A Visit from the Goon Squad

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Pauses Symbol Icon

Pauses serve a symbolic function in A Visit from the Goon Squad, pointing readers toward the passage of time, and imitating the ups and downs of the characters’ lives. Structurally, the interwoven narratives in the novel are often put on pause and returned to after time has passed. In this way, the novel imitates an album. These pauses, however, are not static. The pauses are packed with meaning. Within them, story continues to unfold, and characters continue to develop.

Pauses often point toward the idea of life and death. In the story “Great Rock and Roll Pauses,” Sasha suggests that pauses in rock music make you think the song will end, and one is relieved that they keep going. So many of the novel’s characters have this experience in their lives. They believe they are ruined, that they will never regain their lives, but often times they are just experiencing pauses in their relationships, health, or careers. Moments of pause within the stories are often moments of reflection and connection for these characters, an opportunity to reflect on the way in which things have changed. Like an album, these characters pause between the songs of their lived experience. For some, the album continues, and for others it comes to an end.

Pauses Quotes in A Visit from the Goon Squad

The A Visit from the Goon Squad quotes below all refer to the symbol of Pauses. 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 13 Quotes

At last he found Rebecca, smiling, holding Cara-Ann in her arms. She was dancing. They were too far away for Alex to reach them, and the distance felt irrevocable, a chasm that would keep him from ever again touching the delicate silk of Rebecca's eyelids, or feeling, through his daughter's ribs, the scramble of her heartbeat. Without the zoom, he couldn't even see them. In desperation, he T'd Rebecca, pls wAt 4me, my bUtiful wyf, then kept his zoom trained on her face until he saw her register the vibration, pause in her dancing, and reach for it.

Related Characters: Alex (speaker), Rebecca , Cara-Ann
Related Symbols: Pauses
Page Number: 337
Explanation and Analysis:

Through this chapter, Alex has been struggling to find connection with his wife Rebecca. Much of the tension in their relationship revolves around the use of technology. Alex has taken a job doing social media marketing for Bennie, and has been unable to admit to Rebecca that he is engaging in this work. Rebecca condemns this kind of work, and Alex feels a conflict within his own identity around the ethics of the job. Over the course of the chapter, however, he begins to see the benefits of technology as a connective force, though he remains unable to share this with Rebecca.

At Scotty’s concert, which Alex has promoted, Alex feels his disconnection from his wife strongly. He seeks her out using his handset (similar to an iPhone). His distance from Rebecca and his daughter spatially speaks to the disconnection they have experienced through the chapter. In this moment, however, technology serves as a connective force, allowing Alex to bridge the gap between them and reach out to his wife. The fact that he texts her is an act of authenticity—he transcends his fear of Rebecca’s judgment and expresses himself honestly through his newfound appreciation of technology.

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Pauses Symbol Timeline in A Visit from the Goon Squad

The timeline below shows where the symbol Pauses 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
Connection, Disconnection, and Technology Theme Icon
Fame, Art, and Popular Culture Theme Icon
Ruin and Redemption  Theme Icon
...on the World, which was in the World Trade Center. Bennie waits out a respectful pause, and then changes the subject back to the band. Bennie tries to rationalize the band’s... (full context)
Chapter 6: X’s and O’s
Time and Memory Theme Icon
Identity, Authenticity, and Meaning Theme Icon
Connection, Disconnection, and Technology Theme Icon
...she divorced him. Bennie tells Scotty he worked hard for what he has. A strange pause ensues, during which Scotty grapples with the past and the loss of his friend. He... (full context)
Chapter 8: Selling the General
Connection, Disconnection, and Technology Theme Icon
Fame, Art, and Popular Culture Theme Icon
Ruin and Redemption  Theme Icon
...his short stature and sullied military uniform. He looks tired and grumpy. There is a pause in which no one, including The General, seems to know what to do. (full context)
Chapter 11: Good-bye, My Love
Time and Memory Theme Icon
Identity, Authenticity, and Meaning Theme Icon
Connection, Disconnection, and Technology Theme Icon
Ruin and Redemption  Theme Icon
...says she has had a hard time, though she won’t admit it. There is a pause, and then Sasha tells Ted she used to think she saw her father in China... (full context)
Chapter 12: Great Rock and Roll Pauses
Time and Memory Theme Icon
Identity, Authenticity, and Meaning Theme Icon
Ruin and Redemption  Theme Icon
...describes Lincoln. He looks like his father, Drew, but is skinnier. He is obsessed with pauses in great rock and roll songs. Alison states that Lincoln knows more than grownups about... (full context)
Identity, Authenticity, and Meaning Theme Icon
Connection, Disconnection, and Technology Theme Icon
Fame, Art, and Popular Culture Theme Icon
Lincoln loops the pause in each song so it sounds like it lasts for minutes. When Alison’s friends are... (full context)
Identity, Authenticity, and Meaning Theme Icon
Connection, Disconnection, and Technology Theme Icon
...following slide shows just their father’s response, telling Lincoln that what he says about the pause in “Fly Like an Eagle” is good to know. (full context)
Connection, Disconnection, and Technology Theme Icon
Ruin and Redemption  Theme Icon
...He clamps them over her ears. The music stops, and Alison waits through a long pause for it to start again. After a minute, she asks if that is the end... (full context)
Identity, Authenticity, and Meaning Theme Icon
Connection, Disconnection, and Technology Theme Icon
Fame, Art, and Popular Culture Theme Icon
...He agrees to let Lincoln play some music. Lincoln plays some music, and analyzes the pauses. Drew whispers to Sasha, asking if they should encourage Lincoln’s obsession, and whether it will... (full context)
Time and Memory Theme Icon
Connection, Disconnection, and Technology Theme Icon
Ruin and Redemption  Theme Icon
Drew tries to ask Lincoln why the pauses matter so much to him, but Lincoln continues analyzing different songs. Eventually, Drew yells at... (full context)
Connection, Disconnection, and Technology Theme Icon
Ruin and Redemption  Theme Icon
...for them, that they are sleeping. Alison hears the silence in the desert like the pauses in Lincoln’s songs. She says the whole desert is a pause. Drew admits that he... (full context)
Time and Memory Theme Icon
Connection, Disconnection, and Technology Theme Icon
Fame, Art, and Popular Culture Theme Icon
Ruin and Redemption  Theme Icon
...asks if he has ever heard of a band called the Frames that have a pause of more than a minute in one of their songs. Drew says Sasha used to... (full context)
Chapter 13: Pure Language
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
...to become a star. Scotty had dared him to do it. There is a long pause, and then Scotty jumps to his feet and lunges for the door, trying to escape.... (full context)