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

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

PowerPoints on Postwar EnglandBritish HumorGeek Culture

Blog posts and presentations due: Monday, November 11

  • Group 6: The meaning(s) of “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. Why 42? Why doesn’t the supercomputer know how to explain what 42 means? Why is this important?
  7. At several times Trillian feels sorry for Arthur and defends him or protects him. Why do you think she does this?
  8. What joke do you think the novel makes about governments, or the way organizations are run?
  9. 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?
  10. Choose another topic or theme in the book you feel is important.

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

  1. YU SIEUN

    9.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 that Slartibartfast helps Arthur and the others to escape the mice and the police. Because he left his aircar for them and he made them to drive it by leaving a message “This is probably the best button to press.” By using his car they can get to the Heart of Gold again.
    I don’t think Slartibarfast helped them because he liked earth man and the others. I just think he was very angry about the mice’s treatment to him. They said they don’t need the earth substitute and ignored glacier that he thinks the work of art. So he seems to have helped them to escape or play a trick to the mice.

    Reply
  2. Seo hyo won

    There is no racism or real discrimination against different species or life-forms in the novel. Why do you think this is so?
    Arthur and Ford are different species. However they don’t take issue with it and judge right or wrong about the difference. Likewise, Zaphod has two heads and three arms, but no one thinks he is strange. Even if they look different, the difference is not a barrier and everyone can be friends in this novel. Indeed, there is equality in the book that has not been realized in reality.

    Reply
  3. Ithida Saravitee

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

    The fact that Zaphod Beeblebrox was chosen to be a president of the Galactic Government has sent astonishment throughout the universe. His personality said to be “clever, imaginative, irresponsible, untrustworthy, extrovert, nothing you couldn’t have guessed” which can prove that he has nothing worthy to be a president. Nevertheless, he was chosen to be the president because the role of president is this just a nonentity, who holds very little power.
    It seems like Douglas Adams tries to make a joke and insult the government in the real world through his novel by saying “The president in particular is very much a figurehead – he wields no real power whatsoever… he is required to display are not those of leadership but those of finely judged outrage”. Therefore, Zaphod Beeblebrox’s responsibility is not controlling the power but to draw attention away from a true ruler. Zaphod is the best person to confront when something bad happening while the real authority plans and organizes things behind.

    Reply
  4. Kang Rok Lee

    I am going to talk about the question 6. In the book, the super computer ‘Deep thought’ said the answer to the great question of life, the universe, and everything. And the answer was “Forty-two.” I think there are no semantic meanings for this answer. Because, the question was basically wrong and was of very wide range. So, the ‘Deep thought could not explain the meaning of Forty-two. People does not understand this answer and ask question again. Therefore, the super computer ‘Deep thought’ makes a new super computer, named ‘Earth’. It means The Earth, which we are living in is a kind of computer programming. I think it means that, people are concern about the life and find out the ultimate answer through the life. For these reasons, the super computer can’t answer the question. Because, people should experience and feel the life in person. Then, we can get to know the great question of life, the universe and everything. The new super computer’s name was “Earth”, which are provided by the “Deep thought”. It involves that real answer can be found at earth. The fact that the earth was a king of computer programming was fresh reversal to many readers, including me.

    Reply
  5. WooJin Lee

    2. There are few actual family or life-long relationships in the novel. What does the book say about family, or friendship?

    In fact, the book does not reveal the real family or general friendship. Even Arthur hasn’t mention about his family, and also his only friend mentioned is Ford Prefect. And even this friendship is strange(not normal) because this began when Arthur saw Ford greet the car on the street and saved him to have been hit by the car. This is not normal circumstances friendship begins. Ford and Japhod are distant relatives, but they differ in appearance, which makes it difficult to say they are relatives in the eyes of the ‘Earthman.’ (Japod has two heads and three arms) So what I think is that the book(the author) doesn’t limit the form of relationship. It is not just the general case that comes to mind when we think about family or friendship, but rather a less common form of family or friendship, as shown in this book, is included in the category of relationship. In other words, I don’t know what the rest of the book will be like, but in this book, it seems that the relationship between people like friendship is not important. In the first place, there was no mention of ‘general’ family or life-long relationship in the main character, and when the earth exploded with the beginning of the novel, the whole things about all the family or life-long relationships he might have were disappeared. I think Douglas Adams might have tried to say the meaninglessness of relationships through the book that has few actual family or life-long relationship and the situation the earth explodes and all the family or life-long relationship forms disappears.

