The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
by Douglas Adams
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Questions
- Hitchhiker's Guide makes fun of a lot of things, but are there any things that this book takes seriously? Are any of the characters treated seriously? Are any institutions (like businesses, governments, or churches) treated seriously? Or is everything made fun of here?
- Hitchhiker's Guide is full of digressions and little stories that are set into the larger story. For instance, there's the story of the ballpoint planet in Chapter 21, or the story about Earth that Slartibartfast tells Arthur. Do you enjoy these digressions? Do they take away from the pacing of the story? Did you ever find it confusing to follow the many different plots and digressions going on? Or are some of these digressions just regular flashbacks that fill in information we need?
- Who do you think is the most important character in this book? Is there a hero/heroine here? Is there a character that you care about more than the others? Are there any villains? Another way to ask this question is: "Is there a conflict in this book and if so, between whom?"
- Do you need to know about science fiction to find this book funny or meaningful? Were there any times where you felt bored because Adams was using (or abusing) some science fiction idea? Or is the science fiction aspect not really the focus here? How would you feel if this book used some other genre's idea—could you write a version of this story where it was about, say, a mystery or a romance, but still have the same comedic style? What would be different if you changed the genre?
- Do you feel that this book has an episodic structure, where Arthur keeps facing new problems that are only slightly related to his old problems? Or do you think the book isn't as episodic as some critics say? If it is episodic, does it seem like the episodes are organized in a logical way? On a related note, what do you think of Adams's cliffhangers?
- Arthur stumbles through the book getting lectured by a variety of sources—Ford, the Guide, Slartibartfast, Slartibartfast's Sens-O-Tape documentary. Do these sources of info tell us things we need to know? Are they primarily used for comic relief? What would the book be like if Arthur didn't have any guide at all?
- Does this book seem particularly British to you? Is there a particular style of humor that seems British? Does this book remind you of other comedies that you've read or seen?
- Douglas Adams may be Jokey McJokerson, but in interviews he noted that he wanted things to make sense. For instance, he needed Arthur to understand what people said, so he spent a lot of time thinking about the Babel fish and how he could describe it so it would make sense, both to Arthur and to the reader. But are there things that don't make sense to you here? Are there issues that seem like they are purely here to make us laugh? Does that change the way you read?
- If you were writing this book today, what changes would you make? Would you want to add in modern technology? Would you want the book to take some sort of side on important issues of the day?
- This question might require more time and some scavenging skills, but if you can find a copy of the movie, TV show, or radio show, what sort of differences are there between these versions and the book? How do different versions deal with the narrator and the many digressions? Do you think that any of these versions are the best? Why do you like one more than the other?
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