In the book “Fear and Trembling in Las Vegas”, the author takes his readers through their experience in the chase of the American Dream. He is under the pseudonym of one Raoul Duke who travels with his attorney who is called Dr. Gonzo, from Samoa. Together they arrive in the “Great Red Shark” as this place was always referred to as a gigantic pimped Chevrolet convertible vehicle, and initially land in Las Vegas as a journalist and his attorney in pursuit of a story about a motor race.
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They soon abandon their course and go in pursuit of the elusive American Dream in what Thompson referred to as Gonzo Journalism. With time, however, they get frustrated and gets into a stupor because they start using different sorts of intoxicating substances including alcohol, cocaine and even cannabis.
The two gentlemen arrived in Las Vegas with the trunk of their car so full of different drugs and intoxicating concoctions that one would be reminded of an anti-narcotics forensic laboratory. It had two bags, seventy-five mescaline pellets and five sheets of blotter acid. There was a salt-shake which was actually half full of cocaine powder instead of salt. They also had tequila, rum, Budweiser, raw ether and even amyls.
This dangerous living was actually a distraction from the punishing life in Las Vegas and America in general. Their dream of making it big, aptly put by Duke as “gross physical salute to the fantastic possibilities of life in this country”, this is description statement is able to show that they are terribly shattered when they find out that things are not actually the way they expected.
It is a depiction of the generational restlessness and frustration when things don’t seem to work at all. They also resort to violence with the aim of destroying everything that reminds them of the American capitalism and extravagance. As A puts it (up there), “no one is safe from their comic terror”. They unleashed threats and harassments to chambermaids, tourists and everybody else. They destroyed hotel rooms and stoned vehicles on the streets and even indulged in petty theft.
They escaped the law because they were in Las Vegas at a time when lawlessness was reigning supreme, but the comedy is in the fact that they were robbing and molesting even the poorest and most powerless of all people. In what he called his “chemotherapy chair” or the place he sat regularly when intoxicating himself with drugs, he could reminisce over the situation in Las Vegas – the chaos, lawlessness and poverty and what they portend for the American Dream. This is what made him fearful and loathsome.
Another hilarious part of the book is where the locals were wondering why he was driving around in a Cadillac, to which he responded “you don’t go around chasing the American Dream in a Volkswagen a white Cadillac Convertible and nothing less” a statement exclaimed.
In a nutshell, “fear and loathing in Las Vegas” is a vivid narration and hilarious narration of an adventure induced by consumption of all sorts of drugs. They refer to it as chasing the American Dream, though done in a complete stupor and recklessness. It is also perceived as a separation of reality from fallacy, which is funny because the perceived reality is actually through the eyes of a person in a trance courtesy of the massive intake of different intoxicants.
Thompson argues that if they work the issue in the right way, then they would make it right. This was a statement made as Raoul Duke, agues in favor of the drugs. His argument is to the effect that they can only achieve the American Dream if their search is guided by and conducted under the influence of mescaline tabs, jimson weed, ether and all the other substances they had at their disposal.
Together with his attorney, they invade all the nice hotels in Las Vegas and accumulate huge bills which they actually abandon. They walk out on the pretext of going to cover the Mint 400 and the Conference on Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. Actually a keen observer will notice they are under influence of the same drugs whose conference they are about to attend. The drugs had certain effect on them and their pretence could be easily be detected with no doubt.
Again in their adventures, Thompson shoots away in the desert with a .357 Magnum gun and has an intimate encounter with Lucy whose teeth remind him of a baseball and eyes look like jellied fire. They also witness an overweight policeman and his similarly obese wife, or so they assume, in a public show of sexual activity. The most interesting thing about this scene is that their huge audience includes about 1000 policemen and women. This was a very big number of personalities and was very ironical.
They are engrossed, or so they pretend, in a movie about the dangers of consuming marijuana. This situation is targeted to depict the lawless nature of Las Vegas where anything goes and the public is actually thrilled rather than dismayed or embarrassed. This scene, according to Thompson, can only be tolerable if one is under the influence of some strong substance that will create an illusion in the mind of the user.
Another comic scene is where they ask a waitress whether she can give them directions where to find the American Dream, i.e., if she knows where it is. A lengthy conversation ensues involving the waiter, a short order man and the two guests. The question appears confusing and they begin to ponder whether it is the name of a place, a former discotheque which went by the name “Psychiatrist’s Club”. Its location is on Paradise Avenue in the outskirts of Las Vegas.
There are varied thoughts about the American Dream and whether the duo found it or not. For instance, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt argued that they never did because they actually knew it does not exist right from the word go. On the other hand, it is argued that their run amok lifestyle in Las Vegas was actually the American Dream in their context and they actually lived it.
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Reading the book gives one a feeling of an adventurous spirit and attention to amazements. The illusions of the American Dream are also very hilariously presented, in particular, given that the chase is done under influence of intoxicating drugs.
At the same time, the illusions of the American Dream are expressed in a hilarious way by the author considering the information relayed in the reflection idea presented.