2019 Student Research Conference:
32nd Annual Student Research Conference

Society as a Lie: The Language, Structure, and Purpose of Naked Lunch

Peter B. Ho
Dr. Hena Ahmad, Faculty Mentor

This paper examines the nonlinear structure and graphic language William Burroughs employs in his novel, Naked Lunch. Lacking all sense of structure and storytelling, the plot loosely follows William Lee, a junkie running from the police in his pursuit of his next fix. Drugs, sex, and paranoia fill the gaps in Lee’s journey. Echoing Burroughs’ history as one of the Beat Generation’s pioneers, Naked Lunch experiments with drug culture and rebels against the establishment. William Burroughs advises the reader to not only ponder the legitimacy of the things we are told, but also the society we all willingly participate in. His vivid descriptions of drug and sexual abuse within the book represent how Burroughs perceives reality and makes us question our own.

Naked Lunch was written in a way in which you can start from any page and read in any order. Each page of the novel stands on its own. However, when put together with another page, paragraph, or sentence, the images they convey integrate into the bigger picture Burroughs portrays.


Keywords: William Burroughs, Naked Lunch, Society, Beat Generation, Drugs, War, Sex, Government


Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 305-2
Location: BH 241
Time: 1:45

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