Study Guide

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Exploration

By Douglas Adams

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Exploration in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is about moving out into the unknown and experiencing new things, which are almost always scary or dangerous. For instance, remember the cheerful, intelligent, friendly whale and his exploration of what it's like to fall from a great height? While the whale and Arthur may be trying to explore in order to figure out where they fit in the universe (answer: the whale fits very nicely in a whale-shaped crater), other characters may have less pure motives for exploration, like greedy Zaphod and the money-grubbing mice.

Questions About Exploration

  1. What role does curiosity play in exploration? Do characters explore because they are curious or for other reasons? Do some characters get forced into exploring and have no motives at all?
  2. How do different characters react to new experiences? Do characters always react the same way? For instance, Arthur is sometimes nervous, but is he always nervous with new experiences?
  3. How does exploration relate to the other themes, like sadness? Are explorers sadder and more defeated than non-explorers?
  4. Does exploration ever lead to bad things—secrets that shouldn't be learned? Alternatively, does exploration ever lead to good things—does it ever help people?

Chew on This

Like science and art, exploration is a waste of time in Hitchhiker's Guide—it's better just to stay warm and comfortable.

In Hitchhiker's Guide, we may never find the meaning of life or a really comfortable dress shoe, but the search gives our lives purpose.

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