A Visit from the Goon Squad

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The Sun Symbol Analysis

The Sun Symbol Icon

The sun is a constant symbol throughout the novel, and serves to point the reader toward the passage of time, and also the theme of ruin and redemption. The presence of the sun is linked to both the destructive force of time on the lives of the characters, and also moments where time has landed them in situations that are stable and joyous. For example, in the story, “Ask Me If I Care,” Scotty stares at the sun with such intensity that it damages his eyes. This harmful act is associated with the death of his mother, which points toward the idea of time and ruin. More often than not, however, the sun symbolizes both ruin and redemption at once. While visiting Lou, Jocelyn fondly remembers watching the sunrise with Lou’s son, Rolph, comparing it to a baby, and imagining they could hold it in their arms. In this moment, the sun stands as an image of hope, but this hope is also backdropped by the knowledge that Rolph has gone on to commit suicide. The same is true of the sunrise in the story, “Out of Body.” The sunrise marks the day of Rob’s drowning, but also suggests hope for Sasha as she transitions toward a better life. Though the sun, as a symbol, has several shades of meaning through out the novel, it undoubtedly alludes to the passage of time, and serves to illuminate the experience of loss and hope the characters endure, often in the same instant.

The Sun Quotes in A Visit from the Goon Squad

The A Visit from the Goon Squad quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Sun. 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 1 Quotes

She could tell that [Alex] was in excellent shape, not from going to the gym but from being young enough that his body was still imprinted with whatever sports he'd played in high school and college. Sasha, who was thirty-five, had passed that point. Still, not even Coz knew her real age. The closest anyone had come to guessing it was thirty-one, and most put her in her twenties. She worked out daily and avoided the sun. Her online profiles all listed her as twenty-eight.

Related Characters: Sasha Blake (speaker), Coz
Related Symbols: The Sun, The Body and Appearance
Page Number: 6
Explanation and Analysis:

Scenes of Sasha’s date with Alex are interwoven with her therapy session with Coz, and they work together to establish Sasha’s character and explore her insecurity about aging and her struggle with authenticity. In the novel, the body is a symbol that depicts the often-ruinous impact of time. Likewise, the sun symbolically speaks to the passage of time. Both symbols then work to illuminate Sasha’s character in this quote.

Sasha’s attention to Alex’s body speaks both to her insecurity about her own age and her understanding that the body reflects the impact of time. Alex has not been subjected to the ruinous effects of time yet, the way Sasha has. Sasha struggles to come to terms with the fact that she is aging—she avoids the sun (which can make people get wrinkles earlier, but in the novel also generally represents passing time) and keeps a gym routine in an attempt to combat aging. Her online profiles and lies to Coz further depict her insecurity and her inability to be authentic even with those closest to her. Likewise, the fact that her online profiles give her the capacity to deceive others also speaks to the way in which technology can serve as force of disconnection in the lives of the novel’s characters.

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Chapter 4 Quotes

"Women are cunts," his father says. "That's why.”

"They are not—" He can't make himself repeat the word.
"They are," Lou says tightly. "Pretty soon you'll know it for sure."
Rolph turns away from his father. There is nowhere to go, so he jumps into the sea and begins slowly paddling back toward shore. The sun is low, the water choppy and full of shadows. Rolph imagines sharks just under his feet, but he doesn't turn or look back.

Related Characters: Lou Kline (speaker), Rolph
Related Symbols: The Sun, Water
Page Number: 78-79
Explanation and Analysis:

The connection and disconnection between Rolph and his father Lou is highlighted in this chapter. Rolph, a naïve young boy, admires his father, despite his father’s ruinous self-centeredness and misogynistic views. Until this point, Rolph accepts his father’s views as truth. But when Rolph reveals that Mindy has cheated on Lou, Lou reacts by calling her a “cunt,” which reveals the depth of his hatred toward women—a fundamental component of his identity.

