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

Douglas Adams – Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1979) [Only the first book in the series]

Blog posts and presentations due: Thursday, November 8

  • Group 5a: Why is there no racism or discrimination among the “people” in this novel– or are the Vogons an exception?
  • Group 5b: Podcast: Why “42”?

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

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

  1. Hyejin Yoo

    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?

    In the book, ridiculous situations occur. People from a parliament try to destroy Arthur’s home. However, they even did not notice him the information or let him protest. And then Ford came and took Arthur to the bar, and 20 minutes later, Earth is attacked. These kinds of odd situations continued during the book. In addition, Arthur seems that he is always in the middle of a situation. However, he just believes his friends and let them lead him. He may look like a fairy normal man because he even cannot believe what is going on and he do not know how the world works.

    However, his friends and people around him know what is going on. So, they can be looked like strange because the world works that way. Therefore, They may be normal in that kind of the world. In addition, people except Trillian are all aliens from outer space. Even many countries in the world which are all in the earth have their own cultures and values. So, people from other countries sometimes cannot understand each other because they were raised in other cultures. Therefore, something normal in the outer space can be totally incomprehensible to us.

    Reply
  2. Heeran Kang

    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?

    Some people might say that it seems ridiculous that everything surrounded us happens under a kind of algorism, somehow connected to each other. In the novel, it is possible to think that almost every event that happens quite randomly actually might have been planned by the ship’s supercomputer. For instance, the phone number of a party where several characters happened to meet up once is the same as the probability of rescuing someone in a random place of the universe while flying. In fact, on the other hand, it is us who think that everything is connected in real life. This is maybe because, whether realized or not, we have the chain of events which affect us. We do not really notice how they are alike or related to one another when it happens, but later on, we suddenly see that it seems familiar to what we already have experienced.

    Thus, I think that the author tried to say that things that occur in our life are rather like a fate, not like coincidence. All of a sudden, our life makes us aware of everything in the environment, and we realize that things are meant to be like that. Just like Zaphod, Trillian, and Arthur, we at times happen to come across with someone that we have never expected to see at a random place. It is us who do not notice before, but at a certain point we are able to see that the events that seem to be randomly flow in our life are actually linked to each other, and towards a particular destination they are destined to go for a journey together. For Arthur and the others, they share a sort of destiny where they float the universe and try adventures that seem to be random, but have some kind of connections with them.

    Reply
  3. Yujin Chai

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

    When I first read the book, I had a hard time understanding what kind of book this is. I know the story certainly has the background of universe, but the unique settings of the characters and concepts made me confused. Because of that, still I cannot fully grasp the idea of the author. Meanwhile, however, I could found out some values which make me think seriously.

    The book tries to make the reader think about the meaning of life, which is happiness. Slartibartfast, the creator of the universe, gave up finding the absolute question because he wanted to be happy rather than being wise. Also, when Arthur was threatened by mice to tell the absolute questions in his head, Arthur spoke out diverse questions of life. And later he told them those questions never made him happy. What author wanted to tell to the readers is about the meaning of life specifically the value of happiness. Although the book did not focus on what Slartibartfast and how Arthur had mentioned about happiness or questions, it is clear enough for readers to understand the true value of it. They made readers think over not only happiness of themselves but also the meaning and the way of happiness.

    Reply
  4. Park Garam

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

    At first, looks like it has ridiculous and random stories. But inside, it gives some serious values and advices that helps readers actual life. It says that we are not as special as we think we are.

    At the beginning of the book, there are story about dolphins. In this book, they are more intelligent than the human think. They are very social and smart species. Unlike humans, they thanks to all fishes they hunt. Even they know that the earth will be destroyed soon while the human do not recognized that and just enjoy their ordinary life. Moreover, mice are the one that spent their life to conducting earth. Humans are just some parts of the earth they made for know the answer of life.

    Most people think we, human, are the one and only species that have ability to think rationally. But, in the vast universe, there can be aliens, two heads guy or talking mice. So through this book, we realize that we are infinitely small and helpless people in the scheme of things.

    Reply
    1. Yerim Kim

      I also agree that even though this book is described by author as a silly joke but it deals with some serious values and this makes the novel more unique and humorous. Everyone think the Earth that we are living today is the most significant place in the universe but this novel actually begins with a man who is struggling to keep his house from being destroyed but soon everything in the world disappears because of the destruction of the earth. At this situation only two human beings, Arthur Dent and Trillian, who comes out later in this story, are survived. It gave me a little shock that there is no more human beings in the universe and the earth is destroyed even though it is just a novel. In the vast universe, there could be the other species and we are very small and helpless people.

