The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Defeat
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In Hitchhiker's Guide, defeat is the natural condition for all of our favorite characters. This makes some sense for a comedy, since it's usually funny to watch people fail—as long as they don't die after they get ejected out of an airlock. Adams has to perform a careful balancing act: he has to keep his characters alive while showing them failing in funny ways. We might want these characters to succeed—and sometimes they do (often through a bit of luck)—but in an absurd universe, the very idea of success and defeat might need some rethinking. After all, if Earth had defeated the Vogons, what then? Earth would still be a giant computer running a program that no one on Earth knew about for the benefit of a bunch of mice. Is that success?
Questions About Defeat
- Is defeat ever a good thing in this book? Does being defeated lead our heroes (using the term loosely) on to better things?
- Does defeat mean the same thing for each character? For instance, does everyone agree on what it would mean to be defeated by the Magratheans?
- What techniques does Adams use to keep defeat humorous? Does he tell us how bad characters feel about being defeated or avoid that?
- Does he show us improper responses to defeat? Does he make it clear to us that defeat won't really hurt our favorite characters? Is defeat in this book ever serious?
- How do characters respond to defeat? Do different characters always respond in the same way? For instance, does Ford always make a joke when he's defeated?
Chew on This
In Hitchhiker's Guide, defeat is just a law of the universe, and so it's never sad. No one cries over gravity because it's just the way things are.
Hitchhiker's Guide teaches us never to accept defeat, because we don't know what's going to happen next (or because we're too stupid to know what's happening).
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