The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy | Study Guide

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Course Hero. "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Study Guide." Course Hero. 28 Nov. 2016. Web. 17 July 2018. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Hitchhikers-Guide-to-the-Galaxy/>.

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Course Hero. (2016, November 28). The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved July 17, 2018, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Hitchhikers-Guide-to-the-Galaxy/

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Course Hero. "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Study Guide." November 28, 2016. Accessed July 17, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Hitchhikers-Guide-to-the-Galaxy/.

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Course Hero, "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Study Guide," November 28, 2016, accessed July 17, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Hitchhikers-Guide-to-the-Galaxy/.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy | Chapter 2 | Summary

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Summary

Under the entry "alcohol" in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster is listed as the best drink in existence. Drinking it "is like having your brains smashed out by a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick." Directions are provided in how to mix one yourself, with the added caution to drink the results "very carefully." In contrast, the Encyclopedia Galactica describes alcohol in rather dull terms and sells fewer copies than its competitor.

This aside from the guide brings Ford Prefect and Arthur Dent to the local pub, the Horse and Groom. Ford order six pints of beer, slaps down a five-pound note for the barman, and tells him he has 10 minutes to spend it—the world is about to end. He then orders Arthur to drink up his share of the beers quickly; he's going to need a muscle relaxant. Thoroughly confused, Arthur wonders aloud what exactly is going wrong with the day, "or has the world always been like this and I've been too self-involved to notice?" Ford tries to explain who he really is (an alien from a small planet in the vicinity of Betelgeuse), and then repeats that the world is about to end. Starting in on his beers, Arthur murmurs, "This must be Thursday ... I never could get the hang of Thursdays."

Analysis

The chapter begins with an entry about alcohol from the electronic book, which is another example of the literary device called metafiction. With a book-within-a-book reference, Adams intentionally intrudes on the story and draws attention to the fact that it is a work of art and not real. Adams continues to use this device throughout the novel.

The entry for alcohol in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy provides a detailed description of how to make a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster—a drink invented by Zaphod Beeblebrox, who will be introduced shortly. In the footnotes to his original radio scripts, Adams says that "it is in fact impossible to mix a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster under Earth's atmospheric conditions."

It's clear by the end of the chapter that Ford Prefect is convinced that the world is about to end, though how and why is still a mystery. His plan for escape seems to involve being well relaxed with alcohol, and he intends to take Arthur with him.

When Arthur objects to drinking three pints of beer at lunchtime, Ford responds, "Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so." This popular line characterizes Adams's special brand of humor in which he links ideas that at first glance seem related. A closer look, however, shows that the ideas are quite dissimilar—one is important and the other trivial. The effect is mind-tickling humor. In this case, both statements refer to time, but the first—Time is an illusion—points to a deep philosophical question: What is Time and its true nature? Then, without missing a beat, Adams links it to the trivial notion of lunchtime, an arbitrary designation for a human activity within time—which makes it an illusion within an illusion.

Finally, the chapter establishes Arthur as forever baffled by events and nursing a vague sense of dismay as he is pushed along by Ford and circumstances. He is just an ordinary everyman, and in a way, easy to relate to. Yet, soon he will be one of only two surviving members of the human race—which makes him rather special.

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