The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy | Study Guide

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The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy | Chapter 19 | Summary

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Summary

The Heart of Gold has successfully landed on the barren, dusty surface of Magrathea. The travelers are getting ready to exit the ship. There's a moment of upset when Trillian bursts from her cabin to announce that her two white mice have escaped. As no one else seems to care, nothing is done about it. The narrator notes that this might have been different had it been generally understood that human beings ranked third among intelligent life-forms on Earth. Most independent observers mistakenly believed that human beings were second.

When the four travelers and Marvin reach the airlock hatchway leading out to the planet, they are halted by Eddie, the computer. Zaphod Beeblebrox has adjusted its personality, and in new matriarchal tones, Eddie cautions the group to dress warmly and not to play with monsters. Offended by a rude response from Zaphod, Eddie flatly refuses to open the door until he is threatened. The computer then shouts dramatically after the exiting group, "It'll all end in tears, I know it."

Minutes later, Eddie opens and closes the hatchway in response to a command that catches it by surprise.

Analysis

Foreshadowing is an important element in this chapter. The point is emphasized that humans are the third most intelligent life-form on Earth. So then, who are the other two? The answer will play a part in upcoming events.

Connecting the above question with Trillian's missing mice suggests that they are more than just her last link with Earth. The narrator states that their loss would have held more significance if Zaphod Beeblebrox, Ford Prefect, and Arthur Dent had more clearly understood the intelligence ranking of humans. There is also the question of who else exits the ship. It may be significant that the mice are the only other life-form aboard. But mice cannot speak and command doors to open. Or can they?

Zaphod's reference to Marvin as the Paranoid Android has caused some confusion about the nature of the robot's problem. He is depressed and pessimistic, but is he paranoid? He displays no intensely anxious or fearful feelings and thoughts as someone suffering paranoia might. Because only Zaphod applies the epithet, it is nothing more than a snappy phrase that rhymes. Throughout the story, in a typical style-over-substance manner, the Galactic President applies nicknames to other characters that are not necessarily accurate descriptors.

Adams has said that Marvin was intended as a one-episode joke in the original radio scripts. The character became so wildly popular, however, that he had no choice but to continue the robot through the series. Marvin went on to make his own disco record (1981) and to have his own Depreciation Society for awhile.

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