Jennifer Egan’s A Visit From The Goon Squad is a novel that, like all great novels, explores many themes, and many complicated relationships between equally complicated characters, but does all this a non-traditional narrative that refuses to correspond to our expectations of linear time.
For your final essay paper of the semester pick one of the three options listed here:
Pick a particular character and track her/his development throughout the novel. Because the novel unfolds in a non-linear fashion, it might be useful to first determine your chosen character’s particular timeline within the text. Use the link on the Goon Squad Page in D2L to see the precise chronological order of the character’s progress in the narrative structure of the book as a whole. Examples: How does Lou progress through the book? Sasha? Benny? Also, be sure to include a discussion of the point you think Egan might be making by inventing these character’s progression throughout the book.
Explore one or more of the complicated relationships the book discusses. For example, how does the relationship of Scotty and Bennie change throughout the novel? Or, the relationship of Bennie and Sasha? Give specific examples of these relationships, and always be aware that the changes in these relationships reflect something Egan wishes to tell us about how time changes everything, for better or for worse.
Time, Technology, Change, Memory, Fear of Aging (and becoming irrelevant), Connection and Disconnection. All of these ideas have been identified as themes Egan explores in the novel. Pick one to three of them and locate specific sections of the text that illustrate where the themes are played out. From these themes, please incorporate into your thesis what you believe to be Egan’s main thesis in the novel. Do all of the themes you are discussing fit under a greater “umbrella” idea?
Discuss the non-linear structure of the novel. Why do you suppose Egan chose to tell her story in a non-chronological narrative? What precisely does the novel gain from this decision (and might it lose something, too?). How might Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and a Postmodernist sensibility have influenced the telling of this story in a way that defies “normal” beginning to end approaches to fiction? IMPORTANT: Remember that our goal in studying this book is both very simple and extremely complex, but boils down to one question: What is Egan trying to say in the writing of this book? All art is the result of the artist trying to tell us something.
Whichever of the four options you pick here, your thesis should reflect the answer, as you understand it, to this question: What is Egan trying to share with us about the human condition in her novel?
Paper should be 4-5 pages in length, and should include at least five (5) sources to support your argument (one of which will be the novel itself)