In this moment, then, Rolph intuits the destructiveness of Lou’s views, and rejects them. This rejection marks the commencement of his journey toward the development of his own identity independent of his father’s. The fact that the sun is setting symbolically marks the end of their connection as father and son, and the menacing nature of the water speaks to the ruin Lou has created with his views, and the more adult world Rolph is entering in disconnecting from his father.

Chapter 11 Quotes

On another day more than twenty years after this one, after Sasha had gone to college and settled in New York; after she'd reconnected on Facebook with her college boyfriend and married late (when Beth had nearly given up hope) and had two children, one of whom was slightly autistic…Ted, long divorced—a grandfather—would visit Sasha at home in the California desert…And for an instant he would remember Naples: sitting with Sasha in her tiny room; the jolt of surprise and delight he'd felt when the sun finally dropped into the center of her window and was captured inside her circle of wire.
Now he turned to her, grinning. Her hair and face were aflame with orange light.
"See," Sasha muttered, eyeing the sun. "It's mine."

Related Characters: Sasha Blake (speaker), Ted Hollander
Related Symbols: The Sun
Page Number: 233
Explanation and Analysis:

This quote is a flash-forward that occurs while Ted is with Sasha in Naples. He has finally found connection with her, and they share a moment of authenticity in her room as the sun sets. The sun as a symbol generally represents the theme of time, and the flash-forward reveals that the sunset signifies an end to this period of Sasha’s life, and the beginning of her journey toward something better. The novel’s flash-forwards generally reveal whether the characters find redemption or end up in a state of ruin.

Sasha is one of the few characters in the novel that finds redemption. She reconnects with Drew through Facebook, which depicts the way in which technology plays a role in the way people connect in the future. She eventually finds stability, and has a family. Ted, however, loses his marriage as the result of his inability to manage the two components of his identity that are at odds in the story.

The end of the quote then jumps back to Naples, as Sasha claims that the sun is “mine.” This is a reminder of her fear of time and aging—later in life she avoids the sun altogether—but also her addiction to stealing. It’s as if she desires to possess and control the sun itself, to steal the idea of time and thus escape its effects.

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The Sun Symbol Timeline in A Visit from the Goon Squad