      Although this book is famous as a cutting satire on philosophy and religion it actually contains some quite insightful reflections on the human condition. It is mentioned in the later story that the answer of the meaning of life is ’42’ and the mice, the ruler of the universe, found out that earth is a long-term project which finally helps them to get the answer of the question. In this context author may want to show us the meaning of life is not a simple question that can be answered as a one words or sentence.

      Reply
  5. Yoo Jieun

    1. There is no racism or real discrimination against different species or life-forms in the novel. Why do you think this is so?
    For discrimination like racism to happen there must be some basic factors. Fist, there has to be more then one social group that has at least one thing in common. In racism it is race. Secondly, there has to be a dominant social group and undominant social group. However, inside the book there are too many races and too many planets that have different power balances that it is hard for a stable hierarchy. Last, one race has to feel impowering because of their race. But, in the novel many aliens show no such difficulty because they might move in a group but not with other alien species, if they don’t need to or they don’t want to.

    Reply
  6. Jong Hun, Kim

    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?

    When I researched about the novel, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, I found that many information said “Arthur Dent is not particularly clever or remarkable” But I don’t agree with that. I think Arthur has great adaptability in the new environment which is perfectly different from the Earth. If I were him, I would have been crazy in many reasons. For example, I lost my family and knew my best friend, Ford Perfect, is actually an alien who have lived in other planet. I must not have adapted the situation and environment. And in other series, he tried to find the meaning of 42 which Deep Thought said as the answer to life, the universe, and everything. So I think he is very clever and wise. Above all things, he is the only person who survived from the destruction of Earth. That would be enough to make him special.
    But if the author intended him to be a normal, dull person, he would expect the property of normal. I mean, if Arthur has a lot of talent in many ways, the concept which he is the only earthling must be covered by his great ability. So I think the author wanted to make him seem to be not special for emphasizing his survival.

    Reply
  7. Jeonghyeon, Ahn

    Who cares whether a man has two heads, or there is someone’s nose in his head?
    In this book, no one discriminate other species or life-forms with color of skins, someone’s appearance. Even though Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz looks ugly, no one blame(at least anyone don’t bring up the topic out of one’s mouth) and discriminate him because of that reason. To surprise at each diversity of life-forms, space is very large, and they know this well, and already got used to it. No matter how large group they make, they are nothing but dust in this vast universe. Universe is too vast and diverse to make a group and discriminate other group.
    Mankind discriminate others in their narrow and narrow world. They hate others because they have different skin colors, or different gender, even they looks ugly. They don’t like differences. In this book, or universe, mankind is a big frog in a small pond. In the small pond described as “Mostly Harmless” they fight and rank themselves. In my opinion, author wanted to say it is very silly in light of the vast universe.
    Who cares? Only human cares.

    Reply
    1. Jeonghyeon, Ahn

      (This is my discussion about Question 3 : There is no racism or real discrimination against different species or life-forms in the novel. Why do you think this is so? (I forgot to write this in front of my writing… Sorry!)

      Reply
  8. Dong Jun, Jang

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

    In Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, we can figure out how humans are weak. The Earth is just harmless or mostly harmless thing. What we studied actively to mice was actually studied by mice. Even though Arthur Dent is the only human who know the meaning of 42(in fact, it is meaningless too), human and earth was so small that space doesn’t care about it. I didn’t read all of the series of Douglas Adams’s, so I can’t assure that there is an intention to show how weak we, human being is.
    In my opinion, this book shows humans are silly. With its world view, many values that human usually missed or thought that not important are shown all around the space. Actually, Heart of Gold is not moving like human thought. It’s main moving source and power is an improbability generator. That was not human’s value. I think if Douglas Adams had an idea with this value, he might want to tell us humans are silly. When we thought awful mind to these space’s perspectives of world, that may prove Douglas Adams thought. “You are silly Human!”

    Reply
  9. Jieun Chun

    What joke do you think the novel makes about governments, or the way organizations are run?

    While reading the guide for hitchhikers, I saw some satirical expressions about the government and politics in the book. The first one is the characteristics of Vogons. Vogon is an alien race that has bureaucratic blood flowing under their veins. So all galactic bureaucracy is run by them. But they are so obsessed with laws and bureaucracy on everything they run that they sometimes make things go inflexible. They don’t care and don’t know much about what they’re doing, like they destroyed Earth without a concern. They just follow the law and follow all the complicated and unnecessary procedures and forms. I thought these behaviors are very ineffective and need to be changed. Also, I thought that the writer of this book might intended this to satirize the negative aspects of modern bureaucracy. The second one is about Zaphod. Zaphod is the President of Galaxy, but in fact he almost has no power at all. And it seems like that he became a president because he looked stupid and likes to show off himself to the public. (Of course he’s not really stupid, he just pretends to be.) Anyway, he is just a figurehead and his role is distracting people’s attention from what is really important and where real power is. This setting also seem to satirize the way the governments and organizations work.

    Reply
  10. Kyungho Lee

    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?

