Naked Lunch | Study Guide

William Burroughs

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Naked Lunch | Chapter 21 : The Exterminator Does a Good Job | Summary



The Sailor takes the boy to his place. He tells the boys the rooms have been exterminated for coke bugs. It's a tenement flat smelling of death, drugs, and dried semen. The Sailor offers a packet of junk, asking again for the boy's time. He touches the boy then gives him a shot of heroin.

The narrator claims to be The Exterminator, as he did once kill real bugs. Now he exterminates defecting agents who could upset "our food tray." He notes someone is looking for him, too, "Because all Agents defect and all Resisters sell out."


This chapter marks a departure from the previous chapters, which are only loosely related to one another, if at all. "The Exterminator Does a Good Job" continues the events of Chapter 20, showing the interaction between the Sailor and the boy he picks up in the café. His residence is a bleak place, and his interaction with the boy is similarly bleak. He engages in some contact with the boy before shooting him up with heroin. His comment junk is a one-way street implies the boy will not be able to return to using cocaine after this experience. He has become a junkie like the Sailor.

The narrator interjects himself into this scene by claiming to have been The Exterminator who fumigated this apartment. Instead of killing bugs, he claims to eliminate those who might deprive the Islam Inc. agents from the means to pursue their addictions and agendas. The mention, in combination with the title, introduces the possibility he might exterminate the Sailor for unspecified reasons.

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