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Sun appears in A Visit from the Goon Squad. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: Found Objects
Time and Memory Theme Icon
Identity, Authenticity, and Meaning Theme Icon
Connection, Disconnection, and Technology Theme Icon
Ruin and Redemption  Theme Icon
...and the closest anyone has come is 31. She works out daily and avoids the sun. Her online profiles say she is 28. (full context)
Chapter 2: The Gold Cure
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Identity, Authenticity, and Meaning Theme Icon
Fame, Art, and Popular Culture Theme Icon
Ruin and Redemption  Theme Icon
...twenty years prior. After a night of partying, Bennie hid behind a fence as the sun rose, listening to cloistered nuns sing. The sound of their voices is magical to Bennie.... (full context)
Chapter 3: Ask Me If I Care
Time and Memory Theme Icon
Identity, Authenticity, and Meaning Theme Icon
Connection, Disconnection, and Technology Theme Icon
Ruin and Redemption  Theme Icon
...Scotty. As a young boy, when his mother went away, Scotty would stare at the sun. There are permanent smudges in his vision now, but he likes them because they remind... (full context)
Time and Memory Theme Icon
Identity, Authenticity, and Meaning Theme Icon
Connection, Disconnection, and Technology Theme Icon
...who are working on a science project, on the balcony. She looks straight into the sun, the way Scotty did. Jocelyn comes out a short while later, overjoyed. She tells Rhea... (full context)
Chapter 4: Safari
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Connection, Disconnection, and Technology Theme Icon
Ruin and Redemption  Theme Icon
...father for saying this. Rolph turns and begins swimming back through the water as the sunsets. He imagines sharks under him, but he doesn’t look back at his father. He knows... (full context)
Chapter 5: You (Plural)
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...and is trying to finish her B.A. at UCLA. She notes that some mornings the sun looks wrong outside her window. She feels like everything has gone past her, and left... (full context)
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Identity, Authenticity, and Meaning Theme Icon
Connection, Disconnection, and Technology Theme Icon
Ruin and Redemption  Theme Icon
...Jocelyn is doing this, not realizing that Jocelyn has experienced a mental blank spot. The sun hurts Jocelyn’s eyes, so she closes them. Jocelyn imagines pushing Lou into the water and... (full context)
Time and Memory Theme Icon
Identity, Authenticity, and Meaning Theme Icon
Ruin and Redemption  Theme Icon
...roof with Rolph, watching a party by the pool. They waited all night for the sun to rise. When it rose, Rolph said it was like a baby. Jocelyn cried, and... (full context)
Chapter 6: X’s and O’s
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...allows himself to think about Alice for a moment, and sees her standing in the sun, not angry or afraid, which is how he made her feel. (full context)
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Identity, Authenticity, and Meaning Theme Icon
Connection, Disconnection, and Technology Theme Icon
Ruin and Redemption  Theme Icon
...next day, Scotty goes fishing with two of his friends, Sammy and Dave. As the sun rises, he feels renewed, and feels the urge to jump into the river and swim.... (full context)
Chapter 7: A to B
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Fame, Art, and Popular Culture Theme Icon
Ruin and Redemption  Theme Icon
...is different than he was when the Conduits were still playing. She looks at the sun reflecting off of the cobblestone street, and remembers shooting the Conduits first album cover years... (full context)
Chapter 8: Selling the General
Identity, Authenticity, and Meaning Theme Icon
Fame, Art, and Popular Culture Theme Icon
Ruin and Redemption  Theme Icon
...and the sparkle of water. When they step out of the car, Dolly feels the sun on her neck. Her hair has recently been cut and dyed blond again. Kitty takes... (full context)
Chapter 10: Out of Body
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Identity, Authenticity, and Meaning Theme Icon
Connection, Disconnection, and Technology Theme Icon
...being president one day. He looks at Drew through layers of hash smoke in the sun. Drew’s arm is around Sasha. Rob admires Drew’s body, which is healthy because of his... (full context)
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Identity, Authenticity, and Meaning Theme Icon
Connection, Disconnection, and Technology Theme Icon
...from his suicide attempt in Florida, Sasha and Drew went to Washington and watched the sun rise over the Mall the day Bill Clinton was elected. They told him they felt... (full context)
Identity, Authenticity, and Meaning Theme Icon
Connection, Disconnection, and Technology Theme Icon
Fame, Art, and Popular Culture Theme Icon
Ruin and Redemption  Theme Icon
...was unable to do the same. Rob wonders again what Sasha felt like watching the sun rise in Washington D.C., and whether other people felt it too. They arrive at the... (full context)
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Identity, Authenticity, and Meaning Theme Icon
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...club, Rob, Drew, and Bix eat breakfast, and then go to the East River. The sun is rising, and Drew says he wishes he could swim in the water. He says... (full context)
Chapter 11: Good-bye, My Love
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Ruin and Redemption  Theme Icon
...red hair at the time, he remembers. When the sand was too hot from the sun, Ted would carry Sasha in his arms, set her on a towel and put sunscreen... (full context)
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...afternoon, Sasha opens the door and lets Ted inside. The room is small, and the sun is just beginning to set. The windowsill is full of objects that Ted assumes are... (full context)
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Identity, Authenticity, and Meaning Theme Icon
Connection, Disconnection, and Technology Theme Icon
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...he remembers her room in Naples, and the jolt of surprise he experienced when the sun dropped into the center of the window and was captured in the wire coat hanger.... (full context)
Chapter 13: Pure Language
Identity, Authenticity, and Meaning Theme Icon
Ruin and Redemption  Theme Icon
...her about his job with Bennie. They are hurrying to get to the river before sunset, which has been pushed back due to global warming. By the time they reach the... (full context)
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Identity, Authenticity, and Meaning Theme Icon
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As the sun sets, a hush encloses the crowd at the wall. Cara-Ann runs off, and Rebecca peruses... (full context)
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Lulu stands before Scotty, the sun reflecting in her hair. Scotty hesitates, and Alex realizes that Scotty has lost the fight.... (full context)