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. 16 Dec. 2018. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Fear-and-Loathing-in-Las-Vegas/>.

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Course Hero. (2017, September 26). Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved December 16, 2018, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Fear-and-Loathing-in-Las-Vegas/

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(Course Hero, 2017)



Course Hero. "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Study Guide." September 26, 2017. Accessed December 16, 2018. 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 December 16, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Fear-and-Loathing-in-Las-Vegas/.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas | Plot Summary

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Part 1

Raoul Duke and his lawyer Dr. Gonzo get a phone call while drinking on the patio of the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel. A New York sports magazine wants Duke to cover the Mint 400, a motorcycle and dune buggy race in the desert outside Las Vegas. Duke and Dr. Gonzo rent a red Chevrolet convertible they dub the "Great Red Shark" and depart with an enormous cache of assorted drugs and alcohol. They sample most of their stash en route. Their erratic behavior frightens a hitchhiker they pick up, and he flees the car in the middle of the desert.

At the Mint hotel in downtown Las Vegas, Duke and Dr. Gonzo hallucinate throughout their check-in process. They go out to the Mint Gun Club, site of the race, and are put off by a surly clerk. They proceed to the Desert Inn, where they scam their way into a Debbie Reynolds show and are quickly removed from the premises. Now high on ether and mescaline, they go on to the Circus-Circus casino. They have a few drinks but find the atmosphere grotesque. They return to the hotel where Dr. Gonzo takes a bath and insists Duke throw a radio into the water with him. He becomes enraged when Duke unplugs the radio before throwing it into the water. Duke locks Dr. Gonzo in the bathroom and spends the night reflecting on his experiences in the 1960s.

The Mint 400 is difficult to cover because the cycles kick up so much dust. Duke spends most of the day drinking at the Mint Gun Club. A few days after the race, Dr. Gonzo flies back to Los Angeles, leaving Duke with the anxious experience of escaping the Mint without paying for the room or their enormous room-service bill. Duke gets a telegram from Dr. Gonzo as he leaves, instructing Duke to go to the Flamingo hotel on the Las Vegas Strip to cover the National District Attorneys' Conference. Duke decides to leave town instead, but he returns to Las Vegas after being stopped for drunk driving in the desert and seeing the hitchhiker again.

Part 2

When Duke arrives at the Flamingo hotel, he appears at his suite to find Dr. Gonzo with a young woman named Lucy, a teenage runaway from Montana he met on the plane. Dr. Gonzo discovers Lucy is highly religious, but only after he has given her LSD and had sex with her. Duke decides they need to get away from her before she comes to her senses and accuses them both of rape. She has come to Las Vegas to meet Barbra Streisand, who is scheduled to perform at the Americana hotel, so they take her there and hope she forgets them. She doesn't and calls their room at the Flamingo, but Duke tells her Dr. Gonzo passed a bad check in her name at the Flamingo before skipping town. He convinces her it is dangerous for her to come to the Flamingo or contact them again and promises to get in touch with her when it is safe.

Duke and Dr. Gonzo pose as law enforcement officers to attend the District Attorneys' conference. They attend the keynote speech, which gets most facts about drug culture wrong. They also make up lurid stories about the drug scene in California to scare other conference attendees. Late one night they go to North Las Vegas, where Dr. Gonzo gives an intimidating note to a waitress in a coffee shop and scares her badly.

Throughout their journey, Duke and Dr. Gonzo search for the American dream. They find a taco stand near Boulder City, a small town outside Las Vegas. The taco stand staff misunderstand and think they are looking for a nightclub that has changed names. They send Dr. Gonzo and Duke back into Las Vegas to a place on Paradise Boulevard, where they find the nightclub burned down several years before.

At the end of the conference, Duke takes Dr. Gonzo to the airport. Dr. Gonzo is frantically worried he will miss his plane when they get misdirected. Duke drives their rental car—they traded the red Chevy for a white Cadillac—across the median strip and the field by the runway to deliver Dr. Gonzo to his flight on time. The car is nearly destroyed in the process. The next day, when Duke returns the car, he refuses to answer the rental clerk's questions, blaming the damage on a nebulous "they." He catches a flight to Colorado and buys some amyl nitrate in the airport when he lands.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Plot Diagram

Falling ActionRising ActionResolutionClimax123456789101112Introduction


1 Duke and Dr. Gonzo scare a hitchhiker going to Las Vegas.

Rising Action

2 Duke and Dr. Gonzo visit a few casinos while high.

3 Duke and Dr. Gonzo run up a huge bill at the Mint Hotel.

4 Dr. Gonzo leaves Duke to escape the hotel bill alone.

5 Duke leaves town but returns for a law-enforcement conference.

6 Duke finds Dr. Gonzo with Lucy in their suite.

7 Duke and Dr. Gonzo leave Lucy at a different hotel.

8 Duke and Dr. Gonzo get directions to the American dream.


9 The directions send Duke and Dr. Gonzo to a burned-out club.

Falling Action

10 Duke trashes the rental car getting Dr. Gonzo to his plane.

11 Duke tries to buy an ape from someone in a casino.


12 Duke flies back to Colorado and buys more drugs.

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