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. 25 Sep. 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 September 25, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Fear-and-Loathing-in-Las-Vegas/.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas | Part 1, Chapter 7 : Paranoid Terror ... and the Awful Specter of Sodomy ... a Flashing of Knives and Green Water | Summary

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Summary

When they return from the Strip, Duke parks the car on the street near the Mint. They fumble with the room key, which leads Dr. Gonzo to think the locks have been changed and the room searched. He is convinced Lacerda is "dangerous." He is also convinced Lacerda has stolen his woman. This woman is with a film crew covering the race. Dr. Gonzo hit on her in the elevator earlier in the day, before threatening to "cut" the other passengers and forcing Duke to hustle him back to their room. Dr. Gonzo says, "... that girl understood. She fell in love with me." Now he wants revenge on Lacerda for taking her. Duke sends Dr. Gonzo off to take a bath while he goes down to the casino. There he sees a lot of people still at the tables at 4:30 on a Sunday morning. He also sees the Life reporter calling in his story from a phone booth.

When Duke returns to the room, Dr. Gonzo is lounging in the tub in water green from gift-shop bath salts. He demands Duke play "White Rabbit" on the radio/cassette player, also from the gift shop, and threatens Duke with a hunting knife. He wants Duke to throw the radio into the tub at the song's peak. Duke complies, but unplugs the radio before throwing it into the water, which enrages Dr. Gonzo. Duke gives him some pills to calm down and sends him back to the bathtub. Duke braces the door with a chair and tries to "drown out everything strange" with white noise from TV static.

Analysis

Dr. Gonzo's fear and paranoia, which begins to take hold at the Circus-Circus in Part 1, Chapter 6, comes to a head when they return to their room at the Mint. Their struggle with the key leads them them to falsely believe a scenario in which the room has been searched, the locks have been changed, and arrest is imminent. Lacerda, a photographer just trying to do his job for the magazine, becomes a dangerous force who might give them over to the authorities. Adding to this paranoia, Dr. Gonzo has constructed an elaborate fantasy about a woman he met briefly in the elevator. He has no empirical basis for his conclusion the woman is in love with him. The evidence in Duke's recounting of their time in the elevator indicates a profound disinterest on her part. Dr. Gonzo has entered a place divorced from objective reality.

Were there any doubt his separation from reality is absolute, Dr. Gonzo ignores the laws of physics and demands Duke throw an electrical appliance into the bathtub with him. He fixates on "White Rabbit," a 1960s anthem by Jefferson Airplane celebrating psychedelic drug use. In the following chapter, Duke will call Dr. Gonzo a refugee from the 1960s who can't cope. Here Dr. Gonzo's determination to cling to the 1960s aesthetic and ideals is on full display. He doesn't want to die from electrocution, he just suffers from a misguided notion telling him the electrical current will intensify his high. The risk with drug use as heavy as Dr. Gonzo's is the desire to climb ever higher, even when the ladder is at an end.

Duke's observation of the casino at 4:30 in the morning provides another glimpse of the seedy side of Las Vegas and the decline of the American dream. The gamblers at the tables this time of morning—many more than might reasonably be expected—reveals a desperation to win at whatever sacrifice. These early-morning gamblers have been lulled into a stupor at the tables by drink and the promise of a big payoff that will never come. More likely they will end up like Duke's neighbor from Part 1, Chapter 6, who lost more than everything he had pursuing the hollow dream of striking it rich in the casino. Las Vegas, and the American dream by proxy, offer the world but often deliver suffering and anguish.

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