After listening to Slartibartfast tell him this story about Deep Thought, Arthur admits he doesn’t understand what the tale has to do with Earth. Slartibartfast tells him that this is because he hasn’t heard the whole story, then invites him to his office, where he plays him a recording of the “great day of the Answer,” which was documented on a Sens-O-Tape 7,500,000 years after Lunkwill and Fook asked Deep Thought about the meaning of “Life, the Universe and Everything.” Slartibartfast hands Arthur two wires, which transport the earthling into a virtual world, where he can watch the recorded proceedings. Hovering above the scene, Arthur observes two hyperintelligent pandimensional beings address a large crowd. “Never again will we wake up in the morning and think Who am I? What is My purpose in Life?” yells one of them, and the crowd goes wild with applause.
Once again, Adams shows that humans aren’t the only living beings tormented by existential questions. Even these “hyperintelligent pandimensional beings” ask questions like “Who am I?” and “What is my purpose in life?” Interestingly enough, though, what these hyperintelligent beings don’t consider is that questions like these are highly specific to each individual. The question Deep Thought is about to answer has to do with “Life, the Universe and Everything,” meaning that it probably won’t solve the specific existential quandaries that people pose to themselves in moments of individual uncertainty. Nonetheless, the crowd is still eager to hear Deep Thought’s response.
Using the Sens-O-Tape, Arthur drifts into a room where two men named Loonquawl and Pouchg address Deep Thought as it rouses itself to provide an answer to the question of “Life, the Universe, and Everything.” Deep Thought confirms that it has found this answer, adding, “Though I don’t think that you’re going to like it.” After awkwardly deflecting Loonquawl and Pouchg’s enthusiasm and stalling for a moment, Deep Thought finally delivers the highly sought-after answer. “Forty-two,” it says.
Deep Thought’s answer to the meaning of “Life, the Universe and Everything” is so simple that it is—in a way—extremely complicated. Not only does this numerical answer have little to do with each person’s individual uncertainties, but it doesn’t even relate in any discernable way to the original question. In turn, Adams pokes fun at the desire to interrogate such profound ideas, subtly suggesting that people ought to simply live and appreciate their lives without worrying so much about essentially unanswerable questions.