said that the answer is 42, I thought that the life is shaping up. If one person thinks that he is unhappy, the unhappy life itself is just his life. In contrast, if one person thinks that he is happy, the happy life itself is just his life. If one person wants to live happily, because he thinks his life is unhappy, the only way is to make his life happily through some ways. Like this, I thought that life depends on how we think about our life and how we make our life.

  2. Na, JongIn

    1. The book is silly, but are there any values that are taken seriously in it? What are they?

    First, It make readers think ‘Earth’ in different way. For ordinary people Earth is just the ‘Earth’. It means we just live in each country where we are born or work, and human beings are living on Earth because we are the most ‘intelligent’ species in the Earth. However, in this book mice are the controller of the Earth, and they even made the Earth. It is ridiculous assumption, but it also gives us another view about the Earth. There is no reason that human beings are the master of Earth, we are also just another creature that live for a short time in this planet.
    Second, ‘42’ says we actually do not try to get an idea “what life is”. Nearly at the end of this book, mice are talking about how to explain ‘what 42 means’ to people(not human beings) who is waiting for the answer. However, their answers are silly such as “We have many ways to live like ‘42’”. I think it shows that we try to find out what life is and how to live apparently, but actually we do not think about it well. We should do many things to find out what life is, but we do not do it, and just waiting for it as answer comes to our mind. Therefore, those talks, and thought show us our laziness about getting the answer.

  3. Choi Jinyeong

    I think this book was just written for fun, but I feel sorry that the book wasn’t fun to me. When I saw the title, I thought this book would be little fun even though I am not a fan of sci-fi and science based stuff. Sadly I didn’t really feel anything or get any lesson while I was reading the whole story. It was absolutely hard to finish reading. After Ford appears and the Earth is destroyed, it’s getting harder to get details about the universe and scientific things. These details may not be important to understand basic outline, but such matters made me bored to read this book. When I almost finished reading this book, I thought this book would be getting more fun in next episode. However, I ended up deciding not to read anymore because it brings me headache.
    I considered several things that look containing something special. If this story might have some philosophical issues to remind readers of what is life, there should be more hints to persuade readers. Some elements are so weird that some readers can’t understand what is going on. For example, it is really ridiculous that mice are vastly hyperintelligent and that the answer to the great question of life, the universe and everything is 42. The book might rather have satire on social issues at that time. If so, I may not be clever enough to understand. I hope that the author may have gotten an idea of this story accidentally and just wrote it regardless of whether the story is absurd or plausible. If this book means something, I will feel bad because I can’t understand what he intended to convey. Consequently, it was rather written for fun, not meaning anything.

  4. Sujung Ki

    I think the novel is making jokes about governments which try to fool citizens for its sake. We can notice this from two scenes. First, at the beginning of the novel, Arthur noticed that his house would be demolished at the day it was scheduled to be. Considering the purpose of removing his house is just to build bypass, I think they deliberately posted the plans at the place where nobody couldn’t check so that they can build the bypass without protest. I think Mr. L. Prosser represented a politician who works for his own profit because he wanted bypass for his pub and cottage. And the bypass doesn’t do anything good to Arthur representing a citizen. So it’s like politicians who keep making excuses for the bill or legislation which is only good for politicians themselves and justifying their doings. Secondly, considering that the government is making Zaphod president because he can attract citizens’ attraction, it is like the reality where the government makes citizens impossible to notice what the politicians are doing and who really has power. By making some events irrelevant to politics, they can do whatever they want with covering the citizen’s eyes and the author might want to make jokes about this.

  5. Innae Chang

    5. Aruthur Dent is a fairly normal,dull person in comparison to the strange people around him. Is this true? If so, why would the author write him this way?

    Aruthur Dent, the last Earthman in the universe, is described as somewhat stupid and dull. He is constantly nervous and frightened about certain things and wail about. However, the actions that he shows is quite reasonable when we are in his shoes. Can you act normal and calm when the planet you thought is was everythig of your world is suddenly blown up, and you hear stories that the Earth was just a place to experiment the answer for 42 and it was run by mice? I guess the author wanted to point out the characteristics of human being; to have sense of superiorty that human dominates Earth and there is no living being that is smarter than mankind. With having this kind of idea, the facts that Arthur experienced will be just as surprising that Arthur felt.
    Also, the characteristics of Arthur makes other characters more absurd or irrational, and makes Arthur more humane and feel sympathy toward him. After all, I like Arthur. His poor positions make me laugh and feel some sense in this crazy world the writer has created.

  6. Minji Kim

    1. The book is silly, but are there any values that are taken seriously in it? What are they?

    This book seems all random and absurd, but there are actually many points which author makes readers to think. For me, GPP(Genuine personal personalities) was interesting. At first I haven’t thought about it deeply but at the moment when Zapod threatened Eddie saying he will going to turn off his system I felt sympathy and cruelty. Eddie is also a robot with GPP so he knows about end of the life. It made me think of if computer can think and feel like a human, is there a difference between turning of the computer and murdering? We got to think about whether we have these right in us. Not only turning the system down, but also just making a machine with GPP in it, is a violation toward entire living creature’s dignity. But no one in this book feels it is a wrong thing. Characters in this novel destroys life so easily. For example, destruction of earth, throwing Arthur/Ford into the space, and Zaphod saying he will turn off Eddies system. I also think writer putted death in such an easy way on purpose to make us think about life more deeply and critically.

