Literapedia Book Notes for

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams


Characters

  • Arthur Dent (ch 1)— main character, lives alone in a small house in West Country.
  • Mr. L. Prosser (ch 1)—a descendant from Genghis Khan who works for the local council.
  • Ford Prefect (ch 1)—a writer for the Guide who got stranded on Earth fifteen years earlier. He is from a small planet near Betelgeuse. He is also good friends with Arthur.
  • Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz (ch 3)—commander of the ship on which Arthur and Ford hitch a ride, hates hitchhikers.
  • Zaphod Beeblebrox (ch 4)—two-headed president of the Inmperial Galactic Government, really just a figurehead, friends with Ford and dating Trillian
  • Tricia McMillan (ch 4)—also known as Trillian, was picked up by Zaphod, only other surviving member or Earth.
  • Marvin (ch 11)—a manically depressed robot who works on the Spaceship Heart of Gold.
  • Sirius Cybernetics Shipboard Computer (ch 12)—the annoyingly cheerful computer on the Spaceship Heart of Gold.
  • Slartibartfast (ch 22)—a Magrathean worker and maker of planets. He won an award for Norway.
  • Lunkwill (ch 25)—a programmer for Deep Thought
  • Fook (ch 25)—a programmer for Deep Thought
  • Deep Thought (ch 25)—the greatest supercomputer ever made
  • Majikthise (ch 25)—a philosopher from the Cruxwan University
  • Vroomfondel (ch 25)—another philosopher from the Cruxwan University
  • Loonquawl (ch 27)—a new Deep Thought technician.
  • Phouchg (ch 27)—another new Deep Thought technician.

Chapter Summaries


Prologue: Earth's history is described in brief, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is introduced, the story begins
  1. Arthur's house is going to be demolished to build a bypass. He argues with Prosser and then Ford stalls the workers and gets Arthur to go to the pub.
  2. Differing definitions of alcohol are given. Arthur and Ford go to the pub. Ford tells Arthur that he's not really from Guildford and that the world is about to end.
  3. The Guide talks about towels and Arthur tries to stop the workers from demolishing his house. The Vogons blow up Earth.
  4. Zaphod is introduced. He goes to the Heart of Gold ceremony and paralyzes the crowd.
  5. Vogons are discussed, and Arthur and Ford end up on a Vogon ship. Ford puts a Babel fish in Arthur's ear so he can understand other languages, and he starts listening to the Vogon speaking over the intercom.
  6. The Vogons have discovered Arthur and Ford. The Guide talks about Babel fish and Arthur tries to come to terms with the fact that his planet has been destroyed. The Vogons are about to come get the two hitchhikers.
  7. Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz reads Vogon poetry to Arthur and Ford. It is like torture to Ford. Arthur tries to tell Jeltz that he liked his poetry but he still orders them to be thrown into space. While a Vogon guard takes them to their death, Ford attempts to convince the guard to change careers so that they might be saved, but it doesn't work. Arthur and Ford are thrown into the vacuum of space.
  8. The Guide says that space is "really big," and even though it was highly improbable, Arthur and Ford were rescued.
  9. Ford and Arthur go through a series of very strange occurrences until they end up on the Starship Heart of Gold.
  10. The Infinite Improbability Drive is discussed.
  11. Zaphod and Trillian are on the ship. They send Marvin to pick up the hitchhikers. Marvin finds Ford and Arthur, and Ford finds out that Zaphod is on the ship.
  12. Trillian and Zaphod talk about the Improbability Drive and the fact that the two hitchhikers were picked up at the same place as Trillian was.
  13. Marvin takes Ford and Arthur to the bridge. Zaphod and Ford know each other, and Arthur says he's met Zaphod at a party where he stole a girl Arthur was hanging out with. The girl turns out to be Trillian, who meets Arthur again on the ship.
  14. Everyone but Arthur can't sleep. Arthur wakes up when they find the legendary planet Magrathea.
  15. The Guide talks about Magrathea.
  16. Ford and Zaphod argue about the existence of Magrathea. They watch two suns rising, and the book tells us that the party survives the deadly missile attack in the next chapter.
  17. A recorded voice from the planet confirms that it is Magrathea and that two nuclear warheads have been launched at their ship. The ship turns on manual control and is about to crash when Arthur pushes the Improbability Drive.
  18. The ship turns out all right, with new interior design, and the two missiles are turned into a bowl of petunias and a whale. The whale tries to come to terms with life before it dies, and the petunias say, "Oh no, not again."
  19. Zaphod changed the personality of the computer to a more matriarchal personality. This computer tries to stop them from exploring Magrathea but they go anyway.
  20. The party explores Magrathea and they find a crater that the whale created when it hit the ground. In the crater they find an underground passage. They leave Martin and Arthur to guard the passage. The rest explore the passage and talk about Zaphod's motives for this journey. Then they get trapped and pass out from gas fumes.
  21. Arthur and Martin are alone in the crater. Finally Arthur can't bear anymore and he decided to leave, but bumps into an old man.
  22. Arthur meets Slartibartfast, who gets him to follow him into the planet. Slartibartfast tells Arthur that the Magratheans have been sleeping for five million years and have just begun to wake up.
  23. Humans are not the most intelligent creatures in the universe, but the third. Dolphins are the second most intelligent.
  24. Arthur and Slartibartfast travel through Magrathea, to where they build planets. Earth is being remade.
  25. The history of Magrathea and Deep Thought is discussed. Lunkwill and Fook ask Deep Thought for the ultimate question. Deep Thought says it will take 7.5 million years and then Vroomfonel and Majikthise are worried about losing their jobs.
  26. Slartibartfast takes Arthur to watch the Sens-O-Tape to find out what happened on Magrathea 7.5 million years later.
  27. Arthur watches the Sens-O-Tape. A crowd has gathered to find out the answer to the ultimate question from Deep Thought. Loonquawl and Phouchg ask Deep Thought for the answer and it says "Forty-two."
  28. Loonquawl and Phouchg are upset that the crowd might kill them for that answer. Deep Thought says it will create another computer, the Earth, that will find the Ultimate Question.
  29. Zaphod, Trillian, and Ford find themselves in the midst of an illusion made by the Magratheans. Zaphod discusses his history and why he decided to find Magrathea. A man comes to take them to see the mice.
  30. Slartibarfast and Arthur discuss Earth and Deep Thought. He takes Arthur to see the mice.
  31. The nature of careless talk is discussed. Arthur arrives and finds Ford, Zaphod, and Trillian eating a glorious meal. He then sees two white mice who can speak. The mice want to take Arthur’s brain to find the answer to the Ultimate Question. Trillian and the rest try to save him.
  32. Magrathea is under attack and the alarms are going off. Arthur and the rest get away from the mice but some cops start shooting at them.
  33. The shooting stops and the gang goes to find out what had happened. Their manner of breathing had been blown up and the cops were all dead. The gang leaves in Slartibartfast’s aircar.
  34. The gang reaches the cops’ ship, which had committed suicide because Marvin talked to it about the Universe.
  35. The gang is on the Heart of Gold spaceship again and decide to go to a restaurant at the end of the Universe.

Book Note Creator


Adrianna Foster, '08