Supporting Your Loved One in A Visit from the Goon Squad

In Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad, there are a few characters who each, chronologically at first, shared a strong bond with one other character; Lou and Rolph were very close as father and son, Jocelyn and Lou were lovers who often had passionate sex, Scotty and Bennie were good friends during their time in a rock band, and Bennie and Stephanie were a married couple who supported each other well. After time had passed, these relationships, which seemed to be resilient and everlasting, later fell apart.

Some relationships ended with resentment and anger, while others ended with sadness and grief. Jennifer Egan chose to have these particular characters break their bonds to illustrate that, as time progresses, any form of human relationship could possibly, or even inevitability, come to an end, no matter how strong it seems.

Chronologically at first, Lou has a strong parental relationship with his son, Rolph, and Rolph has great affection for his father.

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According to Chapter 4, Rolph, an eleven-year-old at the time, is the only person on Earth that has the ability to “soothe” his father and, even though Lou expects Rolph to be just like him, he loves how his son is different than himself: “quiet, reflective, attuned to the natural world and the pain of others” (63). In the same chapter, the narrator mentions that Rolph, who is Lou’s “favorite child,” is not able to “separate his father’s loves and desires from his own,” which is the reason why he “loves and desires,” to an extent, his father’s new girlfriend (65).

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Both parent and child are shown to be very close and seem to have an extremely invincible bond. However, the strong relationship between father and son does not last. The narrator states that both Lou and Rolph, who is now in his 20’s, do not speak to each other anymore; as a result, Charlie, Rolph’s big sister, attempts to “broker peace between Rolph and Lou” (80). Also, according to Chapter 5, Jocelyn says that Rolph “broke a little whenever he stared down his father” (86). They clearly do not share the same powerful father-son bond they once had before. Perhaps they could have regained their lost mutual affection further in the future. Sadly, however, that possibility became nonexistent when Rolph commits suicide at 28 years of age, according to Chapter 3 (82). Even though they are unable to reconcile in the end, Lou still loved his son very much.

As a young girl on the verge of adulthood, Jocelyn becomes involved in a highly sexual intimate relationship with Lou, who is old enough to be her father. According to Chapter 3, Rhea tells the story of how Jocelyn met Lou: She was hitchhiking home from downtown and he pulled up in a red Mercedes and drove her to an apartment he uses on his trips to San Francisco. He unscrewed the bottom of a can of Right Guard, and a Baggie of cocaine dropped out. Lou did some lines off Jocelyn’s bare butt and they went all the way twice, not including when she went down on him. (43)

Immediately after their first encounter, Jocelyn and Lou form a strong sexual relationship. They continue to meet up in order to have sexual interactions, which includes that one time at a club. In the same chapter, when Rhea, Jocelyn, and Lou are at the Mab listening to the Flaming Dildos play, Rhea notices Jocelyn on her knees giving Lou oral sex, “like the music is a disguise and no one can see them,” then says, “I stand there while Lou mashes Jocelyn’s head against himself again and again so I don’t know how she can breathe, until it starts to seem like she’s not even Jocelyn, but some kind of animal or machine that can’t be broken” (53). When Jocelyn and Lou are in the mood, they find any opportunity to indulge in their sexual intimacy. Unfortunately for these two lovers, vigorous sexual relations tend to end after a long time has passed, especially if one is a lot older than the other. In Chapter 5, when Rhea and Jocelyn, now in their 40s, are standing next to Lou as he lays in bed, Jocelyn desires to ask him questions such as, “How did you get so old?” and, “Did everyone else get old too, or was it just you?” (85). Older Jocelyn is perplexed by how old Lou became, as if she never expected him to age at all. She begins to feel rage that causes her to think, “I want the other one, the selfish, devouring man, the one who turned me around between his legs out here in the wide open, pushing the back of my head with his free hand while he laughed into the phone” (89). Later on, Jocelyn becomes so furious, she imagines herself drowning Lou in his own pool, then says to him, “I should kill you,” and, “You deserve to die” (90). She completely rejects the old Lou and is extremely hostile toward him because he cannot offer her what he could when he was younger, which was hot and passionate sex.

Scotty and Bennie, who both are in a rock-and-roll band with Jocelyn, Rhea, Alice, and Joel, are good friends who are always on the same page. If fact, according to Chapter 3, Rhea says that even though they do not speak to each other when making decisions, such as when to change the name of the band, Scotty and Bennie “agree on everything, maybe through ESP” (41). Both Scotty and Bennie understand each other so well as friends. However, their relationship goes sour too soon in their lives. According to Rhea, Bennie and Scotty stop speaking to each other after Alice, Bennie’s love interest, becomes Scotty’s significant other; she says, “He and Scotty still don’t talk, but before they were like one person,” and follows with, “Now it’s like they’ve never met” (57). Bennie most likely ends his friendship with Scotty because Alice chose Scotty instead of him, resulting in him feeling betrayed by his friend. According to Chapter 6, when Scotty is having a conversation with Bennie after so many years and Bennie asks him what he wants from him, Scotty realizes, after seeing Bennie in “one of those poses that appears to be very relaxed but is actually very tense,” that, “Bennie and I weren’t friends anymore, and we never would be,” and, “He was looking to get rid of me as quickly as possible with the least amount of hassle” (100). Bennie does not seem to be interested in restoring their friendship but would rather talk business instead. A friendship cannot be sustained with one side.

As a couple of loving spouses, Bennie and Stephanie support each other whenever one needs the other. According to Chapter 7, when both arrive back home from a party at a country club, Bennie, who is filled with anger, cries out, “What the fuck am I doing here?” in response to what Clay and the group of people did at the party that upset him, and Stephanie tries to reason with him in order to calm him down, especially when Bennie could risk waking up Chris, their little child (117). She approaches him while “he stood at the top of the stairs with fists clenched,” and embraces him, then “held each other until his breathing slowed” (117). Stephanie dislikes seeing Bennie upset, so she does her best to quell his rage. After Bennie refuses Stephanie’s suggestion to move out of their house, she decides to continue attending the country club and keeps “her tennis games” with Kathy, Clay’s wife, a secret because she desires “to protect Bennie from knowledge that destressed him” (118). She is willing to hide her current involvement in the club to spare his feelings. However, their marriage becomes a bit shaky at times. In the same chapter, when “at the cocktail party,” Stephanie notices “Bennie’s gaze lingering on Kathy and felt herself go tense – a residual spasm of unease that passed as quickly as his attention” (114). She is wary that Bennie may cheat on her, which is a fear she faces throughout the chapter. Unfortunately, her fear is realized when she discovers, after coming across Kathy’s bobby pin on the floor of their bathroom, that Bennie cheated on her with Kathy (134). She imagines ways in which she could confront Bennie about his betrayal, but decides to run out of the house and hide in the bushes instead (135). Stephanie is shocked and distraught about what Bennie did, and that led to the end their relationship as husband and wife.

Updated: Feb 29, 2024
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Supporting Your Loved One in A Visit from the Goon Squad. (2024, Feb 29). Retrieved from

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