Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas | Study Guide

Hunter S. Thompson

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Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas | Part 2, Chapter 11 : Fraud? Larceny? Rape? ... A Brutal Connection with the Alice from Linen Service | Summary

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Summary

Duke pulls into the Flamingo parking lot, thinking about how they might beat potential charges brought against them. Duke reminds himself he never touched Lucy. The hotel charges could be settled. Duke thinks the magazine and its parent company could drag the hotels into a lawsuit. He imagines fleeing to Colombia and hiding among a tribe of headhunters to evade the hotels.

Duke considers the 1960s again and decides Timothy Leary and his followers deserve their disillusionment. He thinks Leary and "Acid Culture" have created a generation of "failed seekers" who can't let go of the belief that "somebody ... is tending that Light at the end of the tunnel."

Duke surveys the wreckage that used to be his suite in the Flamingo. He remembers a confrontation with the maid a few days before. She finds Dr. Gonzo in the closet. He is naked and vomiting into his shoes. She screams, and Duke wakes to find his attorney wrestling with an old woman on the floor. To protect themselves, Duke and Dr. Gonzo convince her they are part of an undercover operation. They recruit her into this fictional operation, saying someone will contact her in a week and she will be paid $1,000 a week for any information she can provide. They tell her she shouldn't mention this to anyone and tell her it's best for her to ignore them and the room until they leave the conference. She apologizes for the incident and smiles as she leaves the room.

Analysis

Duke blames the failure of hippie culture to deliver the love, harmony, and higher consciousness it promised and for bringing forth the desperate "doom-struck era of Nixon." Because the 1960s counterculture, led by people like Leary, stopped before it had effected substantial change in American culture, the counterculture set up a political swing toward Nixon's conservatism. Duke mentions events that he now reads as signs a backlash against the peace and love of the hippie movement was brewing all along. He references the riot at the Altamont music festival as an indication of the deeper conflict within 1960s counterculture between upper- and middle-class student activist types and working-class bikers and dropouts. The failure of most of hippie culture to recognize and embrace these other elements leads to violent incidents such as Altamont, which adds momentum to the backlash. Like so many former idealists, Duke has embraced a cynical view. His statement implies he does not, in fact, believe anyone is tending the light at the end of the tunnel.

Duke's suite at the Flamingo provides a physical reflection of the wreckage of the dreams of the 1960s. The space is covered with broken glass and food. They have replaced the lightbulbs with red and blue Christmas lights, which provide a half-hearted psychedelic appearance. A lot of this carnage results from Duke and Dr. Gonzo's violent encounter with Alice from housekeeping. To explain themselves, they have to create an elaborate ruse about an undercover investigation. Alice is willing to help them once money is mentioned. Even though it's a fictional job, Alice doesn't know this, and her eagerness to spy on other guests and report what she sees—without knowing what will be done with this information or whom it will affect—confirms Duke's fears of fascism taking hold in the United States. Even a housekeeper will sell out strangers for the right price. This is the culture the failed experiment of the 1960s has wrought.

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