    Reply
  6. Jinsupa Rojyaroon

    Why 42? Why doesn’t the supercomputer know how to explain what 42 means? Why is this important?

    42 is the answer of ultimate question of life universe and everything when the supercomputer answer the question that it is 42 its make us think back to the question again that how it connects and why have to be 42 in my opinion 42 don’t have any meaning because we can’t understand what it means as same as when someone talking the meaning of life universe and everything with you . The question of life universe and everything doesn’t have the exact answer that everyone can agree. The answer is up to each person how they are looking at life universe and everything and what they are looking for. The answer that the supercomputer gives us in the novel is very strong to think back again not only to find the answer but to find the question for yourself. In my opinion Deep Thought already answer this question by using his own vision but somehow he also offer to design the biological computer call earth its like and exchange the vision of the question and answer and this very fun if we look back to ourself we always ask ourself that what is life and if we talk to another person someone will give you a similar answer but some will be totally different so in conclusion the answer of life universe and everything is 42.

    Reply
  7. Jin Jun Hyeak

    6.Why 42? Why doesn’t the supercomputer know how to explain what 42 means? Why is this important?

    I think 42 is related to Earth. The concept of time between universe and earth is different. There are minute, hour, day, week, and etc… on earth. From here i found relationship between 42 and a day. One day is 24 ours and flip 24 over is 42. As simple as that, the super computer would know it definitely. But super computer doesn’t know. Then why it doesn’t know?
    I think it’s because of the question ” of life, the universe and everything.” if it about universe, supercomputer would know it. But life is different. Every life depends on individual. So know of life, the universe and everything is impossible. It’s like the day is 42 hours instead of 24 hours. It is kind of probability. That’s why it is important. Survival probability of Arthur and Ford is converge to 0. But it could happen and super computer might control it. Otherwise, 42 has no probability. It is 0. So it is important because super computer can not control it and doesn’t know the answer.

    Reply
  8. Kwon Yae Hun

    6. Why 42? Why doesn’t the supercomputer know how to explain what 42 means? Why is this important?
    I found that the author said that the choice of the number was a joke. I also think the number is meaningless. Deep Thought judged that the answer he had derived was difficult for humans to understand right away or that humans would accept his answer similarly to what other philosophers had said. That is why he gave number that humans did not understand and why I think the number is meaningless. It didn’t matter if Deep Thought told you any number, because humans couldn’t understand it.
    So Deep Thought planned to create the Earth, a program that could explain his answers well, and it is speculated that it took a long time to program the Earth. Deep Thought would have thought that the Earth was a biomedical computer similar to humans unlike him, so he could prove his answers and give them answers in languages that humans can understand.
    Although Deep Thought couldn’t give us a understandable answer, the answer is important because it shows us computers have been able to answer philosophical questions.

    Reply
  9. Seong Jae Hyeok

    6. Why 42? Why doesn’t the supercomputer know how to explain what 42 means? Why is this important?

    In conclusion, 42 has no meaning. That’s the wrong answer. The answer to the question about life, the universe, and everything was 42. And when the answer that I’ve been waiting for so long came out of 42 we didn’t know what it meant.
    The computer, “deep thinking,” is not the ultimate question, so the answer is wrong. It’s either too wide of the question or it’s wrong. So people asked me again what the ultimate question about life, the universe, and everything was, but I didn’t know what I was thinking. So it’s the Earth that deep thought has created to figure out what that question is. And when we find out what the ultimate question is on Earth, we ask it to deep thought, and we try to get the answer.

    Reply
  10. Hong Yuan

    8.What joke do you think the novel makes about governments, or the way organizations are run?
    I think the novel is joking that governments are being bureaucratic and inefficient. Sometimes they conduct their decisions without informing citizens. As we can see from the novel, the bulldozer has already arrived in front of Arthur’s house and they are going to knock down his house. But Arthur wouldn’t have known anything about this if he had not checked the documents on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sigh on the door saying be aware of the leopard. How sarcastic this is!Also when Arthur is asking why do they have to knock down his house to build a bypass, Mr. Professor can’t give a reasonable explanation, saying a bypass is a bypass. If a government can’t convince people, how can we trust the governments? It is very common in the real world, governments do demolish houses if they want to build a business center or a new bypass. And even if the residents are strongly against the proposal, the houses may get demolished anyway. So this scene that Arthur is shouting and fighting for his house is somehow funny but realistic.

