Life, the Universe and Everything
"HYSTERICAL!"--The Philadelphia InquirerThe unhappy inhabitants of planet Krikkit are sick of looking at the night sky above their heads--so they plan to destroy it. The universe, that is. Now only five individuals stand between the white killer robots of Krikkit and their goal of total annihilation.They are Arthur Dent, a mild-mannered space and time traveler, who tries to learn how to fly by throwing himself at the ground and missing; Ford Prefect, his best friend, who decides to go insane to see if he likes it; Slartibartfast, the indomitable vicepresident of the Campaign for Real Time, who travels in a ship powered by irrational behavior; Zaphod Beeblebrox, the two-headed, three-armed ex-head honcho of the Universe; and Trillian, the sexy space cadet who is torn between a persistent Thunder God and a very depressed Beeblebrox.How will it all end? Will it end? Only this stalwart crew knows as they try to avert "universal" Armageddon and save life as we know it--and don't know it!"ADAMS IS ONE OF THOSE RARE TREASURES: an author who, one senses, has as much fun writing as one has reading."--The Arizona Daily Star
The curriculet is being added to your library
As you read, you will come across words that you might not be familiar with. Curriculet books have a built-in tool to help you define individual words. Simply click on a word, and select the "Define" tool. This will bring up a standard dictionary definition for most words. Words that do not have a definition can be quickly looked up on Google from this pop-up tool.
Let's practice using the Define tool. Look up the highlighted word and answer the following question: The word "silhouetted" is MOST likely meant to tell the reader that this tall figure is
Although the out-of-this-world setting is an exciting aspect of this novel, it is easy to sense that the author enjoys crafting rich characters for his story. Both characters we have met so far seem to have been characterized already (because this is a sequel). The video below explains how authors develop characters, and as you read on you will asked to consider how these characters change throughout the story. (This annotation contains a video)
For those unfamiliar with space travel, it is a common technique to use the gravitational pull of a large body, like a star or a planet, to create momentum and slingshot a traveling body into space. As a body approaches close enough to another body, the force of gravity pulls on the traveling body. If the traveling body is accelerating fast enough, it creates an even more accelerated force. Physicists classify this as a gravity assist. See the image below describe the physics involved. (This annotation contains an image)
What do Arthur Dent and Wowbagger the Infinitely Prolonged both have in common?
Arthur is the protagonist of this story. Although, the depiction of him is hardly heroic. He is what one would call an "accidental hero." He doesn't quite fit the mold of a hero, but is the one who has to face the conflicts in this story. What character traits does he NOT possess that true hero might?
The book you are reading now is a third of five books in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series. As you watch the trailer below, you should get a sense of the humor that fills the pages of this science fiction series. (This annotation contains a video)
Ford is trying to help Arthur remember
The author, Douglas Adams, creates a humorous tone in this novel by using a variety of literary techniques. In this highlighted passage he uses a play on words by taking advantage of the word "Eddies" which Arthur thinks refers to a person. Ford is using it in the sense of an eddy in a body of water to explain the unique space travel opportunity that is happening before them.
A common archetype in literature is the "accidental hero" - a person who finds himself in a conflict he never wanted. In what ways does Arthur appear to be this type of hero? Use evidence from the text to support your response.
Why do Arthur and Ford MOST likely refer to everything in terms of shapes?
Betelgueuse is a star that is much larger than our Sun. It is also the solar entity in Ford's home solar system. A picture of Betelgeuse is shown below. (This annotation contains an image)
What does Ford's curious behavior tell us about him?
Two things are going on here. First, Arthur, Ford, and Slartibartfast all have an awareness of the alien presence going on around them. The spectators at the cricket match have no clue that their is something unusual going on here, but their celebration seems to be coinciding with some inter-galactic conflict.
Which of the following quotes from the highlighted passage BEST demonstrates how the author uses humor to de-escalate the intensity of the scene?
Wowbagger reappears. What clue gives away that this is the creature Arthur meets in Chapter 1?
A pram, or small stroller, is shown below. Arthur and Ford had previously traveled on the Heart of Gold spaceship, but Slartibartfast's ship is much more sophisticated than their old ship. (This annotation contains an image)
What tone does Ford use in his dialogue that BEST characterizes his outlook on life?
To understand what is going on in this novel, and move past the strange metaphors and phrases, it helps to make meaning out of these phrases and scenes. Take this scene, for example. "Bistromaithics" sounds like a branch of science with the word "bistro" in front of it. Somehow this room in the spaceship (aka. bistro) is where information is processed for the space journey. As you read on, you will be asked to make sense out of other enigmatic parts of the plot and consider why they are there.
If you are having trouble making sense of all of this bistromathics, don't worry. You're not alone. Instead of comprehending how bistromathics works, think about what the author is trying to accomplish in this chapter. He wants to get one of two reactions out of you - you will either see this chapter as serious explanation of an important scientific concept or you will see this as an absurd tangent that is meant to make you question the seriousness of some overly serious individuals.
