Although Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is, on the surface, a lighthearted and quirky story about a man traveling space, there are some deeper meanings that can be derived from it. One of the most prominent ones is found in the search for the answer to life, the universe, and everything. For my writing part of the application to Honors Seminar, I chose to write about a quote by Socrates: “the only true wisdom is knowing you know nothing.” I wrote extensively about how I love to expand my horizons and learn new things, but I’ve long accepted that no one can know everything there is to know about the universe. However, of course I was curious to hear what the book’s super computer had to say about “the answer,” though I obviously wasn’t hinging all of my questions on Douglas Adams’ fictional answer to the universe. I wasn’t surprised when the computer’s grand answer– forty-two– matched up to the humor in the rest of the novel. Still, this absurd answer led to another realization: they had been looking for the answer so long that nobody had stopped to ask what the question was. I don’t know how much of a point Adams meant to make with this, but it had me thinking. As humans, we often get ahead of ourselves in the pursuit of knowledge, and probably often start looking for an answer before we even know what the question is.
One other point in the book that stuck out to me was really only a couple of lines long. It occurred right after Arthur refused to give his brain to the “mice” for testing. The mice then decide that rather than put in the work necessary to find the question of life, the universe, and everything, they would simply make up a question to match the answer that the computer has given them. Again, I might be reading more into this than Adams wrote into it, but I found it all too easy to relate to large businesses, as well as government, today. Often we see corporations working to make the most money possible or to save their name, which takes a higher priority than the happiness of their employees and consumers. This theme also popped up in Concussion, where a large organization works in their own favor, rather than in the interest of the people they employ. I believe Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was written so that it can be interpreted in multiple different ways, giving each of its readers a unique experience with the book.