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. 19 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 19, 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 19, 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 19, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Hitchhikers-Guide-to-the-Galaxy/.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy | Plot Summary

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Summary

As The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy opens, it's Thursday morning and already Arthur Dent—an average British citizen—is having a bad day. His house is about to be demolished to make way for a freeway bypass. Arguing and lying down in front of the bulldozer don't seem to be getting him anywhere. He soon learns it doesn't matter much anyway, because Earth is about to be destroyed by some nasty alien creatures called Vogons. It seems Earth must be cleared from the path of a new hyperspatial express route. The bearer of these bad tidings is Arthur's friend Ford Prefect, whom Arthur has always believed was an out-of-work actor. He is, in fact, an alien who has been stranded on Earth for 15 years. He has a plan, however, for surviving the planet's demolition: hitch a ride on one of the Vogon Constructor Fleet spaceships. This is exactly what Ford does, dragging Arthur along.

Meanwhile, in another part of the galaxy, Zaphod Beeblebrox, Galactic President, is busy stealing a new, top-secret spaceship, the Heart of Gold. At its unveiling ceremony, before an unsuspecting crowd, Zaphod whisks the ship away. With him is Trillian, an Earth girl he picked up recently at a party, and Marvin, a chronically depressed robot. Zaphod is heading for the renowned (and possibly purely mythical) planet of Magrathea. On the way, quite unexpectedly, he picks up Ford and Arthur, who have just been chucked out into space from the Vogon spaceship.

Long ago—about five million years back—Magrathea was a planet that custom-designed planets for ultra-rich people. When the people ran out of money, Magrathea disappeared and became something of a legend. Zaphod is hoping to find it. To everyone's wonder, he does, but the planet seems dead and deserted. Nevertheless, Zaphod, Ford, and Trillian go off to explore its interior, while Arthur and Marvin stay behind on the surface. At this point, an elderly inhabitant of the planet shows up, introduces himself to Arthur, and tells the Earthman the truth about his recently demolished planet.

The Magrathean's name is Slartibartfast, and he explains to Arthur that Earth was a giant computer constructed, paid for, and run by mice. Its purpose was to find the Ultimate Question that would reveal the meaning of Life, the Universe, and Everything. The Ultimate Answer had already been supplied by a supercomputer called Deep Thought, and that answer was "Forty-two." However, without the proper question, the answer was meaningless. Unfortunately, Earth's destruction came just five minutes before its calculations were complete and the question made known. To the mice, the only alternative now is to extract the information from an organic component of the computer: an Earthling's brain. Because Arthur was on Earth just before its untimely end, he is their target. It requires only that he give up his brain. Arthur does not receive this news very well.

The sudden arrival of cops looking to arrest Zaphod and retrieve the Heart of Gold offers escape. Arthur and his companions get back to their ship, head out into space and, feeling a bit hungry, set course for the Restaurant at the End of the Universe.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Plot Diagram

123456789101112131415ClimaxResolutionIntroductionRising ActionFalling Action

Introduction

1 Arthur Dent's house is destroyed by a bulldozer.

Rising Action

2 Earth is destroyed by a Vogon Constructor Fleet.

3 Zaphod Beeblebrox steals the Heart of Gold.

4 Ford Prefect helps Arthur hitch a ride on Vogon's flagship.

5 Hitchhikers are left, rescued by Heart of Gold.

6 Zaphod, Trillian, Ford, and Arthur travel to Magrathea.

7 They escape missile attack using the Improbability Drive.

8 While the others explore, Arthur meets Slartibartfast.

9 Arthur learns the true history of Earth and its purpose.

10 Arthur meets the race of mice who commissioned Earth.

Climax

11 The mice reveal their intention to dice up Arthur's brain.

Falling Action

12 They escape the mice but are caught by interstellar cops.

13 They are saved when the cops' life-support systems shut off.

14 With Slartibartfast's help, the crew gets back to starship.

Resolution

15 The crew goes to the Restaurant at the End of the Universe.

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