This novel contains several themes. Themes are explained in the video below. Although the themes in this novel might not be as serious as themes in other works of literature, they nonetheless are important to understand and evaluate. What theme do you think is conveyed in this chapter? (This annotation contains a video)
Notice how apathetic and annoyed Ford and Arthur are with Slartibartfast. They are basically stuck listening to his monologue about space travel and other morbid prophecies about the future. How do you feel as you listen to him?
Slartifartbast appears to be very serious, morbid, and deeply intelligent. The readers and characters, though, most likely interpret him differently. In what ways does Slartibartfast represent the theme of "absurdity"? Use evidence from the previous chapters to support your response.
Stars, like our sun, burn when hydrogen atoms collide and separate in a process called nuclear fusion. The separation of atoms that have been fused together creates an enormous amount of energy.
In this absurd universe, MOST things we manufacture on Earth
The introduction of nonsensical words from other parts of the universe contributes to the _________ tone of this chapter.
The image below is an artist's rendition of this scene. How well do you think it depicts the setting and the characters? (This annotation contains an image)
Meet Marvin. Watch the video below from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy to see how he is portrayed in film. He is a depressed robot with all the intelligence in the world, but no capacity for emotions (which is highly ironic). Does this video give you a new understanding of how to read his character? (This annotation contains a video)
The wikkit gate shown in the annotation below is a symbol of balance and order in the universe. Civilization followed these principles until they were destroyed by the Krikkit--a group of people who tried to destroy the universe. The symbol you see below is almost identical to the wicket used in cricket. In fact, many of the terms used in this novel are derived from the sport of cricket. To learn more about this correlation follow the link at the bottom of this annotation. (This annotation contains a link)
Here is a picture of a wikkit gate. (This annotation contains an image)
In the midst of these tumultuous events, Ford is surprisingly __________.
After watching (or being in) a virtual simulation of the end of the universe, Arthur, Ford, and Slartibartfast end up in Krikkit--the place where the destroyers of the universe live. Below is a picture of Krikkit looking inward on this planet that was shrouded by a black cloud for most of its history. (This annotation contains an image)
Zaphod Beeblebrox, one of the most intriguing villains in The Hitchhiker series, is shown below. He has two heads, three arms, and is quite full of himself as you can see. (This annotation contains an image)
Why does Zaphod seem so insecure about himself?
By now, you are probably used to the humorous tone and comments of the author. While this novel can be classified as a comedic science fiction, it actually fits more appropriately with a specific type of literature: the screwball (farcical) comedy. Screwball comedies deal with unlikely situations, unlikely responses, fast paced action, and exaggerated characterizations. Think for a moment about these elements in this novel. Do you think this classification works?
Why does Trillian leave?
Below is an artist's rendition of the Krikkit robots. Notice that he is holding a cricket bat in his hand. What do you think these robots have to do with the "whop" sound that Zaphod hears? (This annotation contains an image)
What appears to be the robots' MAIN goal?
The plot line in this novel jumps from character to character quite a bit. One chapter we are with Arthur; the next with a new character. This is often referred to as a parallel plot. The video below explains this concept in more detail. (This annotation contains a video)
Here's the song the Krikkit sing. This is from the radio version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Although the song is pretty, it's lyrics are disturbing in light of the context. (This annotation contains a video)
The connection that the author wants us to make here is to the Titanic. The Titanic was built to be "unsinkable." It sunk on its first voyage after striking an iceberg. It is perhaps one of the most tragically ironic events of history. What theme do you think the author is conveying in this chapter by mentioning the Titanic? (This annotation contains an image)
How does the author explore the theme of "ignorance and its consequences" in this chapter? Use textual evidence to support your response.
The root word "xeno" in xenophobes MOST likely means which of the following?
Use the Define tool to look up the definition of this word.
Part I Quiz
The author's treatment of the judicial process can be considered an example of satirical comedy because it shows a serious figure in an absurd light. The judge's decision seems arbitrary and strange, and we get a sense that although he is very smart, his moral fiber is not congruent with the "honorable" part of his judiciary duties.
What can the reader MOST likely infer about Zipo?
Although it's not explained thoroughly in this novel, the basic premise behind this story is that people figure out how to time travel and solve problems. If you've ever seen a time travel movie, you know that time travel has implications for both going forward and backward. Slartibartfast is explaining a problem in time travel to Arthur and Ford - too many people have used it, polluted it, and now this has caused problems for those who need to time travel.
How does the news about the end of the Universe MOST affect Ford?
Movies such as " The Butterfly Effect" and "Back to the Future II" tap into this theme about the consequences of time travel--trying too hard to make something better can actually make it worse. How do you think this theme relates to what the main characters in this story are trying to do?
What element in this chapter MOST creates suspense?
Who is Arthur MOST likely having a conversation with?
In what way is Agrajag MOST obviously similar to the Krikkit?
Arthur only escalates the fury in Argrajag by insisting that he is coincidentally and unknowingly killing him. The serious mood of this scene suddenly becomes quite comical as Arthur can't help but make this creature's important mission and outlook on life seem trivial.
