Liminal Criminal: Abject, Absence and Environment in Junky and The Outsider


  • Molly Hoey James Cook University



liminality, subjectivity, abject, Burroughs, Camus, liminal environments


Liminality represents a transient and in-between space in which the subject, midritual, is rendered absent and abject. This space is generated and inhabited by both the victims and perpetrators of social transgressions; a space in which each party is caught in a state of abjection until the fulfilment of punishment. Located within this sphere the reader finds the worlds of William Burroughs’ Junky (2002 [1953]) and Albert Camus’ The Outsider (2013 [1967]). Junky outlines the daily journeys of its narrator, Bill, through the lens of his opiate addiction as he travels from the chill of New York to the sub-tropics of New Orleans and the heat of Mexico; constantly haunted by the ‘junk vibe’ until the lure of new highs takes him to the tropics of Columbia and beyond the reader’s reach. The Outsider follows the narrator, Meursault, as he travels under the burden of the Algerian sun from the day of his mother’s death through to his conviction of murder for shooting a man after a confrontation on a beach. The titles of both texts denote the protagonists as abject and liminal. The liminal is present within Junky and The Outsider in three distinct ways: the criminal element, the oppressive environment, and language.

Author Biography

Molly Hoey, James Cook University

Molly Hoey is a PhD Candidate, tutor, and guest lecturer at James Cook University. Her thesis examines the reading and analysis of Transgressive fiction and her work has been published in Word and Text- A Journal of Literary Studies and Linguistics, Journal of Comparative Media Arts and Linq (Literature in North Queensland). 


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How to Cite

Hoey, M. (2017). Liminal Criminal: Abject, Absence and Environment in Junky and The Outsider. ETropic: Electronic Journal of Studies in the Tropics, 16(1).