    Make up for Lord of the flies
    What is the importance of Piggy’s glasses in the novel? What does it/he symbolize or mean to the characters, the story, or its messages?
    I think Piggy’s glasses symbolize wisdom and the chance to stay civilized. Since Piggy can’t see without his glasses, it is significant in the story. Not only does Piggy need it, the other children also need it to set on fire. And fire symbolizes civilization. During the story, the conflict between Jack and Ralph(Piggy) is getting more and more serious, and one piece of Piggy’s glasses was broken. It is a turning point, Piggy lost half of his sight, and he and Ralph became weaker than Jack. Since Ralph became more dependent on Piggy in the end, the damage of his glasses really makes their situation worse. In the end of the story Piggy had no glasses at all and could see nothing, so he hid behind the rock and was killed by Roger. At this point, Ralph lost his wisdom and failed to make others stay civilized.

    Make up for Pygmalion
    Do you think that Higgins and Eliza should have married? Why or why not?
    I think Higgins and Eliza should not have married. Because I don’t think they have a healthy relationship. First of all, Higgins is not in love with Eliza, he just takes her back to teach her about linguistic, and it is for the bet. Even when Eliza is clean and pretty, he takes no notice of her. No matter how appealing Eliza can be to men, Higgins is not one of them. He may stay single till the end of his life. For me, they are more like a father and daughter. We can see that Eliza doesn’t have much love and care from her own father, even she has any feeling for Higgins, I believe it’s just that she wants some warmth from this elder man. Also, they have so much differences that they keep fighting with each other.(Though they’re kind of enjoying this kind of mode that they get along with each other.) Although at last they make peace with each other and live together after Eliza married to Freddy, there is not such thing as romance between Eliza and Higgins. If they don’t have a romantic atmosphere, why should have they married?

    Reply
  11. Yena Lee

    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?

    Arthur Dent is the protagonist of the novel. Comparing him to the people around, he seems fairly normal than others. In the book, he says, “A cup of tea would restore my normality.” He seems to know what normality is. I have two reasons why the author writes him in this way.
    The first reason is to cause sympathy. We know that Arthur is a human being as we are. (Of course, Trillian is also a human being, but She may be assimilated to the new culture and environment.) It leads us to feel the same way since we share the same value. So, we have a sense of fellowship. The other members might be normal in their way, but we do not know if it’s normal since (I think) the standard of normality might be pretty different.
    The other is to make the protagonist reliable one to readers by taking advantage of the point of view. This book wasn’t written in the point of Arthur’s view, but in the point of third person omniscient. Since the narrator knows everything and tells us much what’s going on. It gives credits to Arthur to be the reliable one.

    Reply
  12. Pilgi Jeon

    6. Why 42? Why doesn’t the supercomputer know how to explain what 42 means? Why is this important?

    There were a lot of guesses about 42. Some people said ‘Deep thought’ answered “42” because 42 is 101010 in binary system. Some supposed it is because light is refracted by 42 degrees when it pass through water.
    But the author of ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’, Douglas Adams, said that it was just a joke and all the guesses about its special meaning are wrong. It means that if he sat at his desk, stared into the garden and thought ’48 will do’, everyone would guess the special meaning of 48.
    So, in my opinion, 42 has no meaning. However, it is important because it is meaningless. It means that the ultimate question is ridiculous and there is no answer.

    Reply
  13. Kim jahyun

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

    The most important value of this book is to comically address the acrimonious critical consciousness of the world. The jokes in this book are not light. The critical consciousness of the world is unsettled in the absurd setting. For example, about the public power that have announced to a place where no one sees it breaking a house to make a bypass road. And there are 42 answers to questions about life, the universe and everything. but sometimes the content is so absurd that it can be passed without knowing the hidden meaning.It seems to be light on the outside, but the meaning hidden in it seems not light.

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