Sasha, a young and desperate woman in her mid-thirties, works as an assistant to Bennie, a former punk singer – who’s now aging and found success as a pragmatic, music executive. All the other characters introduced by Jennifer Egan seem to be tied around these two: whether as acquaintances from the past, present, or future. This article has analyzed all the characters from ‘A Visit from the Goon Squad’ by Jennifer Egan.
Sasha Grady Blake
Sasha is the pivotal character in Egan’s ‘A Visit from the Goon Squad’ narrative. The readers get up to speed with her character from the first chapter, first page and never stop hearing about her throughout the book.
The first impression is that of a thief and drug addict – although she wants to improve her life as she’s seeing a shrink. Later impressions – revealed through Sasha’s uncle, Ted Hollander – shows that Sasha was as a child smart and intelligent.
Following a series of unbearable times with family, Sasha leaves home at age 17 and gets exposed to all kinds of lifestyles: drugs, hookup, stealing, befriending, and partying with her punk musicians – one of which she travels to Asia and then to Europe with. She, however, returns to New York after her uncle Ted’s persuasion and enrolls in college, where she meets Drew Blake, whom she would eventually marry and have two kids with many years later.
He is a more advanced character who has found fame and fortune in the music industry as a music executive. Prior to his successful business career, Bennie himself used to be a rockstar as a teenager, but all those years of experience – coupled with family issues – have molded him into a disinterested, nonchalant man.
Bennie marries Stephenie after missing out on Alice his first choice to a friend Scotty Hausman; however, Stephanie would later get a divorce after she catches Bennie cheating on her with Kitty Jackson. Although the couple has a son, Christopher, Bennie isn’t there enough for him as he’s too busy with being successful in his business. His failures over the years have reduced his self-esteem, enthusiasm, and libido; however, he later finds himself again towards the end of the book.
Ted Hollander is an uncle to Sasha through whom we know a great deal about Sasha’s past. Personally, Ted’s also a troubled character himself, having not had a big time in his job as an art scholar. When Sasha’s stepfather approaches him for a paid search trip for his daughter, Ted is happy and uses the opportunity to escape the issues from family, and also used the chance to enjoy some good views of some historical relics in Italy while hunting down Sasha.
He is a talented musician and guitarist and one of the closest friends of Bennie during their youthful days, although the pair split after Scotty wins over and marries Alice – a woman with whom Bennie also has feelings.
From there, their destinies take a different direction, with Bennie firing on to become successful in the rock music industry, while Scotty has a bad marriage, divorces, and ends up as a depressed janitor.
Scotty is still, however, interested and still making music on the side, and a chance reconnection with old friend Bennie presents him with a final twitch to try and revitalize his career, and he grabs it with both hands.
He is a very successful record producer and Bennie’s mentor. Lou leads a reckless life of extravagance, drugs, and women with no regard for attaining real achievement or value in life.
He has several children from multiple women and is still interested in young teenage girls – with Jocelyn, one of whom he has a romantic relationship with. Even as he ages, he doesn’t stop to give his time and value to no one, not even his beloved son Rolph. In his last days, he is left ruing over his youthful decisions, lonely and unhealthy.
Lulu’s mother and New York-based celebrity public relations specialist can’t seem to find any work after her last pioneered event left many important attendees going home with severe burns following a technical glitch that set a fire. Dolly is much more concerned about affording Lulu’s needs and soon gets the chance when she is approached by another character, The General, to run PR on his waning public image.
Drew meets Sasha in college, and the pair would later get married and have two children. He is one of the good guys, ambitious, and a long-time admirer of Sasha while both were in college and before they hit it off. As a father, he fails at connecting with his autistic son, Lincoln, but once he becomes genuinely interested in what Lincoln likes, he is able to bond with him.
He is a cruel, genocidal leader who is under threat of being assassinated by a CIA’s covert operation. He wants to re-brandish a good public name so the people can see him in a good light, and not the real person that he is. For this reason, he employs one of the best in the business in Dolly.
A social media manager, Alex is one of the key figures – alongside Lulu – who works with Bennie in promoting Scotty’s music concert. He is a good, honest young man who is selfless and sincere. He shows this when, in the introductory chapter and on a date with Sasha, he helps to make sure that the lady whose purse gets all the assistance that she needs. Alex later has a bad married leading to divorce – in which he comes out in custody of his toddler.
Another important social media marketing talent who teams up with Alex to popularize Scotty’s show. Lulu is the daughter of celebrity PR specialist, Dolly, and her presence is noticed when her mother erects an event to repair The General’s bad reputation, as she travels around with her for work and has her own impact with her sociability and people-skill qualities.
Jules is Stephanie’s older brother who struggles with bipolar throughout the book. After graduating college as a promising young journalist from Michigan, he moves to New York to stay with his sister – spending time partying, and writing occasionally but doesn’t quite find his break, unlike his ex-roommates who hit the time.