Below is an artist's depiction of Agrajag. Does he look like the author's description? (This annotation contains an image)
"Zark" is an example of a euphemism--an appropriate phrase substituted for an inappropriate one (profanity). "Holy cow!" and "Shoot!" are two examples. Because we are in space, the euphemisms sound a little odd, but they are nevertheless part of what makes us feel like we are interacting with aliens.
The Guide is an electronic book, much like an e-Book on a Kindle or Nook, that tells casual travelers how to survive in the Galaxy. It is intended to be practical, like a travel guide you might purchase if you took a trip to another country. The biggest difference is that the tone of The Guide and its hodgepodge content make it a much more comical and entertaining read. (This annotation contains an image)
What aspect of our society might Brockian Ultra Cricket highlight? Use evidence from the text to support your response.
If you recall from earlier chapters, The Guide offers advice on flying. It says to simply miss the ground and that distractions help. This is what Arthur is doing to stay afloat.
In what ways have the challenging events in this novel up to this point changed Arthur Dent? Explain using evidence from the text.
The partygoers on this floating party are MOST similar to
Although this seems like a silly bit of inner monologue, what theme does the highlighted passage touch upon?
Thor, the Norse god of thunder, is not only a popular Marvel superhero--he's a character who can travel back and forth between space and time. His cameo in this novel, though, has nothing to do with heroics. In fact, he's simply a hunk arm to hang on for Trillian--a rebound relationship after she left Zaphod. (This annotation contains an image)
A bail (also spelled bale) is like a pendant that hangs from a necklace or bracelet. It is one of the few pieces that the space guardians need in order to piece together the Wikkit Gate and save the world. A picture of a few bails is shown below. (This annotation contains an image)
How do the characters at the party MOST affect the plot?
Take a moment and think about another famous literary work in which the main character encounters absurd character after absurd character. Alice in Wonderland is a prime example of this type of nonsensical story. The book was actually written for Alice by a close family friend, and, although silly at times, it shows how hard it is for a determined, logical person to stay on track of one's goals in a crazy, often illogical world. If you are familiar with the story do you agree that there are similarities between Alice and Arthur's world? (This annotation contains an image)
What world view is BEST conveyed in this highlighted passage?
Part II Quiz
Arthur is obviously upset that he is being reprimanded (again!) by Ford and that Trillian did not thank him for saving her. This creates tension in the story. Watch the following video to learn more about tension and be prepared to respond to questions about how it is present in this novel and how it affects the plot, themes, and characters. (This annotation contains a video)
Why did Hactar design a flawed bomb?
The way this chapter ends, creates a sense of tension within the plot. One might call this a cliffhanger. As the chapter ends, the reader is left wondering what they had "arrived too late" to discover.
What is the significance of the Wikkit Key?
Why do the events in the previous chapter spell out the end of the Galaxy?
Zaphod, like Ford, don't appear to be the brave characters that Arthur and Slartibartfast do. As you read, though, think about the admirable characteristics they both portray. At some point their mettle will be tested.
Which element in this chapter creates the MOST tension?
What MOST likely does Zaphod decide to do at the end of this chapter?
Surprisingly, not all Krikkiters are hell-bent on destroying their universe. Some have apparently developed a conscience and a philosophical perspective on life and nature. This scene represents a point in the novel in which our perception of the Krikkits could change because we learn something unexpected about them.
Trilian is able to reason with the Krikkiter because she has something the other men in her group do not. What is it that she has?
The Krikkiters were alone (or so they thought) in the galaxy. A spaceship descended into their planet's atmosphere and broke up the Dust Cloud surrounding their planet, showing them a galaxy beyond their own planet.
Why are the robots that the Krikkiter's built to help destroy the galaxy not cooperating?
In another book titled "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" the question of whether or not artificial intelligence, or even just robots, can develop humanity like humans, forms the central question of the novel. This is an allusion to this famous science fiction work, and it would most likely be easily recognizable by science fiction fans of the late 20th century. (This annotation contains an image)
What conclusions has Trillian come to about the Krikkiters that she is trying to explain to her friends? Use evidence from the text to support your response.
Hactar is a supercomputer that was built by the Silastic Armorfiends, who, before the Krikkiters, wanted to destroy the galaxy. They built Hactar to develop a way to accomplish their goal. He built the first bomb that could destroy the whole universe, but had philosophical qualms about doing so and sabotaged his own bomb. The Armorfiends killed Hactar. Below is an artist's rendering of Hactar. Apparently, he's not dead. (This annotation contains an image)
How does Hactar survive in this new setting?
Which of the following is NOT a reason Hactar wants to destroy the Galaxy?
The video below highlights some action sequences from a cricket match. Arthur is bowling, or hurling the ball towards the wicket much like the bowler in this video. (This annotation contains a video)
What inference can you make about Arthur's bowling activity?
Arthur has become volitant again. Take a moment and think about what this signifies about his development as a character. How does his flying show how he has changed throughout the course of this novel?
Treating such a serious manner as an absurd one, like this novel has done many times so far, tends to make the reader question things that we think are really important. Why do you think the author makes the serious absurd so often throughout this text?
What mood does Prak and his knowledge of the truth seem to create in this scene?
Part III Quiz