A Visit from the Goon Squad

The Body and Appearance Symbol Analysis

The Body and Appearance Symbol Icon

Attention to the body is constant in A Visit from the Goon Squad. Bodies often serve as the location of identity for individuals, and comparing one’s body to another’s allows these characters to establish their meaning in the world. In the novel, the body can be manipulated to establish identity and distinguish oneself. This is most clearly depicted in the story, “Ask Me If I Care.” Rhea dies her hair to establish a punk identity, and her attention to Jocelyn’s blond hair serves as a reference point against which she can gauge her authenticity. It also becomes an important element in the story “A to B”, as Bennie and Stephanie attempt to establish themselves and find acceptance in Crandale, but are judged by their appearances. The body is also a symbol that points the reader toward the theme of time. A Visit from the Goon Squad focuses on the ways in which the human body ages and fails. In the novel’s first story, “Found Objects,” Sasha focuses on Alex’s body and notes that he is fit because he is young. Later, in the story “You (Plural)”, Lou’s power has diminished with the failing of his body. The body is the site of meaning in the novel, and the way in which characters focus on their own bodies and the bodies of others works to reveal their true natures.

The Body and Appearance Quotes in A Visit from the Goon Squad

The A Visit from the Goon Squad quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Body and Appearance. 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 numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer 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:
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Chapter 2 Quotes

Bennie's assistant, Sasha, brought him coffee: cream and two sugars. He shimmied a tiny red enameled box from his pocket, popped the tricky latch, pinched a few gold flakes between his trembling fingers, and released them into his cup. He'd begun this regimen two months ago, after reading in a book on Aztec medicine that gold and coffee together were believed to ensure sexual potency. Bennie's goal was more basic than potency: sex drive, his own having mysteriously expired.

Related Characters: Bennie Salazar (speaker), Sasha Blake
Related Symbols: The Body and Appearance
Page Number: 21-22
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

Then the sisters began to sing. Oh, the raw, almost threadbare sound of their voices mixed with the clash of instruments—these sensations met with a faculty deeper in Bennie than judgment or even pleasure; they communed directly with his body…And here was his first erection in months…He seized the cowbell and stick and began whacking at it with zealous blows. He felt the music in his mouth, his ears, his ribs—or was that his own pulse? He was on fire!

Related Characters: Bennie Salazar (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Body and Appearance
Page Number: 30
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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The Body and Appearance Symbol Timeline in A Visit from the Goon Squad

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Body and Appearance 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
...he wants to go somewhere else, and he agrees. As he stands, she examines his body. She can tell he is in very good shape, not because he works out, but... (full context)
Identity, Authenticity, and Meaning Theme Icon
Connection, Disconnection, and Technology Theme Icon
Ruin and Redemption Theme Icon
...she has a problem with stealing. Sasha then feels a warm rush, as if her body and the woman’s had fused together. (full context)
Chapter 2: The Gold Cure
Time and Memory Theme Icon
Identity, Authenticity, and Meaning Theme Icon
Ruin and Redemption Theme Icon
...sips the coffee and looks at Sasha’s breasts, seeking the feeling of arousal in his body. He feels nothing. (full context)
Chapter 3: Ask Me If I Care
Time and Memory Theme Icon
Identity, Authenticity, and Meaning Theme Icon
Fame, Art, and Popular Culture Theme Icon
Ruin and Redemption Theme Icon
...one by one. Rhea starts to cry. Lou gets close and Rhea focuses on Lou’s body, stating that it looks like someone has walked on his skin and left footprints. The... (full context)
Chapter 4: Safari
Time and Memory Theme Icon
Identity, Authenticity, and Meaning Theme Icon
...on Chronos’s chest, which he finds less startling than his potbelly. Lou notices that Chronos’s body looks like the body a father, but notes that his own body is healthy and... (full context)
Chapter 5: You (Plural)
Time and Memory Theme Icon
Connection, Disconnection, and Technology Theme Icon
Ruin and Redemption Theme Icon
...figure out if being born on the same day had left a clue on their bodies. (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
...hurry up the fish will begin to stink. Eventually, Bennie comes out. Scotty observes Bennie’s body, noticing that he looks fit and wears expensive clothes that seem to glow. Bennie puts... (full context)
Chapter 7: A to B
Time and Memory Theme Icon
Identity, Authenticity, and Meaning Theme Icon
...Stephanie. Stephanie recognizes her because Kathy’s son goes to Christopher’s school. Stephanie notes that her body has been unchanged by childbearing. After leaving the locker room, Stephanie meets Bennie and Christopher... (full context)
Chapter 9: Forty-Minute Lunch: Kitty Jackson Opens Up About Love, Fame, and Nixon!
Time and Memory Theme Icon
Identity, Authenticity, and Meaning Theme Icon
Connection, Disconnection, and Technology Theme Icon
Ruin and Redemption Theme Icon
...remembers a failed sexual encounter with his ex-fiancé as he pins Kitty down with his body. Jules feels rage, desiring to cut Kitty open or tear her apart and plunge his... (full context)
Chapter 10: Out of Body
Time and Memory Theme Icon
Identity, Authenticity, and Meaning Theme Icon
Connection, Disconnection, and Technology Theme Icon
...layers of hash smoke in the sun. Drew’s arm is around Sasha. Rob admires Drew’s body, which is healthy because of his love of swimming. Rob tells Drew not to try... (full context)
Time and Memory Theme Icon
Identity, Authenticity, and Meaning Theme Icon
Connection, Disconnection, and Technology Theme Icon
Ruin and Redemption Theme Icon
...and holding her while she cried. Rob knows everything about Sasha, the particularities of her body, and everyone believed they were dating. The biggest regret of Rob’s life is not sleeping... (full context)
Time and Memory Theme Icon
Identity, Authenticity, and Meaning Theme Icon
Connection, Disconnection, and Technology Theme Icon
...he imagines it like Judgment Day, when everyone will rise out of his or her bodies and meet someplace else where you never lose anyone or get lost. Rob asks if... (full context)
Identity, Authenticity, and Meaning Theme Icon
Ruin and Redemption Theme Icon
...out of garbage. Rob follows him, and Drew begins to undress. Rob looks at Drew’s body, which is as strong and tight as he had imagined, though he finds it thinner... (full context)
Chapter 12: Great Rock and Roll Pauses
Connection, Disconnection, and Technology Theme Icon
Ruin and Redemption Theme Icon
...cool, but Alison feels the heat from the earth like heat coming from a person’s body. She can’t tell if she can feel it through her shoes, but she crouches and... (full context)