Children of Divorce
A theme that stood out to me, in Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad, was the effects on children caused by divorce. Adults whose parents have divorced are likely to experience serious social, emotional and psychological troubles (Arkowitz). One of the main characters in Egan’s book, Sasha, experiences divorce at a young age, which results in an unstable life. Jennifer Egan can relate to Sasha, since was also a child of divorce, at the early age of two. Egan refers to her adolescences as being “manifestly uneasy” (Kellogg). Divorce researcher Dr. Judith Wallerstein claims: Divorce is a life-transforming experience. After divorce, childhood is different. Adolescence is different. Adulthood—with the decision to marry or not and have children or not—is different. Whether the outcome is good or bad, the whole trajectory of an individual’s life is profoundly altered by the divorce experience (Davey). Although I have never experienced a divorce within my family, it is clear that with divorce comes some kind of change. Ones life will no longer be the same, especially for children, who often look up to their parents with great admiration. In the chapter, “Good-bye, My Love,” Sasha is living in Naples alone, two years after running away from home at age seventeen. “Disappeared like her father, Andy Grady, a berserk financier with violet eyes who’d walked away from a bad business deal a year after his divorce with Beth and hadn’t been heard from again” (Egan 213). Another connection I made to Jennifer Egan was that her stepfather, who eventually also divorced her mother, was an investment banker (Kellogg). Before Andy’s disappearance, life in the Grady household was tough. In one summer alone, Sasha’s mother, Beth, received two dislocations of her left shoulder and a broken collarbone from her husband (Egan 218). Although Sasha had her uncle Ted, who took her out of the house during some fights, problems are visible to children in high-conflict marriages (Fackrell & Hawkins). Uncle Ted remembers the times Sasha and him had together before she became a “glowering presence” (Egan 213). “He would carry her in his arms, light as a cat in her red-and-white two-piece, set her on a towel, and rub cream onto her shoulders and back and face, her tiny nose–she must have been five–and wonder what would become of her, growing up amid so much violence” (Egan 218). Much did become of Sasha, after running away with a musician on tour and never looking back at her past. As previously mentioned, emotional problems are a consequence received by children of divorce. According to the article, “Should I Keep Trying To Work it Out,” some ways to express emotional insecurity include: engaging in crimes, frequent guilt, isolation or withdrawal from friends and family, drug and/or alcohol abuse, early sexual activity and thoughts of suicide or violence (Fackwell & Hawkins). As we learn more about Sasha through out the novel, she holds truth to all of those statistics. Through out most of the book, Sasha is unable overcome her problem of stealing things she never uses. We see many things she steals, some which she returns and most she does not. She steals a wallet from a women in the bathroom of a hotel, a piece of paper from her dates wallet, bath salts from an ex best friend, her uncle ted’s wallet and her boss’ gold flakes. She lost her job as being Bennie Salazar’s assistant, for twelve years, due to her “sticky fingers”(Egan 338). While living in her New York apartment, Sasha had tables for her “found objects,” some of the items included pens, binoculars, a screwdriver, keys, and child’s scarf. Sasha is going to therapy for her kleptomania, but does not seem very determined to change. This problem starts back at thirteen years old, when she stole with her friends. It continued into adulthood, as she was desperate for money (Egan 194). She would sell stolen items to a man named Lars, who then began paying Sasha for sex. “A...
Cited: Arkowitz, Hal. et al., “Is Divorce Bad for Children?” Scientific American Mind. Scientific American Mag., 14 Feb. 2013. Web. 7 Apr. 2014.
Egan, Jennifer. A Visit from the Goon Squad. New York: Anchor Books, 2011. Print.
Egan, Jennifer. “West Village June 2008.” Jenniferegan.com. Jennifer Egan. Web. 10
Fackrell, Tamara, and Alan Hawkins. “Should I Keep Trying To Work it Out?”
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Fagan, Patrick. “The Effects of Divorce on Children.” Worldcongress.org.
World Congress of Families. 8 Nov. 1999. Web. 9 Apr. 2014.
Kellogg, Carolyn. “Jennifer Egan’s trajectory through life.” Articles.latimes.com. LA
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