Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

William Lee

William Lee, the picaro narrator, a streetwise addict who also narrated Junkie (1951), the author’s first novel. Lee escapes arrest at the end by killing Hauser and O’Brien, twenty-year veterans of the Narcotics Squad.

The Buyer

The Buyer, a narcotics agent known for his ability to pass as a junkie. He has his own insidious habit, however: physical contact with junkies, who are absorbed and digested through some obscure metabolic process. He is caught absorbing the Narcotics Commissioner and destroyed with a flamethrower.

Dr. Benway

Dr. Benway, an adviser to the Freeland Republic. “A manipulator and coordinator of symbol systems,” Benway is an expert on interrogation and mind control, though he avoids the use of torture. He supervises the Reconditioning Center until its computer inadvertently releases all patients.


Mugwumps, creatures without livers. They eat only sweets, and they murder young boys, whom they sexually violate at the time of death. Inhabitants of Interzone, they secrete an addictive fluid (addicts to it are called “Reptiles”) that prolongs life by slowing metabolism.

Ali Hassan

Ali Hassan, a wealthy man with a fake Texas accent. He owns the Rumpus Room, where the Mugwumps hang boys. Hassan is known as a “notorious Liquefactionist.”


(The entire section is 413 words.)


(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Just as Jennie Skerl has observed that the subject of Naked Lunch "is a state of mind" and the "action is the flow of consciousness"...

(The entire section is 621 words.)