For the briefest of moments in the Hitchhikers Story, Arthur finds happiness and love. It wouldn’t last but it has been earned. This story more than any other gets into the head of Arthur and tells us what makes him tick (or fuck as the case may be).
What we learn is Arthur is an ordinary man who yearns for the boring consistency of normal life, but has now been so infected by the extraordinary that he can’t escape it.
There is a moment in the book that sets Arthurs fate (to come) in progress. A small moment where Fenchurch admits she has read the guide and wants to see the universe. Arthur could stand his ground and say – no more, I am done. Yet he is trapped. He is in love in a way he never imagined possible and in his mind to stand here would risk true happiness.
Which is what has generally gotten Arthur into so much trouble. At each point where he can act, he lets circumstance roll over him in the way the steamroller threatened right back at the beginning of this journey.
In may ways that steamroller is a great metaphor. You can ignore it, try to trick it but so long as you are in its path, you will be squashed. Of course, you can just let it pass and accept what it brings.
Arthur never embraces that truth and so he is forever fated for the universe to dick with him.
Each of the Hitchhikers stories feels as though they are from a completely different sub-genre. The first a buddy road trip, the second a hero’s journey, the third a sporting story, the fourth a romance and the fifth a dystopian horror ala the running man.
In the hands of Sir Terry Pratchett, such twists and turns become world building, in the case of Douglas I suspect it was less clearly planned. In truth Douglas and Sir Terry are much the same beast using satire to make observations about the world at large. Sir Terry embraced that reality, made it his mission and channeled it.
Douglas, like Arthur fought it to the end. Douglas was never one to let the universe dictate to him.