  7. JongHoon Park

    8. There are hints in the book that Slartibartfast helps Arthur and the others to escape the mice and the police. Do you agree? Why might Slartibartfast do this?

    I agree with that Slartibartfast helps Arthur and the others to escape the mice and the police. I think that there are two main reasons why Slartibartfast helps them. First of all, Slartibartfast seems to be fond of Arthur. From the time they first met each other, Slartibartfast has always tried to answer to Arthur’s questions and also made explanations about everything Arthur was not familiar with. I think that Arthur, who is a human, was not alone because Slartibartfast has helped him and become a friend of him although he was an alien.
    Next reason is that Slartibartfast is treated poorly by the mice. He obviously works hard and he is a diligent man. However, his supervisors just took advantage of him and when the goal was achieved, they abandoned him without any hesitation. So there is no reason for him to keep faithful to the mice. It would be better to help his real friend, Arthur, rather than to keep being ignored by them. To sum up, the relationship between Slartibartfast and Arthur, or the mice made Slartibartfast choose his side.

  8. hyeon gyeong kim

    9. Does the book mean anything, or is it just fun? What messages does it try to teach?

    Book itself is funny. but i couldn’t really get some jokes, probably because i’m not British or native English speaker. while reading this book, i couldn’t stop giggling though. i think the characters are quite silly and that makes the readers laugh. But i don’t think the book conveys something important. it just keeps pretending to be weighty, mentioning about life or describing social problems like bureaucracy, depression in the story. The book’s main story is a kind of adventure of finding what life means, but it doesn’t tell us the answer exactly to the end. readers can think about life after reading the book, but the answer 42 is so silly and ridiculous so they’ll just quit finding what real life is. The answer 42 makes me lose my motive to find the answer. But if the book just intended its readers laugh, i think it succeed.

  9. Jihyun Lee

    1. The book is silly, but are there any values that are taken seriously in it? What are they?

    I think this book is not that silly. Because it contains many lesson. First, the author satirizes politicians and governments with Zaphod, the Vogon and the local council workers. Second, the author warns us the problem of careless talk which can make huge effect in both good and bad way later. In addition to these things, the book makes us think about our priceless, unique Earth too. And it gives us a most valuable question: How should we live? Deep thought answered to the question of the life, the universe and everything with little silly answer, 42. But 42 is a just random number and there is no ultimate answer to life. So it’s our own things to find the real answer of those questions. Because the answer to each person’s life is all dependent on how we live every day, so I think we should try our best and live every day hard and positively. When I first read this story, I couldn’t feel anything, but now I became the lover of this book. And if there is some trouble on my life, I think I will read this book with pleasure to find a solution of my life.

  10. Kim Hyo Jin

    1. The book is silly, but are there any values that are taken seriously in it? What are they?

    In the story, the philosophical answer of the Life, Universe and Everything is regarded as important thing. There characters try to find the answer. There are two ways of it.
    First, the Earth is designed for experiment to find the answer of the Life, Universe and Everything. The mice who are superior to people want to know that. They operate the earth by their plan. So, the earth is a laboratory planet. But, the earth becomes useless because the Vogons destroyed the earth.
    Second, the Deep thought is used as a finding the answer. The scholars want to know the answer. But, the Deep thought says the answer is 42. It does not mean anything. I think ‘42’ just depends on individual mind. So, the mean of 42 can be changed by each person’s thought.
    These efforts look meaningless. There is no practical answer. But, they do a lot of efforts to find it. I think Adams want to tell that no matter how the technology advanced, the philosophical and humanity factor is important. He just wants to describe the process of finding the answer rather than the accurate answer. This story is science fiction novel, and there are lots of advanced technology that is described in the story. All of the technologies are used as means to find philosophical answer. So, it means that humanity exist strongly in the development of technology.

  11. Sang yun Kim

    10. Choose another topic or theme in the book you feel is important. Why is it important?

    This book’s genre is sci-fi. Sci-fi novels contain very many scientific imaginations. Nowadays, I think some ideas are becoming true, and other ideas will come true, so people need to consider about new technology in sci-fi books.
    In this point, I think the Babel fish is important topic to us. Communication technology is advancing now. Maybe, it is soon that a language barrier is removed by the technology, like Babel fish. As we know, the Babel fish successes in removing language barrier, but it draws universal serious conflicts. What if we have a perfect communication? Can we talk with others without conflicts?
    I think that some language barriers works as a way to respect and understand each other’s differences, so we try our best to say concisely and don’t make any misunderstanding when we use another language.
    Like this way, we can think about future and upcoming technology in present aspect. This is why sci-fi books are popular and meaningful.

  12. Kim Seong Yun

    1. The book is silly, but are there any values that are taken seriously in it? What are they?

    When I first read this book, I was pretty impressed that how these creative things were out from the human’s brain. However, when I read it twice I could see some valuable things in this book. First thing is that human is nothing. The story goes on through the space not earth, earth was gone at the first of the story. As the story goes on, we could know that Arthur is just a small thing in the Galaxy. The aliens and mice are the better species than us. Second, the satire is shown in this book. The Imperial Galactic President, Zaphod, is silly president as the silly book. The president’s power in this galaxy is nothing, it is just the superficial name not the power. I think the book shows how silly the president is making us know that what should the president do through satire. Third, the technology and machine. In the book, there are some interesting machines and things that seem maybe we will find later in the earth. For example, the babel fish that can translates languages, the robot Marvin that has personality and the machine that has super intelligent. I think those things are thinkable things for our future technology.

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