William S. Burroughs’ work is generally regarded as narratives of opposition and revolt. However, in this thesis, I will examine how his socially deviant characters are not exempt from discourses that rely on binary hierarchies, and promote coherence. The dissemination of identity shows the limits of essentialist rhetoric, and the impossibility of pure self-representation. For Burroughs, the liability of our ability to create truths is the ignorance of its multiplicity and unavoidability. The violent and obscure effects of language manifest in characterizations and identity descriptions. I will approach this thematically, through social discourses, naming, and sexuality. The first analysis will examine the oscillation of identity within seemingly cohesive depictions, and delineate Burroughs’ theory of language. The second analysis will examine Burroughs’ use of nicknames, conflation of name and function, and the semantic re-appropriation of epithets as problematizations of identity and context. The third analysis will discuss how we can read sexuality in Burroughs’ novels, and the possible tension between sexual identity and eroticism. Such a thematic division also necessitates reflections on how Burroughs upsets distinctions of being, language, and context. This thesis examines Burroughs’ novels in relation to the possibility of providing a critique of essentialism, while simultaneously being indebted to language structures that accommodate recognition and identification.