Thursday, November 6, 2014

Structural Analysis of A Visit From the Goon Squad

In A Visit From the Goon Squad, Egan uses non-linear, multiple-perspective storytelling to impact shifts in the reader’s evaluation of Dolly, also known as La Doll. Egan tends to mention a character in a chapter first, and then follow it up with a chapter from that character’s perspective, a device used to influence the reader into having conflicting feelings about the character. Within a chapter, Egan includes the character’s thoughts, feelings and actions in difficult situations to help the reader understand the character on a deeper level and shift the reader’s perspective from disgust and disappointment to tolerance or acceptance.

In “A to B,” a character named La Doll is mentioned. Stephanie, her employee, says to La Doll in a serious voice to, “God you’re a bitch.” La Doll comes off as a capitalist, consumerist monster that is only concerned with making money. While “A to B” portrays La Doll as scary and mean, the chapter “Selling the General” introduces the reader to other aspects of La Doll than merely as a businesswoman; the reader sees her as a mother and human being that makes mistakes. In the story “Selling the General,” she is referred to as Dolly rather than La Doll, which is another example of how Egan changes the reader’s views of this character; the name Dolly sounds sweeter and softer than La Doll. The human side of Dolly is shown in this chapter and the reader is persuaded to feel sympathy for her because of her failing relationship with her daughter Lulu. “Selling the General” guides the reader through Dolly’s painful downfall as a publicist, her complicated relationship with Lulu, and finally, Dolly’s success at getting back on top of her life. Because of the way Egan constructs this chapter, the reader feels pity and wants Dolly to succeed in life. At the beginning of the chapter, Dolly helps a mass murderer acquire a better public image, which reinforces the reader's thoughts that all Dolly wants is to make money, thereby supporting the reader’s negative view of her. However, the author then focuses on why she is so adamant about making money and doing whatever it takes, even if it goes against her morals. The author leads the reader through Dolly’s past, unveiling her struggles with Lulu; detailing the fall of her career as a publicist, all the way from the top to the bottom; and revealing how she got pregnant and kept the baby, even though it didn’t make sense at that point in her life.

Although “Selling the General” begins with supporting the image of La Doll as she is portrayed in “A to B,” as a slimy, business women who just wants to make money, it concludes by shifting the reader’s perspective to perceive her as Dolly, the loving mother who would do anything to make her daughter happy, and help her to succeed in the future.


  1. I agree that the change in perspective greatly changes the way we feel about each character. There are very few good or bad characters in the book because we see both sides of them.

  2. I think that you did a really good job of showing how Egan shifts the perception of Dolly from being scary and mean to more human and motherly. Nice article!