His lowest point is when he sexually assaulted Kitty Jackson when he’s interviewing her for a story – an offense for which he spends five years jail term. Jules, however, later has one shot at redeeming his age and saving his career, and he does so with a fine biographic piece on Bosco.
She’s with the crew of Bennie, Scotty, and Rhea but is likely the youngest at sixteen. Jocelyn goes out with the group to parties and concerts, where she meets Lou, with whom she is infatuated. She blindly indulges in all manner of decadence with Lou: hard drugs, casual sexual intimacy, and the like.
Eventually, she realizes she’s wasting her life away without much tangible achievement. She later returns to her mother’s house and enrolls in college with the hope of making something out of whatever time is left of her life.
She is first introduced as Lou’s girlfriend, who goes on a trip to Africa with him (Lou) and his kids. Despite her promiscuous tendency, she is courageous and intelligent and doesn’t stop fighting what she thinks is best for herself (and later her children). In the future, she marries Lou and then divorces him after two kids. She takes up a job as a travel agent, raises her kids alone, and returns to college.
Rhea is friends with Jocelyn and Alice; the trio is the girls in Bennie and Scotty’s punk clique from the onset. She is fanatically a punk rocker, and it shows in her appearance. She has a thing for Bennie – who is too in love with Alice to even notice. Rhea, along with Jocelyn and Alice, is considered Lou’s girl, although she still feels kind of left out because she doesn’t do everything with them. A much older version of herself settles down and has a family of five.
A former guitarist living in past glory, Bosco, like all the other characters, feels the effect of time on his life. Having lived hard and wild in his youthful days, he is forced to accept his current undesirable life as an overweight alcoholic who is dying of cancer.
Perceiving its ending for him, Bosco is determined to die in style, or ‘flame away,’ not ‘fade away.’ For this, he organizes a tour for his album, where he plans to push himself so hard and die on stage. None of this happens, as Bosco later recovers and goes into animal farming.
Jules’ kid sister and Bennie’s wife and eventually an ex-wife. Stephanie had led a crazy life herself, has tattoos on her body, and struggles with drug addiction. After attending college in New York, she marries and moves to the rich Crandale neighborhood with her husband Bennie.
She has a terrible time in Crandale and struggles to fit in due to her past. Her marriage isn’t as great either as the issue of Bennie’s infidelity keeps coming up. She eventually divorces Bennie after they have a son, Christopher.
Lincoln’s sister and daughter to Bennie and Sasha, Alison is described as smart and intelligent, but also headstrong and intransigent. She loves her brother, and has a special spot for her father, but appears to have a hard time bonding with her mother. Alison loves to catalog her life in PowerPoint and is mostly pessimistic about her worldview.
Alison’s brother and son to Bennie and Sasha, Lincoln is smart but struggles with autism. This makes him socially awkward and unfit among family and peers. He craves a connection with his father, Drew, but doesn’t get that because he doesn’t understand him; however, at last, when the two work together on a project about pauses in punk rock, they eventually clicked for the first time (Because he loves and is fascinated with pauses).
Rolph is the depressed son of Lou, who struggles to connect on a personal level with his father and socially with others. His only true connection is with his sister, but that wasn’t enough to stop him from committing suicide in his late 20s.
Another character who is suicidal, Rob, is one of the first friends of Sasha in college – along with Drew. He is a troubled kid with mental health issues – all that is made even worse amid his struggles to find his true identity. He’s gay and has a thing for Drew – who has a thing for Sasha. At the peak of his mental health crisis, he drowns in the East River while swimming with Drew.
Jules Jones’ sexual assault victim, Kitty is a celebrity actress who is kind and compassionate but also stubborn and strong-willed. After the incident with Jules, which led to his imprisonment, Kitty pursues a strong advocacy for his acquittal – which gets her more popular. She later works with PR guru Dolly to fix The General’s image but gets kidnapped after she messed up her script.
Who are the major characters in ‘A Visit from the Goon Squad’ by Jennifer Egan?
Bennie and Sasha are the two most important characters of the book, however, other major characters they follow include; Scotty, Rhea, Drew, Alex, Jocelyn, and Uncle Ted, among others.
Why is Sasha’s character so interesting in ‘Goon Squad’?
Aside from her story which resonates with nearly every young woman, Sasha is also the connecting dot for half of the other characters introduced throughout the book.
Does Sasha get the fulfillment that she desires?
Sasha doesn’t get all she ever wanted but gets a happier, peaceful life after settling down with Drew and their two children, Alison and Lincoln.
Why does Sasha’s friend Rob die in ‘Goon Squad’?
Rob dies by drowning in the East River after he spills Sasha’s secret to Drew and goes in for a swim.