Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas | Study Guide

Hunter S. Thompson

Download a PDF to print or study offline.

Study Guide
Cite This Study Guide

How to Cite This Study Guide

quotation mark graphic


Course Hero. "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Study Guide." Course Hero. 26 Sep. 2017. Web. 21 Jan. 2019. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Fear-and-Loathing-in-Las-Vegas/>.

In text

(Course Hero)



Course Hero. (2017, September 26). Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved January 21, 2019, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Fear-and-Loathing-in-Las-Vegas/

In text

(Course Hero, 2017)



Course Hero. "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Study Guide." September 26, 2017. Accessed January 21, 2019. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Fear-and-Loathing-in-Las-Vegas/.


Course Hero, "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Study Guide," September 26, 2017, accessed January 21, 2019, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Fear-and-Loathing-in-Las-Vegas/.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas | Part 1, Chapter 4 : Hideous Music and the Sound of Many Shotguns ... Rude Vibes on a Saturday Evening in Vegas | Summary



At the press table, Duke makes a scene, "waving that goddamn marlin spike around and yelling about reptiles." Dr. Gonzo covers by saying Duke is drunk and collects the press passes. The experience leads Dr. Gonzo to order four club sandwiches, four shrimp cocktails, nine grapefruits, and a bottle of rum from room service. He takes some mescaline, smokes some hash, and calls for the car so they can go out.

Shortly after they leave the hotel, Dr. Gonzo goes into a "drug coma," forcing Duke to drive. They go to the Mint Gun Club where people are shooting shotguns, and bikes are checking in for the race. Duke attempts to enter the race, saying he has a Vincent Black Shadow. The desk-man doesn't respond. Dr. Gonzo, emerging from his stupor, tries to protest, but Duke leads him away, saying "We're the only people out here without guns." In the car, Dr. Gonzo says, "How did we get mixed up with that gang of psychotic bigots? Those scumbags were trying to kill us!"


Duke's scene at the press table illustrates some of the rules that govern Las Vegas. People are encouraged to cut loose and behave strangely—Duke points out in Part 1, Chapter 3, how addicts are rarely noticed in a city full of freaks. However, there are strictly confined limits to the expression of such freakiness. It is okay for Duke to wave a marlin spike around and yell about reptiles if he is drunk. Drinking is acceptable and encouraged in Las Vegas because it facilitates gambling. It is not okay for him to yell and brandish a taxidermic part of a sea creature if he is on LSD because LSD is illegal and the hallucinations might cause him to distract others from gambling.

Dr. Gonzo partakes in some of the projection and flawed judgment that have marked his interactions with other people in previous chapters. The clerk at the Mint Gun Club is an unpleasant man, but neither he nor Duke interact with anyone else there. Dr. Gonzo has a .357 Magnum back at the hotel, which he brandishes at Duke in Part 1, Chapter 3, so he doesn't object to guns. No one says anything to Dr. Gonzo that indicates racial prejudice, but Dr. Gonzo decides they are "psychotic bigots" anyway. As a Samoan Dr. Gonzo has experienced prejudice in his time. Later in the book the reader will see that prejudice firsthand as well, as people use the racial epithet "spic" to describe him. Since Dr. Gonzo is a Pacific Islander, this offensive term for "Hispanic" lacks accuracy, but Dr. Gonzo's real-life counterpart Oscar Acosta was Latino. It makes sense that he would view the clerk's reluctance to enter the Vincent Black Shadow in the race through the lens of the prejudice he has experienced for a lifetime.

The irony of this situation is the Vincent Black Shadow in their possession appears to be entirely fictional, although the Vincent Black Shadow is a real motorcycle. They are custom built and expensive heavy cycles, completely inappropriate for racing in the desert, as Duke later concedes in Part 1, Chapter 5. Duke and Dr. Gonzo contemplate purchasing a Vincent Black Shadow for the race in Part 1, Chapter 2, but the magazine's press office gives them $300 cash instead, not enough to purchase such a bike. The journey to Las Vegas presents no evidence of the duo's traveling with a motorcycle, either. The references to the Vincent Black Shadow seem to be an instrument of intimidation for Dr. Gonzo, since he doesn't have one but seems to think the mention of the bike will garner respect.

Cite This Study Guide

information icon Have study documents to share about Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access!