    I think it is true. Consider arthur as an anchor. This is one of the tropes that you can see it alot in pop culture. Typically, where the story has a band or party of characters and often in a fantasy of sci-fi settings, there is always that ‘generic’ protagonist that who happens to be human with somewhat muted character and happens to be holding the rest of the character together. In a wacky world that has been presented in the novel, convincing all the readers to relate to some new alien can be tricky, on the other hand with humanity wiped out already and being the only human left, the audience has something to relate to at least. Even if they do not necessarily like him or her, they still provide a sense of normalcy that doesn’t throw off the readers too much. And that’s the exact purpose of having Arthur portrayed in such bland manner and it makes the immersion easier for the audience.

    Reply
  11. Han-sol, Lee

    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?
    I agree that Arthur Dent is quite a common, dull man related to other characters for several reasons. Firstly, the writer gives him that personality as it is easy to make a comic scene. As the concept of the book is comedy, although its genre is sf, he need a dull and normal character which is in contrast to strange characters. Because Arthur is normal, the strange situations and characters are stressed. If there is a just strange man without a common man who are embarrassed, the funny would be lost. Also, the dullness itself also good at making funny scene. Everybody including readers know what is happening but Arthur. So, funny situations occur. For example, he goes to the bar with Ford after he hear that the worker whose job is breaking Artur’s house is going to lie on the mud instead of Arthur in front of the Bulldozer to protect the Bulldozer from breaking the house. It doesn’t make sense but his stupid makes that scene.
    Secondly, he need to be normal and little stupid to get sympathy from readers. The readers who read this book is most regular people, so the he needed to be common. Thirdly, in his surroundings he cannot help being stupid and dull. Earth is broken, he lost his hometown, alien exist, it is his friend and there is so many lethal dangers. Too many changes without any preparation. In this situation, no one can be smart..

    Reply
  12. Chaehwa Song

    6. At several times Trillian feels sorry for Arthur and defends him or protects him. Why do you think she does this?
    It is obvious that Arthur loved Trillian, but it is confusing that Trillian loved Arthur or not. At the first time when they meet at the party, Trillian had interest to Arthur. But Arthur failed with her test although he really liked her. She left him and leave with a man who could take her to the unknown world. When she met Arthur again and remembered that he showed goodwill and liked her at the past, so she felt sorry for him. In addition, the reason that she kept defends or protect him was not only she felt sorry for him but also, he was human as like her. Arthur was only human whom she met at the universe for a long time during the traveling. So, I think he could only understand her and empathized about small things that she really missed from the Earth, such as a drinking tea. But it is hard to say that she loved him because they met just one time and had no time to know about each other unless they met at the universe again. In my opinion, the most big reason that Trillian defends him was that Arthur was human like her, I believe.

    Reply
  13. lee ji won

    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?

    In the book, Arthur’s friend described as un normal people, who is doing a un normal things that normal people will not do and his friend Ford was one of them. When Ford told him the earth will be destroyed, Arthur seems to be accept Ford’s word, while others were pretending to listen his word. Before the disappearance of the earth, they hitchhiked the bogarian spaceship. when he opened eyes in the new place, he didn’t seem to surprised or panic. He seems to stable and peaceful. And when he heard the earth was disappeared, he spoke in clam tone, “sure.” When he thought about his family had disappeared with the earth, he can’t feel the feeling.
    From those aspects, Arthur’s dull emotion seems to be un-human being. Every human being have emotions like, anger, sad. However, unlike other people (we call it normal people), he didn’t show much emotions. This alienated senses made Arthur Dent un normal person. Since, the earth has disappeared, he became a normal after he become a hitchhiker. Not just, he become a universal hitchhiker, he was surrounded by strange peoples, just like him that made Arthur Dent like normal person.

    Reply
  14. lee ji won

    Q : 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?

    In the book, Arthur’s friend described as un normal people, who is doing a un normal things that normal people will not do and his friend Ford was one of them. When Ford told him the earth will be destroyed, Arthur seems to be accept Ford’s word, while others were pretending to listen his word. Before the disappearance of the earth, they hitchhiked the bogarian spaceship. when he opened eyes in the new place, he didn’t seem to surprised or panic. He seems to stable and peaceful. And when he heard the earth was disappeared, he spoke in clam tone, “sure.” When he thought about his family had disappeared with the earth, he can’t feel the feeling.
    From those aspects, Arthur’s dull emotion seems to be un-human being. Every human being have emotions like, anger, sad. However, unlike other people (we call it normal people), he didn’t show much emotions. This alienated senses made Arthur Dent un normal person. Since, the earth has disappeared, he became a normal after he become a hitchhiker. Not just, he become a universal hitchhiker, he was surrounded by strange peoples, just like him that made Arthur Dent like a normal person.

    Reply

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