Social Concerns / Themes

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas attacks the tawdry, oppressive manifestation of greed and materialism in the microcosm of Las Vegas. Outrage is the response of the narrator, an outrage that is fueled by a steady ingestion of drugs and alcohol, as though intoxication were the only possible response to the horrors of corruption and ignorance. Horatio Alger is invoked several times, mockingly, and it is Alger's dream of success, distorted in the neon glitter of the casinos, that Thompson explores.

Illegal drugs play a major part in stoking the narrator's shock and horror. A significant implication is that contraband substances are no more harmful or debilitating than the routines of contemporary life that make grotesqueries of nearly everyone. The reader is reminded occasionally of events outside Las Vegas which create a "heinous background" for this nightmare, such as the Manson murders, the invasion of Laos, atrocities in Vietnam, and random violence in the cities.

(The entire section is 155 words.)