The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy | Study Guide

Douglas Adams

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Course Hero. "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Study Guide." Course Hero. 28 Nov. 2016. Web. 19 Nov. 2018. <>.

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Course Hero. (2016, November 28). The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved November 19, 2018, from

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Course Hero. "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Study Guide." November 28, 2016. Accessed November 19, 2018.


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The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy | Chapter 21 | Summary



Meanwhile, on the surface of Magrathea, Arthur Dent is strolling around and reading random selections in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. He chances upon the account of Veet Voojagig, a quiet, serious university student at the University of Maximegalon. After a night of drinking Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters, he suddenly becomes obsessed with tracking down all his ballpoint pens that have gone missing over the past few years. Eventually, he claims to have found them all (and everybody else's missing pens) on a small planet that is reached by slipping through wormholes in space. There, the ballpoint pens enjoy a satisfying ballpoint-oriented existence. Veet Voojagig is soon after taken away and locked up. Later, an expedition is sent to the special coordinates he had provided for the planet, but only a small asteroid inhabits the spot. On it lives a solitary and very old man who claims repeatedly that nothing is true, but is later found to be lying. As The Guide explains, this does not account for the vast amounts of money paid yearly into the old man's bank account or Zaphod Beeblebrox's highly profitable secondhand ballpoint pen business.

When he is finished reading, Arthur tries unsuccessfully to have a pleasant conversation with Marvin. Giving up in no time, he goes for a walk up the side of the crater. Night has fallen and it's very dark. He nearly walks into an old man before he notices him.


The chapter offers another clue to the mystery of Zaphod Beeblebrox. One secret to his wealth apparently is a thriving secondhand ballpoint pen business. Young Veet Voojagig may not have been mad after all.

In radio and earlier versions of The Hitchhiker's Guide, the word biro is used instead of ballpoint pen. The term biro is used in many countries to refer to a ballpoint pen. The name honors László József Bíró, who is considered the inventor of ballpoint technology. In 2001, Douglas Adams passed away from a heart attack. His London gravesite in Highgate Cemetery is marked with a headstone that simply describes him as "Writer." In tribute to the author who created a planet just for ballpoint life-forms, fans visiting the grave leave ballpoint pens in singles and bouquets. They also leave other items referenced in Adams's writing, including towels.

Adams introduces a very old man living on an asteroid in the spot where the planetary retreat for ballpoint pens should be. He also introduces an interesting paradox. The elderly inhabitant claims that nothing is true, but is later discovered to be lying. This contradiction might imply that everything is true, yet because the man lies, even that conclusion cannot be trusted. Adams plays with the idea of truth versus lies, raising questions about the nature of truth and the impact of lies. He seems to suggest that once lies are introduced, nothing that comes after can or should be trusted.

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