A Visit from the Goon Squad

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Stephanie Character Analysis

Christopher’s mother and Bennie’s wife and business associate, Stephanie moves from New York City to the wealthy community of Crandale with her family. A tattooed woman and recovering drug addict, Stephanie feels out of place in Crandale and struggles to connect with the residents. She feels ridiculous because of the energy she puts into trying to connect the women she doesn’t identify with. Stephanie loves Bennie, but after Bennie’s past infidelities, she worries constantly that he is cheating on her. Her fears eventually become reality, and she and Bennie divorce.

Stephanie Quotes in A Visit from the Goon Squad

The A Visit from the Goon Squad quotes below are all either spoken by Stephanie or refer to Stephanie. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Time and Memory Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Anchor Books edition of A Visit from the Goon Squad published in 2011.
Chapter 7 Quotes

Stephanie and Bennie had lived in Crandale a year before they were invited to a party. It wasn't a place that warmed easily to strangers…It wore on Stephanie more than she'd expected, dropping off Chris for kindergarten, waving or smiling at some blond mother releasing blond progeny from her SUV or Hummer, and getting back a pinched, quizzical smile whose translation seemed to be: Who are you again? How could they not know, after months of daily mutual sightings? They were snobs or idiots or both, Stephanie told herself, yet she was inexplicably crushed by their coldness.

Related Characters: Stephanie (speaker), Bennie Salazar
Page Number: 111
Explanation and Analysis:

After achieving incredible success in the music business, Bennie and Stephanie move to Crandale, a wealthy and exclusive community outside of New York City. Bennie hopes that moving to the community will allow him to assume the identity of a typically successful American man, but both Bennie and Stephanie feel disconnected and inauthentic in the new community.

The difference between the Crandale community and the community the couple left in New York City creates an identity crisis in Stephanie. She both judges the women of Crandale and desperately wants their acceptance. This conflicting desire to both separate herself from and be accepted by the other woman echoes her struggle with authenticity within her own identity.

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The topic was the presence of Al Qaeda in the New York area. Operatives were present, Bill confided, especially in the outer boroughs, possibly in communication with one another (Stephanie noticed Clay's pale eyebrows suddenly lift, and his head gave a single odd jerk, as if he had water in one ear), but the question was: how strong a link did they have to the mother ship—here Bill laughed—because any kook with a grudge could call himself Al Qaeda, but if he lacked money, training, backup (Clay gave another quick head shake, then flicked his eyes at Bennie, to his right), it made no sense to allocate resources…

Related Characters: Stephanie (speaker), Bennie Salazar
Page Number: 116
Explanation and Analysis:

In this scene, Stephanie and Bennie are at a party with members of the Crandale Community. Over time, they have begun to make some connections in Crandale and are invited to parties, but as this scene suggests, they are still considered outsiders. At this particular party, the conversation has shifted to the fear of terrorism in post-9/11 America. This tragic event not only had ruinous physical effects on New York City, but also tragic implications on the nation’s psyche. Suspicion, especially regarding those who do not appear white, is a reality in this world and explored through the second half of the book.

Though Bennie is Hispanic, he is racially profiled by the white Crandale members and pegged as being of Middle Eastern descent. Bill derives meaning from Bennie’s dark complexion, but his racist misreading of external markers has caused him to misinterpret Bennie’s true identity. This moment speaks to a disconnection between the characters present, but in a larger sense, a disconnection between Americanns in a nation waging a supposed “war on terror.” Bill’s comment that “any kook with a grudge could call himself Al Qaeda” is such a gross generalization, that anyone who looks non-white can become a suspect.

"I want interviews, features, you name it," Bosco went on. "Fill up my life with that shit. Let's document every fucking humiliation. This is reality, right? You don't look good anymore twenty years later, especially when you've had half your guts removed. Time's a goon, right? Isn't that the expression?"

Related Characters: Bosco (speaker), Stephanie
Page Number: 127
Explanation and Analysis:

Stephanie, who is a PR woman, goes to visit Bosco (the former guitarist of the Conduits) to talk about promoting his new album. At one time, Bosco was a very famous rock star, but he has aged, become alcoholic, and is dying of cancer. He has now decided that he wants to die on stage during his tour.

Bosco’s comment about time being a “goon” both gives the novel its title and speaks to the devastating effects of time and aging on these characters’ lives and bodies. The novel shows the way in which popular culture ignores the truth of aging, and remains obsessed with youth and vitality, but Bosco wants to counteract this. He is willing to go to great lengths to regain his fame (dying on stage), but also desires to show himself authentically, and provide an authentic view of aging and ruin.

