Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Metaphors and Similes

The Hitchhiker's Face (Metaphor)

"The boy's face was a mask of pure fear and bewilderment" (6).

Here, Thompson uses "mask" as a metaphor for the boy's expression; this particular word emphasizes the superficiality of which Duke often accuses the general American public.

The Strange Torpedo (Metaphor)

"We'd be fools not to ride this strange torpedo all the way out to the end" (11).

Here, Duke uses the phrase "ride this torpedo" when describing the unpredictable and uncontrollable nature of the journey that he and his attorney are about to undertake. The word "torpedo" also invokes the violent imagery of the Vietnam War that appears throughout the novel and foreshadows a potentially explosive conclusion.

The Eyes of the Law (Metaphor)

"My legal/hotel checkout time is not until noon, which gives me at least two hours of legitimate high-speed driving to get out of this goddamn state before I become a fugitive in the eyes of the law" (85).

The "eyes of the law" is a popular metaphor that means "from the viewpoint of the law." Here, it allows Duke to distance himself from the wrongdoing of which he could be accused; he does not see himself as a dangerous criminal although a police officer certainly would. This metaphor also signifies Duke's general distrust of authority.

Lucy's Portrait (Simile)

"Lucy...was doing a charcoal sketch of Barbra Streisand. From memory this time. It was a full-faced rendering, with teeth like baseballs and eyes like jellied fire" (116).

Here, Thompson uses a rather grotesque simile to express the effects of psychedelics on Lucy's mind and therefore, her normally traditional style of portraiture.

Assistant DA from Chicago (Simile)

"An assistant DA from Chicago wore a light-tan sleeveless knit suit: his lady was the star of the Dunes casino; she flashed through the place like Grace Slick at a Finch College class reunion. They were a classic couple; stone swingers" (140).

Grace Slick is a rock musician best known for being the lead singer of bands like Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship. In the 1960s and 70s, she was a cultural style icon and anti-establishment critic; she struggled with drug and alcohol abuse throughout her career. She also did attend Finch College, a now defunct expensive and elite finishing school on Manhattan's Upper East Side. One of her classmates was Tricia Nixon, the President's daughter. As a result, Slick was once invited to the White House for a Finch alumni event, during which she supposedly planned to spike the President's tea with LSD. However, she never got the chance to do so because the White House security personnel refused to let Slick inside once they realized who she was.

This simile casts the assistant DA's wife as a confident rabble-rouser; she is someone who sticks out from the crowd.