Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Egan's Narrative Structure

In “A Visit From the Goon Squad” Egan’s narrative structure is nonlinear, with different perspectives, that allows the reader’s view and opinion of the characters to change. Sasha is one of the main characters in which the reader’s judgment changes.

Sasha is introduced to the reader in the first chapter, Found Objects. She is seen as a desperate girl who sees stealing as a way to “accept the challenge [of life]... [and] live dangerously” because it gives her a thrill. This thrill makes Sasha feel young again and urges her to steal more and more, like a drug. The reader sees this cycle as pitiful and sees Sasha as a selfish and pathetic woman, who is desperate to go back to the past to be young again.

In chapter 12, Good Rock and Roll Pauses, the reader sees Sasha from the perspective of her daughter. Her daughter shows the reader a new view of Sasha, the caring and responsible mother. Alison explains how Sasha is the one who is taking care of her and Lincoln which allows the reader to see how responsible Sasha has become. Also, Alison explains how Sasha truly understands Lincoln and his pauses. She can easily relate to the fact that pauses “make you think [life] will end. And then [life] isn’t really over, so you are relieved. But then [life] does actually end, because every [life] ends, obviously, and that time the end is for real”, which allows the reader to acknowledge that Sasha has accepted the fact that she is no longer young, and she finally grew up. It is noted that she has accepted the fact that her life will end, but for now she must keep living it in the present, as an older woman.

This shift in judgment is caused because the reader sees Sasha from two points of view, her own and her daughters. These different perspectives allow the reader to realize that Sasha was not who she first appeared to be, a pathetic, desperate woman searching aimlessly for her youth, but is actually a caring and responsible adult who acknowledges and accepts the fact that she will never be young again.


  1. When we read examples for the analysis quiz in class I thought this would be pretty tricky, yours is good and example worthy of the proper way to right this. you have good strong language through out and a clear thesis.

  2. Sasha's character is very complex and your evidence clearly stated the shift of judgments throughout the book with two specific examples, good job!

  3. I also wrote about Sasha! This comment is my blog post! Also, I love your post. I sort of forgot to write about Sasha as a mother, but oh well.
    In A Visit from the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan’s nontraditional storytelling results in a continual transformation of the reader’s opinion of the characters. The effects of Egan’s nonlinear style are clearly seen in the portrayal of Sasha, who is seen as troubled and secretive, capable and mature, and eventually again as troubled and somewhat lost.
    In the first chapter of the book, “Found Objects,” Sasha is portrayed as very troubled. When caught with a woman’s wallet that she stole, she describes herself as “hanging on by a thread.” Although she acknowledges the need to cure her kleptomania and attends therapy to treat it, Sasha is unable to solve the problem. Furthermore, she seems dissatisfied with other areas of her life, wishing that she could reconnect with friends, move out of her apartment, or relearn to play the harp. This portrayal of Sasha leads the reader to feel pity for her. Sasha is also presented as secretive. She admits to lying about her age on her dating profiles, and she also conceals her true opinions and thoughts from the people around her. She refuses to speak to Coz about her father and later tells him, “Don’t ask me how I feel.” Her lies and omitted truths make the reader wary of her as a narrator and also make her a somewhat less likable character.
    In the next chapter, the reader’s perspective on Sasha changes. In “The Gold Cure,” Sasha is no longer pitied because she seems in control and capable. When Bennie becomes ill at the Stop/Go sisters’ house, Sasha takes on an almost motherly role in her concern for him. She later gives him a kiss that Bennie describes as akin to a motherly gesture. Instead of being pitiable, she is an object of respect. In fact, Bennie seems to love and almost revere her, saying, “She knew everything” and later expressing his love for her. Instead of being barely able to keep her life together, Sasha is seen by the reader as very put together, so much so that she also keeps Bennie’s life together. Finally, despite the previous chapters portrayal of her as immature, in this chapter Bennie describes Sasha as having “stopped being a girl when he wasn’t watching.” This new perspective again changes the reader’s opinion of Sasha, so that the reader feels admiration and respect for Sasha.
    When Sasha next appears, she has reverted to the first Sasha that the reader saw- lost and troubled, although more likable than previously. This shift is partially caused by the shift in time, as the chapters “Out of Body” and “Goodbye, My Love” are set well before “The Gold Cure.” However, by giving background on Sasha, these chapters create a new perspective. In “Out of Body,” Sasha is portrayed as rather paranoid, nervously describing the detective that she thinks has been sent to spy on her. Her lifestyle involves drugs, alcohol, and partying, and her friends group seems disjointed and even unbalanced. Meanwhile, “Goodbye, My Love” shows Sasha right before she goes to college. She is living in Naples, poor and alone, after having spent years wandering aimlessly across the globe. As her uncle tries to find her, he reflects, “He wanted nothing to do with her. She was lost.” However, Uncle Ted also remembers the chaos and sorrow of Sasha’s childhood, particularly when her parents divorced. The information about Sasha’s sad beginnings helps the reader relate to her and sympathize with her, ultimately resulting in pity but also empathy. Although in some ways this opinion of Sasha is the same as it was in “Found Objects,” it is a deeper sort of pity because it comes from some kind of understanding of Sasha rather than just one image of her.