In A Visit From the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan’s writing style causes the reader’s opinion of characters to change throughout the novel. The best example of this is Bennie Salazar. When the reader first meets Bennie he seems pitiful, and depressing, because throughout the chapter everything Bennie does or sees causes him to flashback to something shameful he’d done in the past. Also, Bennie has “spent eight thousand dollars on gold in the past two months,” which he calls his “medicine,” and puts flakes of the gold in his coffee (Egan, 25). This shows that nothing is going right for Bennie, who is also divorced, and that he is so depressed he resorts to drinking gold flakes in his coffee to get rid of his headaches.
However, a couple chapters later the reader is re-introduced to Bennie, who now no longer seems pitiful and depressing, but sleazy and content. The reader’s view of him shifts from pitiful to content because in this chapter, Bennie is happily married with a kid, and is an incredibly successful record producer. In addition, the reader shifts from viewing him as depressed to sleazy, because when his childhood friend Scotty comes to visit him Bennie tries to get rid of him with the “least amount of hassle possible” and assumes that Scotty only came to visit him to get music produced (Egan, 100).
Still, Egan shifts the reader’s view of Bennie another time, in the chapter A to B. The reader first went from viewing Bennie as pitiful and depressing to viewing him as sleazy and content, and now Egan shifts the reader’s opinion back to viewing him as pitiful, but still sleazy. Bennie is pitiful because in this chapter he had it all; he was married with a kid, and living happily, but he throws it all away and cheats on his wife with Kathy, a woman whom he doesn’t even like. This also makes him look sleazy, because he cheats on his wife. Throughout the novel Egan’s writing style changes the reader’s perspective on the characters in her novel.