Throughout my semester in Topics in Contemporary Literature, I have read a lot of works by a lot of different writers. Given the array of material that has been covered, I also have been introduced to a slew of new ideas and amazing characters. Two prime examples of this can be found within Barry Hannah’s “Ray,” and Hunter S. Thompson’s “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” Both of the aforementioned characters are extremely complex, even though they may seem superficial, and both are the main focuses within the text. On one end there is Ray, who is a character that indulges in womanizing, fighting, and is often driven by pure lust and impulse. On the other end there is Raoul Duke, which is a fake identity that is taken by one of the main characters in Thompson’s novel. Duke is a character that takes sheer delight in partaking in recreational drugs, and lives his live on a whim. While the two characters have a lot in common, such as living life on impulse and having extremely indulgent behavior, they both are unique characters. While it can be argued that Raoul Duke acts the way that he does because of the numerous amount of drugs that he takes, Ray is rarely ever intoxicated, leading the reader to believe that his womanizing, racism, and unfaithfulness, are products of him being an immoral personal. Regardless of the reasons for their debauchery, both characters can be seen as contemporary, and are evidence that contemporaries of today’s time are opting for more raw and uncut settings and realities within their works.
A lot can be said about the character of Ray in Barry Hannah’s novel. He is truly an interesting character that is proof of the many complexities and issues that human beings have. Throughout the novel, the character Ray partakes in a number of indulgent behaviors. One of his favorite past times is having explicit sex with numerous different women. At one point in the text, Ray states, “Whoever created Ray gave him a big sex engine” (Pg. 46). One of Ray’s favorite women to be with is Sister Hooch. Sister is a character within the story that serves as a source of obsession for Ray until her untimely death. Though Sister is not Ray’s wife, this fact never stops them from continuing their wild sexual relationship. In one specific example, after having sexual relations for an hour, Sister states, “It’s not enough… I want it all the way up my ass. Every inch of you Ray” (Pg. 47). Another example of Ray’s perversities comes into play while he is being audited for the IRS. After succumbing to boredom he proceeds to, “Go back in the other room, raise up her skirt, and stick the meat in her” (Pg. 82). These examples provide evidence for the fact that Ray is a character that lives off of impulse. Though married, he continuously seeks out new and perverted sexual encounters with many different women. At times he exudes remorse, but more often then not, he is only concerned with his own lust and wants.
Another example of Ray’s erratic and impulsive behavior is his disregard for human life. In one specific example, Ray seemingly adopts a Dr. Jack Kevorkian attitude by taking matters into his own hands and deciding that it is time for an 80 year old patient of his to die. The text states that Ray “Confesses he deliberately lost the bastard who was eighty” (Pg. 70). After deciding that the old man was crazy and senile, Ray proceeds to “Yank out the connections and shut down the monitors and let him pass over the light into hell” (Pg. 71). This part of the text is powerful because it truly gives the reader insight into Ray’s perception of himself. Through this, the reader gets a sense of the fact that not only is Ray an adulterer and a womanizer, but he is also a person who has wonton disregard for human life. It appears that not only does Ray think that he can sleep with as many women as he pleases, but he also seems to have the belief that he has the power and authority to end human life, as if he is God.
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