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Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Novel Unit

Guiding Questions:

  1. How does science fiction reflect the hopes, dreams, and fears of mankind?
  2. What is the meaning and purpose of sentient existence?

Prior to reading The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, I will introduce my students to the concept of parody and of science fiction.

I begin with two quotes, each similar in significance but different in style. Chronologically, they were spoken almost a millennium apart, but serve as evidence for the continued importance of questioning to all orders of higher education.

“The first key to wisdom is constant questioning…by doubting we are led to inquiry, and by inquiry we discern the truth.” -Peter Abeland (1079-1142)

“It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers.” -James Thurber (1894-1961)


RL 12.3. Analyze the impact of the author’s choices regarding how to develop and relate elements of a story or drama (e.g., where a story is set, how the action is ordered, how the characters are introduced and developed).

RL 12.4. Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including words with multiple meanings or language that is particularly fresh, engaging, or beautiful.

RL 12.5. Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure specific parts of a text (e.g., the choice of where to begin or end a story, the choice to provide a comedic or tragic resolution) contribute to its overall structure and meaning as well as its aesthetic impact.

RL 12.6 Analyze a case in which grasping a point of view requires distinguishing what is directly stated in a text from what is really meant (e.g., satire, sarcasm, irony, or understatement).

Use of humor: gallows, epigrammatic, irony, satire, deadpan, farcical, sarcasm – use padlet to have students post examples?

  1. Gallows Humor – grim and ironic humor in a desperate or hopeless situation.
  2. Epigrammatic Humor – Short, quotable humor that emphasizes brevity, expressed in one- or two-liners, often disguised as a philosophical observation.
  3. Deadpan Humor – Exaggerated calmness and understatement inappropriate to the topic. Overlaps with dry humor and dark humor.
  1. Sarcasm: Humor with an attitude, used to tease, humiliate, and manipulate people. Overlaps with irony and tongue-in-cheek.
  2. Irony: Humor based on deliberate or accidental incongruity.
  3. Farce: Characters get themselves into unlikely or exaggerated scenarios and have to think their way out, becoming increasingly ridiculous along the way. Farce can be more intellectual or less intellectual.
  4. Satire: Deliberate humorous exaggerations actual events or human nature.

Pacing for Novel:

Radio Broadcast of episodes:




1. Have the students visit the website for The Publishing Law Center and view just what a parody is in the legal terms and how it is used in print.

Have the students visit the following advertising parody websites and decide which examples they consider to be good parodies.

What is a parody?

Homework: Have the students create their own parody of an advertisement. Bring in the original advertisement as comparison.


2. Science Fiction presentation

Parody and Science Fiction

Present and discuss parody


Science Fiction Intro

3. Prologue and Ch. 1

pp. 1-19

Setting and Exposition

Theme – Absurdity

Before reading, have students in groups of 4, decide what they will bring with them if the world is going to blow up. See problematic situation handout.

Problematic Situation

Chapter Questions – I used and padlet to have students answer in groups.

Hitchhiker Ch.Questions

4. Ch. 2, 3, and 4

pp. 20-44

Summarizing Main Idea

POV and narration

Irony and Satire

Irony/Satire Handout

Irony and Satire in the Introduction

Chapter Questions on padlet or thinkboard

5. Ch.1-3 audio vs video

Comparing textual formats



*Video can also be found on youtube

Compare reading with audio version and complete handout

HHGTTG Text to Audio Comparison

6. Ch.5-8

*Babel Fish, Vogon Poetry, timely rescue

pp. 45-78

Imagery and Fig Lang

Theme: Language and Communication

Figurative Language Handout

HHG to the Figurative Language Prewriting

Chapter Questions

Homework: Create your own Vogon poem. Make it as bad as you like, but be able to recite it and convey emotion so that classmates can determine its meaning.

7. Student Vogon poetry

Poetry and Language

Share Vogon poetry and discuss what makes poetry and what Adams is saying about poetry

8. Ch.9-12

pp. 79-103


Create a social media profile for a character in the novel:

9. Ch.13-17

*Petunias and Whales

pp. 104-131

Irony, Inference, and personification

Theme: Absurdity

Satire Handout

HHG to the Satire Prewriting

10. Ch.18-21

*Don’t Panic

pp. 132-150

Epigrammtic humor, motif, and symbolism

Make a comic without words – see During Reading Handout – use motif and symbols from novel –

Hitchhiker Comic

Alternative – create animated version:

11. Ch.22-26

*Setting suns

pp. 151-175

Gallows humor, conflict


Chapter Questions

12. Essay

Meaning of life handout from Ch.25

Meaning of Life Essay

13. Ch.27-29

*The Answer

pp. 176-191

Situational humor, theme


Discuss the impact of Deep Thought, a computer used for philosophical thinking. What would be the implications of something like this existing? Do we already give too much power to computers? What is the possibility that we will lose the ability to do rational thinking at some point?

14. Ch.30-32

*The Question

pp. 192-208

Euphemism, situational humor, climax

Art and Culture


Chapter Questions

15. Ch.33-35

pp. 209-216




Discussion group jigsaw

Hitchhiker End of Novel Discussion Questions

16. Play the game

Hitchhiker’s Game:

17. Project – PBL

Oral Presentation