Study Guide

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

by Douglas Adams

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Summary

Summary (Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is the first book of the five-volume series (which Adams humorously called a “trilogy”) based on Adams’s successful radio series of the same name. An immediate best seller, it has remained popular for more than a quarter century.

In a quiet suburb of London, Arthur Dent is minding his own business when his morning is interrupted by bulldozers and wrecking machines coming to destroy his house. The home, which blocks the path of a new bypass, is slated to be torn down. Things go from bad to worse when Arthur’s friend, Ford Prefect, who has drunk too much at the nearest bar, enlightens Arthur about the imminent destruction of Earth. Ships from the Vogon Constructor Fleet surround the planet, commissioned to destroy it to make way for the new hyperspace express bypass, whose path Earth is blocking. Soon Arthur’s house, along with the rest of the planet, is drifting through space in tiny particles of recently vaporized matter.

Fortunately for Arthur, Ford turns out to be an experienced intergalactic hitchhiker who manages to smuggle the two of them aboard a Vogon craft moments before the end of the Earth. As punishment for their hitchhiking, the Vogons submit the stowaways to the torture of listening to poetry—Vogon poetry is widely regarded as the universe’s worst. When the hitchhikers miraculously survive this death sentence, the Vogons eject them into outer space to a more certain death by asphyxiation.

During the painful poetry reading, Zaphod Beeblebrox, president of the Imperial Galactic...

(The entire section is 649 words.)

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Overview

Moments before the earth is demolished to make way for a "hyperspacial express route," Arthur Dent is rescued by Ford Prefect, an alien who...

(The entire section is 90 words.)

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Summary

Hitchhiking was very common in the 1970s. Pictured here, a hitchhiker headed for Big Sur in 1972. Published by Gale Cengage

Earth
As The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy opens, Arthur Dent wakes to discover bulldozers ready to tear...

(The entire section is 1293 words.)