Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas | Study Guide

Hunter S. Thompson

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Course Hero. "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Study Guide." Course Hero. 26 Sep. 2017. Web. 14 Dec. 2018. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Fear-and-Loathing-in-Las-Vegas/>.

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Course Hero. "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Study Guide." September 26, 2017. Accessed December 14, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Fear-and-Loathing-in-Las-Vegas/.

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Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas | Part 1, Chapter 11 : Aaawww, Mama, Can This Really Be the End ... Down and Out in Vegas with Amphetamine Psychosis Again | Summary

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Summary

Duke visits "Wild Bill's Café" on the outskirts of town to consider his options over a beer. He fears getting the conspicuous red car, "so full of felonies that I'm afraid to even look at it" across the 300 desert miles to Los Angeles. Duke hears Bob Dylan's "Memphis Blues" in his head and is outraged that some "rat-bastard psychotic" is playing "Bridge over Troubled Water" on the jukebox.

Duke realizes he and Dr. Gonzo are checked in at the Mint until noon, which gives him two hours before he's technically a criminal. He wonders what the FBI will make of the 600 bars of Neutrogena soap. He is sure the maid will claim they were forced to hand over "all their soap" under threat.

Duke says a prayer, asking for a few more hours to get out of the desert and rid of the car. He blames the magazine in New York for this mess and concludes his prayer by threatening God "you're going to have me on your hands."

Analysis

For all his rule-breaking, Duke is keenly aware of the consequences of his actions. He doesn't feel guilt for anything he's done so much as he worries about the practical matter of getting caught and sent to prison. The open road is a longstanding symbol of American freedom, the American dream, but now he fears the highway because it leaves him vulnerable to apprehension and punishment. Contemplation of this harrowing journey stands in sharp contrast with the possibility and enthusiasm for the trip in Part 1, Chapter 1, when Duke and Dr. Gonzo cruised to Las Vegas, deeply intoxicated, without a care in the world.

Duke hears music in his head that he can relate to. The Bob Dylan song is about finding himself down and out in a strange town, just as Duke is down and out right now. The song carries a marginally upbeat tempo that reflects the mild urgency of the situation. Simon and Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water" is soothing in tone and tempo, with the feel of a religious hymn. The song's content and melody are so incongruous to Duke's situation, Duke blames a "rat-bastard psychotic" for putting it on the jukebox. However, Duke could be the psychotic in question, since his next move is to pray, the last act of a desperate man. There is no evidence in the rest of the novel of Duke's being a particularly religious man. Based on interviews, Thompson seems ambivalent about religion as well. At this low point, Duke is willing to try anything, including threatening a god he may not believe in and with the certainty that God won't want to have to deal with him in person.

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