Naked Lunch | Study Guide

William Burroughs

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Naked Lunch | Chapter 5 : Joselito | Summary



Joselito develops a cough, and a German doctor diagnoses him with tuberculosis. The doctor speaks to Carl, Joselito's companion, about Joselito's condition while groping Carl. At the doctor's recommendation, Joselito is sent to a sanitarium for treatment. Carl visits Joselito at the sanitarium. Carl hallucinates images of decaying buildings, menacing jungles, and "the way ... strewn with broken condoms and empty H caps and K.Y. tubes." He talks nonsense about his furniture as boys pass the sanitarium calling out Joselito's name.


The German doctor in Chapter 5 is one of a parade of doctors in Naked Lunch who engage in unethical behavior. Compared to Dr. Benway's activities in Chapter 4, the German doctor's groping of Carl seems somewhat harmless. Carl's hallucinatory episode outside the sanitarium implies he may suffer from the same malady as Joselito. In fact, the boys' calling Joselito's name implies Joselito and Carl may actually be the same person. Whatever the main characters' true identities, the descriptions provided in "Joselito" reveal the hostility and ugliness present in the world of Naked Lunch.

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