Part 1, Chapter 3 Summary
In Chapter 3, the narrative returns to the present. Thompson is upset that their passenger, the hitchhiker, has never been in a convertible. Thompson is briefly tempted to have his attorney legally give the boy the car, but he eventually decides against doing so. Thompson thinks that he might need the car in case anyone is foolish enough to challenge him to a drag race. He loves the thought of dying in a car. The notion seems to him very "American."
Thompson considers their journey to be the embodiment of the American dream. It is, he reasons, “a classic affirmation of everything right and true and decent in the national character.” He thinks, with some amazement, of the “fantastic possibilities” for people who possess “true grit.”
Thompson is pulled from his reverie when the Chevy suddenly veers off the road. The attorney is clutching his chest and screaming about his heart. The hitchhiker is horrified, but Thompson tells him not to worry: some "medicine" will help the attorney. Thompson pops a capsule of amyl nitrite, and his attorney deeply inhales the drug, quickly and loudly demanding more.
Thompson informs the hitchhiker of their plans to cover the race in Vegas. The attorney interrupts and says that Thompson’s story is not true. The real reason for their journey, he loudly confides, is that they are going to Las Vegas to kill a man named Savage Henry.
Thompson and his attorney dissolve into hysterical laughter. The attorney’s violent descriptions of what will happen to Savage Henry when they find him become increasingly more graphic. Finally, the hitchhiker has had enough. He works up the courage to scramble over the backseat and slides down the trunk, calling out as he runs away that he appreciated the ride. Thompson offers him a beer, but the boy keeps running and pretends not to hear.
The attorney is glad the hitchhiker has gone. The two decide that now would be a perfect...
(The entire section is 597 words.)