Alison Bechdel’s “Fun Home

Alison Bechdel’s “Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic” is an autobiography graphic novel that bring her story to life. Alison Bechdel wrote this book about her childhood and the relationship she had with her father and one of the many things they shared in common, their sexual orientation. In addition Alison and Bruce Bechdel share artistic skills, even using her artistic skills to go as far as describe the father and daughter relationship they had, “I was Spartan to my father’s Athenian. Modern to his Victorian.
Butch to his nelly. Utilitarian to his aesthete.” This difference was a source of strain in their relationship, as both tried to express their discontent with their given gender roles “Not only were we inverts, we were inversions of each other. While I was trying to compensate for something unmanly in him, he was attempting to express something feminine through me. It was a war of cross-purposes, and so doomed to perpetual escalation.”
At the center of where it all begins at “Fun Home,” Alison helps us imagine her desperate need to make a connection with her father, Bruce Allen Bechdel. Father and daughter are playing a game of airplane that ends almost as soon as it started because of her father’s obsession with keeping his old Victorian house he personally restored and what seems to always want kept in perfect condition. Bruce “could spin garbage into gold” Alison makes it clear by telling her story that he was so distant, that even before his death, she “ached as if he were already gone.”
Before Bruce’s death, him and Alison have a conversation in the car, which Bruce confesses some of his sexual history; this is presented as a partial resolution to the conflict between father and daughter. Partial since, Bruce was mostly avoiding the conversation and just stating some past memories, and ignoring the fact Alison was trying to show she was the same as him.
Although Bruce’s death was assumed to be an accident, it was also a tragedy that started a long time before his life had even began which is why Alison suspected suicide because of the evidence. Four months prior to his death, she came out to her mother that she was in fact a lesbian, she writes, “If I had not felt compelled to share my little sexual secret, perhaps the semi would have passed without incident.” This statement shows a hidden connection between father and daughter. Her mother also shared the news while Alison was away at college about her husband’s affairs with men and interest in young boys. Last but not least, two weeks before his passing, his wife asked for a divorce.
Although these series of events that led up to Bruce’s death may seem very tragic, it allowed Alison to tell not just a story about herself but her father’s struggle to let his secret out as well. One of the most important key points in Alison Bechdel’s memoir is the connection both her and Bruce shared was expressing their sexuality through literature which plays a important role in Alison’s self discovery.
She writes “My realization at 19 that I was a lesbian came about in a manner consistent with my bookish upbringing,” Alison chose to accept the fact and to not hide from the issue, she was open about her sexuality before she’d even been in a homosexual relationship. But her Father, Bruce, had countless affairs with men but wasn’t open about it, this may be due to him being afraid of coming out.
The bittersweet relationship of family is shown again and again in “Fun Home.” The memoir ends with two images that portray the bad and good times. The top half of the final page shows the truck about to strike; the bottom half shows daughter, jumping into the pool, waiting to be caught in her father’s arms.