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What Is American Dream

In: Historical Events

Submitted By uzu45
Words 1082
Pages 5
Uzair Sumra
Robert Guffey
English 100
30 November 2015
What Is The American Dreams?
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a book written by Hunter S. Thompson published in the year 1971. The book is a reflection of American politics during Thompson’s time. It is written with the author (Thompson) as the main character, but he uses a fictional name to avoid repercussions and allow for more artistic license. The book takes place in the early 1970s and the main character, Raoul Duke, is sent to Las Vegas to write an article on the 4th annual “Mint Race 400” buggy race. Under the advice of his lawyer (Dr. Gonzo) both drive out to Las Vegas on a nonstop LSD and mescaline trip. Unfortunately, Duke and Gonzo engage themselves in an adventure of the lifetime. Somehow things go berserk and both of them end up abandoning work and engaging in an experience that involves disparaging everyone around them. The obvious theme of the book is The American Dream. Thompson wrote a lot about the American Dream and just like most people, he believed in the American Dream. Hunter S. Thompson portrays the American Dream as illusionary, as there are some places where he says that the American Dream is about money.
The American Dream is a phrase which is heard, at some point, by most people today and the meaning has been understood since the founding of America. The definition of the American Dream appears to be different for most people, depending on their views. Probably the most accepted explanation of the American Dream is that it “is an idea which suggests all people can succeed through hard work, and that all people have the potential to live a happy and a successful life” (What is American Dream? Wisegreek.com). However, this phrase also equates happiness to wealth. The American Dreams differs for many people, but Horatio Alger’s idea is the one that we still remember today. He describes the American Dream as “from rag to riches” which means to start a life very poor and then become very rich in life. People who go from rags to riches are usually afraid the good life will be snatched away from them. Thompson’s sense of the American Dream is basically equal to Horatio Alger’s sense of the American Dream. At least he wants to act like him when he asks himself “How would Horatio Alger handle this situation?” (24).
The American Dream appears all over the book. It is mentioned several times, also in the book’s subtitle: “A savage journey to the heart of American Dream.” It is difficult to connect certain events in the book to the American Dream. “Can you hear me? I yelled. He nodded. ‘That’s good’ I said ‘Because I want you to know we’re on our way to Las Vegas to find the American Dream’ I smiled. ‘That’s why we rented this car. It was the only way to do it” (2). According to this statement Duke verbalizes their mission which is to search for the American Dreams in Las Vegas, which is being rich.
According to Duke the American Dream is also living a lavish life, being rich, spending a lot of money and not caring about it later. Duke and his attorney receive a taste of the rich lifestyle on their journey to Vegas through excessive spending, gambling, and the hotels and transportation being paid for. Duke touches on this early on in the book when describing the events that leads to the trip to Las Vegas: “…a call comes from New York, telling me to go to Las Vegas and expenses be damned – and then he sends me over to some office in Beverly Hills where another total stranger gives me $300 raw cash for no reason at all… I tell you my man, this American Dream in action” (4). Throughout the book, Duke and his attorney spend money quite frivolously for their happiness. Duke even wants to buy a monkey for reasons unspecified. This alludes once again to living a life of luxury and excess while striving for the American Dream.
Another place where they talk about the American Dream is when they say that the American Dream is in Las Vegas. Las Vegas is the place which is built on the idea “nothing to something.” It’s the place where someone can go empty handed and come back rich. Las Vegas turned the “rag to riches” concept into a money making industry. It is a shame to the American Dream, as it offers it to anybody who is willing to take a foolish risk for the money and erases the “hard work” part.
Who are these people? […] Where do they come from? They look like Caricatures of used car from dealers from Dallas. But they are real and sweet Jesus, there are a hell lot of them—still screaming around these desert-city crap tables at four thirty in the morning. Still humping the American Dream that vision of the Big Winner emerging pre-down chaos of a stale Vegas casino. Big strike in Silver City. Beat the dealer and go home rich. Why not? (19)
According to the above quotation, these people use gambling as their way to the American Dream; they are hoping to win big, get rich and live the life of luxury at which the American Dream hints.
Another example of the American Dream, where money and being rich is concerned, is Duke’s commentary on “Vegas hospitality.” He shares his views on this topic after paying for a rental car with a credit card that he learns later has been cancelled, but he never worries about that. “…nobody cares. They would rather not know. If Charlie Manson checked into the Sahara tomorrow morning no one hassle as long as he tipped big” (36). Along with revealing the lack of moral character in these employees, Duke emphasises their lust for money, their want to become wealthy and less excessively.
In the true meaning of the American Dream which is that every citizen should have an equal opportunities to achieve success and prosperity through hard work, determination and initiative. However it is delusion to be all about wealth and getting rich the easy way as portrayed by Duke in this book.

Works Cited
Thompson, Hunter S. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream. 2nd Vintage Books Ed. New York: Vintage, 1998. Print.

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