Course Hero. "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Study Guide." Course Hero. 28 Nov. 2016. Web. 20 June 2018. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Hitchhikers-Guide-to-the-Galaxy/>.
Course Hero. (2016, November 28). The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved June 20, 2018, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Hitchhikers-Guide-to-the-Galaxy/
(Course Hero, 2016)
Course Hero. "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Study Guide." November 28, 2016. Accessed June 20, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Hitchhikers-Guide-to-the-Galaxy/.
Course Hero, "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Study Guide," November 28, 2016, accessed June 20, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Hitchhikers-Guide-to-the-Galaxy/.
Zaphod Beeblebrox wakes up on a planet made of gold. Disappointingly, it exists only as part of a Sens-O-Tape program activated to keep him and his companions, Ford Prefect and Trillian, distracted for a while. As part of the program, the scenes keep changing, and in an attempt to ignore this, Ford gets Zaphod to talk more about his brains and the recent discovery that they have been altered.
Thinking back, Zaphod believes things started getting strange for him right after the previous President of the Galaxy, Yooden Vranx, died. He and Ford had met Yooden Vranx when they were both kids and he was captain of a megafreighter. On that day, Zaphod had decided to raid the megafreighter—a nearly impossible feat. With Ford along as a witness, he pulled it off, marching onto the ship's bridge, waving a toy pistol and demanding conkers (horse chestnuts).
Yooden Vranx went on to become President of the Galaxy and, just before he died, came to visit Zaphod. He told Zaphod about the secret ship Heart of Gold and described how to steal it. Why he would plant this idea remains a question, but Zaphod then set himself up to become the next galactic president in order to carry out the plan. To prevent the plan and anything related to it from being accidentally revealed through brain screening tests, Zaphod had "mucked about" in his own brain. He knows that he is too untrustworthy to keep his own secrets.
At this moment, the Sens-O-Tape program shuts down, and the three travelers find themselves in a nicely furnished waiting room. A Magrathean man appears and politely informs them that the mice will see them now.
At this point, Zaphod Beeblebrox is proving to be more than a reckless scoundrel. Something he must hide—even from himself—drove him to become Galactic President, to steal the Heart of Gold, and to search for Magrathea. He also is responsible for picking up Trillian at a party during a random trip to Earth—a party during which she and Arthur Dent briefly meet. When she hitches a ride with Zaphod, she happens to bring along her two mice, which saves them from destruction along with Earth. In a highly improbable incident, the Heart of Gold picks up Ford Prefect and Arthur in space on the way to Magrathea, neatly bringing together the elements necessary for solving the problem caused by Earth's untimely destruction.
As the climax to the story approaches, the crazy-quilt pattern of randomness and absurdity is forming a picture. Events appear to actually have had a purpose, and mice—the pandimensional life-forms in charge of the Earth experiment—are behind it all. The question is, what do the mice have in mind for their Earth Mark Two project?
The story of Zaphod's escapade aboard Yooden Vranx's megafreighter reveals a bit more history of his relationship with his semi-cousin Ford. It also reveals Ford's age. On the day Zaphod stole the Heart of Gold, he was celebrating his 200th birthday. Because he and Ford were kids together, Ford must be close to that age.
The conkers that Zaphod demands when he "takes over" the bridge on the megafreighter refers to the fruit of the horse chestnut tree. Round like a hazelnut, they have a hard, rich brown casing. Conkers are used in a popular children's game in the United Kingdom. In the United States, they are called "buckeyes."