The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy | Study Guide

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Course Hero. "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Study Guide." November 28, 2016. Accessed November 14, 2018.


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The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy | Chapter 11 | Summary



Ford Prefect and Arthur Dent, against tremendous odds, have been picked up by the Heart of Gold as Zaphod Beeblebrox makes his escape with the ship from the planet Damogran. The Galactic President has brought along the Earthling girl, Trillian, whose voice Ford and Arthur hear announcing probability factors. Those numbers are still falling.

Zaphod is not really pleased at having rescued two unknown aliens free-floating in space and facing certain death. Odds are that the police of half of the galaxy are after him by now. However, he had little to say about it. The ship, while in Improbability Drive mode, performed this very improbable feat.

When the probability factors at last achieve one-to-one normality, Zaphod sends Marvin to fetch the aliens and bring them to the control cabin. Marvin is a fairly new, beautifully constructed and polished robot designed by the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation. Its marketing branch defines a robot as "Your Plastic Pal Who's Fun to Be With." Its newest generation of robots and computers feature GPP (Genuine People Personalities). Marvin is a prototype, and his GPP is both chronically depressed and depressing.

While escorting Ford and Arthur to the ship's bridge, Marvin explains that the ship has been stolen by Zaphod Beeblebrox. Ford's reaction to the news is a jumbled mess of shock and amazement.


The four main characters of the novel are finally brought together, and a new character introduced: Marvin. He is a robot, defined by the Encyclopedia Galactica as "a mechanical apparatus designed to do the work of man."

Adams once said, "We are stuck with technology when what we really want is just stuff that works." In other words, just because some high-tech device employs the latest in scientific knowledge does not mean it works or is practical. Marvin seems to fit this idea. He is the prototype for the latest and greatest in robots, which includes a Genuine People Personality. He has "a brain the size of a planet," yet he is nearly useless because of his wounded sense of intellectual superiority and a chronic case of depression. Adams uses Marvin's bleak presence and endless complaints to raise questions about the meaning of life, the nature of artificial intelligence, and the relationship between intelligence and happiness.

The character of Marvin is based on a rather dour personal friend of Adams, comedy writer Andrew Marshall, and the always-gloomy Eeyore in the Winnie the Pooh stories. Adams also confesses to shamelessly pinching Marvin's iconic statement, "Life! Don't talk to me about life!" from a fellow comedy writer, who used it as an opening line to a monologue.

Trillian's role on the ship, besides her relationship with Zaphod, seems to be running things and keeping Zaphod from doing something silly that could blow up the ship. She's highly efficient, and her observations about Zaphod's character are revealing. She suspects that "the main reason he had had such a wild and successful life was he never really understood the significance of anything he did." As the story proceeds, readers suspect that she is right.

Ford's extreme reaction to hearing that Zaphod Beeblebrox is on the ship hints that there is more to be discovered about the Galactic President.

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