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. 22 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 22, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Fear-and-Loathing-in-Las-Vegas/.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas | Quotes

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1.

We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs begin to take hold.


Raoul Duke, Part 1, Chapter 1

The first line of the story in journalism is known as the lede, designed to provide a summation of the events that follow and grab the reader's attention. As a lede, this emphasizes the importance of drugs as part of Duke and Dr. Gonzo's experiences in Las Vegas, as well as the isolation and surreal atmosphere of the desert. Both these elements shape the story that follows.

2.

We're your friends. We're not like the others.


Dr. Gonzo, Part 1, Chapter 1

When Duke and Dr. Gonzo pick up a hitchhiker in the desert, Dr. Gonzo immediately tries to put the kid at ease and establish camaraderie with him. Dr. Gonzo assumes, probably correctly, a kid hitchhiking on the edge of the desert doesn't fit in with mainstream society. As Duke and Dr. Gonzo proceed to terrify the hitchhiker and alienate him, the car ride illustrates how far Duke and Dr. Gonzo fall from the mainstream. They don't fit in with other misfits any more than they do with the mainstream.

3.

I tell you, my man, this is the American dream in action!


Raoul Duke, Part 1, Chapter 2

On a Friday afternoon, Duke and Dr. Gonzo hang around a posh hotel bar waiting for something to happen. Their abrupt change of circumstances speaks to the sense of possibility inherent in the American dream. With the assignment in Las Vegas, Duke and Dr. Gonzo are getting their own piece of the American dream. They get a beautiful car, a wad of cash, and a suite in an expensive hotel, in exchange for doing very little work.

4.

The Circus-Circus is what the whole hep world would be doing on Saturday night if the Nazis had won the war.


Raoul Duke, Part 1, Chapter 6

Duke describes the Circus-Circus casino's gaudy entertainment: trapeze artists, animals, and carnival games. He envisions the excess and homogeneity of Circus-Circus as an example of how fun and games might look in a totalitarian state. People are sucked into the casinos because casinos are what people do in Las Vegas. They don't think about the choice, they just go gamble. This statement is also an allusion to the somewhat totalitarian nature of Las Vegas security and the brutality taking place behind the bright lights and spectacle.

5.

The important thing is to cover this story on its own terms.


Raoul Duke, Part 1, Chapter 7

This realization in the casino at the Mint guides Duke to allow the story to unfold as it will rather than adhering to his magazine assignment to cover the race. The statement expresses a tenet about gonzo journalism, which emphasizes essential truths about society instead of the reporting of facts.

6.

Ignore that nightmare in the bathroom. Just another ugly refugee from the love generation.


Raoul Duke, Part 1, Chapter 8

As Duke hides from Dr. Gonzo and his drug-fueled rage, he realizes Dr. Gonzo's behavior is driven by a deep sense of disillusionment at the world unfolding around him. The idealism of peace and harmony that defined the "love generation" of the 1960s has given way to repression and cynicism in the 1970s. Dr. Gonzo and Duke cope by altering their reality with drugs and acting out in chaotic ways.

7.

There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning.


Raoul Duke, Part 1, Chapter 8

Duke describes the sense of hope and change that defined the counterculture movement in the 1960s in San Francisco. The sense at the time allowed them to believe their positive energy would supplant the old prejudices and conventions that impeded personal freedom and pursuit of happiness for everyone.

8.

Against that heinous background, my crimes were pale and meaningless.


Raoul Duke, Part 1, Chapter 9

Duke is about to run out on a massive hotel bill in Las Vegas. He is fearful of being caught and what will happen to him if he is. He sees newspaper headlines describing war and murder and decides his heavy substance use and the fraud he is about to commit is relatively minor compared to the evils other people and his own government commit without thinking about it.

9.

In Las Vegas they kill the weak and deranged.


Raoul Duke, Part 2, Chapter 2

For all its appearance of fun and games, with glitzy entertainment and fabulous spectacle, Las Vegas is an insular society that follows and enforces specific rules designed to keep high rollers happy and gambling at the tables. Any possible disturbance of the underlying order in Las Vegas is dealt with quickly and severely.

10.

I was trying to help her.


Dr. Gonzo, Part 2, Chapter 3

Dr. Gonzo provides a weak defense for giving Lucy, a teenage runaway from Montana, LSD and seducing her. Dr. Gonzo's idea of helping Lucy is to remove her from the religious and moral codes that constrict her life, but Lucy isn't ready to let go of her core beliefs. Dr. Gonzo may feel repressed by strict social norms, but Lucy feels comfortable with them. By trying to "help" her, he causes her more harm than if he had left her alone.

11.

Know them? Are you kidding? Man, I know these people in my goddamn blood!


Dr. Gonzo, Part 2, Chapter 6

Dr. Gonzo feels angry and anxious around the law enforcement officers attending the district attorneys' conference. He feels resentment toward their oppressive rules because he has been fighting against them for much of his life and career as a defense attorney. He already knows as much about these people as he cares to learn, and he doesn't think getting to know them better will change his opinion of their deeds.

12.

People like Sinatra and Dean Martin are still considered "far out" in Vegas.


Raoul Duke, Part 2, Chapter 8

Duke comes from the counterculture of the 1960s, one of free love, drugs, and rock music, and finds the culture of Las Vegas stuck in the morals and aesthetics of the 1950s. Counterculture never caught on in this place that still revers 1950s entertainment icons like Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. These are mainstream white male singers whose music offers no edge, unlike the rock artists of the 1960s. Duke illustrates Las Vegas's conservatism by saying these conventional entertainers are what Las Vegas considers edgy.

13.

We're looking for the American dream, and we were told it was somewhere in this area.


Dr. Gonzo, Part 2, Chapter 9

At a taco stand, the employees misunderstand the American dream as a location to comic effect, but the misunderstanding begins with Dr. Gonzo's presenting the American dream as if it is a location or something tangible that can be found. This contrast between Dr. Gonzo's words and his intended meaning emphasizes the opposite truth about the American dream. It is nebulous and elusive, not something easily pinned down.

14.

After five days in Vegas you feel like you've been here for five years.


Raoul Duke, Part 2, Chapter 12

At the end of his adventures in Las Vegas, Duke expresses a sense of deep exhaustion. Las Vegas is supposed to be a playground of sorts, full of entertainment spectacles, games, and people letting loose from their workaday lives. The pressures of following strict social rules, even in this atmosphere that seems to facilitate fun, and the fear of losing or getting caught, makes a short visit tiring. Las Vegas is fun, but it's a very specific kind of fun that takes place within defined parameters. The spectacle becomes monotonous, and the inherently conservative atmosphere, suffocating.

15.

Journalism is not a profession or trade. It is a cheap catchall for fuckoffs and misfits.


Raoul Duke, Part 2, Chapter 13

Duke expresses frustration and loathing for his chosen profession. He is as much a misfit as any reporter in existence, and he doesn't exclude himself from his assessment. He dismisses straight journalism as a worthless pursuit after reading a lurid story in the newspaper. The story is fact-based reporting, which indicates a need for something different to get at the truth, hence his experimentation with gonzo journalism.

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