The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

by

Douglas Adams

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The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Chapter 23 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
“It is an important and popular fact that things are not always what they seem,” notes Adams. Humans, for instance, have assumed for centuries that they’re the most intelligent beings on Earth, but this was never true. In fact, dolphins were smarter, and “had long known of the impending destruction of the planet.” In fact, the dolphins even tried to warn humankind of the danger, “but most of their communications were misinterpreted as amusing attempts to punch footballs or whistle for tidbits, so they eventually gave up and left the Earth by their own means.” Apparently, there was only one other species that was smarter than the dolphins, “and they spent a lot of their time in behavioral research laboratories running round inside wheels and conducting frighteningly elegant and subtle experiments on man. The fact that once again man completely misinterpreted this relationship was entirely according to these creatures’ plans.”
Although this section may seem a bit random given the fact that it doesn’t have much to do with what’s currently happening to Arthur or Zaphod, Ford, and Trillian, the idea that “things are not always what they seem” is a useful lens through which to examine the novel. Indeed, this is a story that draws heavily from the notion that life is full of the unexpected and the unpredictable. The fact that dolphins and a certain kind of lab animal are smarter than humans proves this point, reminding readers to move through The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy with an open mind, ready to reconsider even the most absurd notions.
Themes
Improbability, Impossibility, and Absurdity Theme Icon
Knowledge and Exploration Theme Icon