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Stephanie Character Timeline in A Visit from the Goon Squad

The timeline below shows where the character Stephanie appears in A Visit from the Goon Squad. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2: The Gold Cure
Time and Memory Theme Icon
Identity, Authenticity, and Meaning Theme Icon
Ruin and Redemption  Theme Icon
...drive has expired, and he is not sure if his recent divorce from his wife, Stephanie, or the battle over his son, Christopher, has caused it. He sips the coffee and... (full context)
Chapter 7: A to B
Time and Memory Theme Icon
Identity, Authenticity, and Meaning Theme Icon
Connection, Disconnection, and Technology Theme Icon
Fame, Art, and Popular Culture Theme Icon
Bennie and Stephanie have moved with their son Christopher to a wealthy community called Crandale. At this point,... (full context)
Time and Memory Theme Icon
Identity, Authenticity, and Meaning Theme Icon
...the Crandale Country Club. In the locker room, a woman named Kathy says hello to Stephanie. Stephanie recognizes her because Kathy’s son goes to Christopher’s school. Stephanie notes that her body... (full context)
Identity, Authenticity, and Meaning Theme Icon
Connection, Disconnection, and Technology Theme Icon
Fame, Art, and Popular Culture Theme Icon
Three weeks later, Stephanie and Bennie are invited to a party after a neighbor discovers that Bennie signed his... (full context)
Identity, Authenticity, and Meaning Theme Icon
Connection, Disconnection, and Technology Theme Icon
At the neighbor’s cocktail party, Stephanie talks with Kathy, who introduces Stephanie and Bennie to her husband, Clay. Clay wears seersucker... (full context)
Identity, Authenticity, and Meaning Theme Icon
Connection, Disconnection, and Technology Theme Icon
Stephanie and Kathy soon become successful tennis partners, playing against other Crandale women. Kathy’s status in... (full context)
Identity, Authenticity, and Meaning Theme Icon
Connection, Disconnection, and Technology Theme Icon
Ruin and Redemption  Theme Icon
...at Bennie, suggesting he may be a terrorist. They leave the party and Bennie asks Stephanie what he is doing living in a place like Crandale. Stephanie tries to defend the... (full context)
Identity, Authenticity, and Meaning Theme Icon
Connection, Disconnection, and Technology Theme Icon
Bennie begins giving Stephanie a hard time about playing tennis with Crandale women, whom he calls fascists. Stephanie is... (full context)
Time and Memory Theme Icon
Connection, Disconnection, and Technology Theme Icon
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Stephanie begins scheduling her tennis games later in the day so Bennie won’t see her in... (full context)
Fame, Art, and Popular Culture Theme Icon
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The following spring, Stephanie’s brother, Jules, is released from prison, where he’d spent five years for the attempted rape... (full context)
Connection, Disconnection, and Technology Theme Icon
Ruin and Redemption  Theme Icon
One morning, Bennie asks if Stephanie is driving to the city for work. She has begun leaving her tennis outfit at... (full context)
Identity, Authenticity, and Meaning Theme Icon
Stephanie cancels her game and, returning to the kitchen, finds Jules at the window. He asks... (full context)
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Connection, Disconnection, and Technology Theme Icon
Ruin and Redemption  Theme Icon
On the ride to the city, Jules mentions that he plans to join Stephanie in her meeting with Bosco. She wonders if this is some kind of punishment for... (full context)
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Identity, Authenticity, and Meaning Theme Icon
Connection, Disconnection, and Technology Theme Icon
Ruin and Redemption  Theme Icon
Jules admits it may just be Crandale that is making Stephanie and Bennie seem different. The place is packed with Republicans, and Jules can’t believe Stephanie... (full context)
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Fame, Art, and Popular Culture Theme Icon
Ruin and Redemption  Theme Icon
Before going upstairs, Stephanie explains that Bosco is different than he was when the Conduits were still playing. She... (full context)
Time and Memory Theme Icon
Identity, Authenticity, and Meaning Theme Icon
Connection, Disconnection, and Technology Theme Icon
Fame, Art, and Popular Culture Theme Icon
Ruin and Redemption  Theme Icon
Bosco tells Stephanie that he wants interviews and features in magazines. He wants to record every humiliation, depicting... (full context)
Time and Memory Theme Icon
Identity, Authenticity, and Meaning Theme Icon
Connection, Disconnection, and Technology Theme Icon
Ruin and Redemption  Theme Icon
Stephanie leaves feeling defeated, but Jules is thrilled by the new opportunity. He buys a planner... (full context)
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Fame, Art, and Popular Culture Theme Icon
After a second meeting, Stephanie goes to her boss’s office. Dolly (La Doll) tells Stephanie that she can feel her... (full context)
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Connection, Disconnection, and Technology Theme Icon
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Stephanie and Jules drive back to Crandale, where they pick Christopher up from soccer practice. He... (full context)
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When Bennie arrives home, he goes straight into the shower. Stephanie decides to get into the shower with him, remembering that they had bought the double... (full context)
Identity, Authenticity, and Meaning Theme Icon
Connection, Disconnection, and Technology Theme Icon
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Stephanie leaves the house and goes into the yard. She can’t understand why this instance of... (full context)
Chapter 13: Pure Language
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Identity, Authenticity, and Meaning Theme Icon
Connection, Disconnection, and Technology Theme Icon
...since she was a child because her mother, Dolly, was a friend with Bennie’s ex-wife, Stephanie. Their food arrives, and Bennie is careful not to wake Cara-Ann, who sleeps by his... (full context)
Time and Memory Theme Icon
Identity, Authenticity, and Meaning Theme Icon
Connection, Disconnection, and Technology Theme Icon
Fame, Art, and Popular Culture Theme Icon
Ruin and Redemption  Theme Icon
...office twenty-some-odd years ago and brought him a fish. After Bennie lost his job and Stephanie divorced him, he searched out Scotty. He asks Scotty what he told him, and Scotty... (full context)