Thursday, 27 October 2011

Genre: Memoir, Revelation and Disclosure

Last post focused on the life of Bruce Bechdel and his tragic story. For this post I want to draw focus on Alison’s relationship with her father, which is the basis of her memoir. The other tragedy in Alison’s story is her failure to identify and connect with her father when he was alive. It was only after his death and through the process of writing her memoir that began to understand thank and forgive her father. Throughout the memoir she stresses their boundless differences “I was Spartan to my fathers Athenian, Modern to his Victorian, Butch to his Nelly, utilitarian to his aesthete” (Bechdel 15). 

(Image: Page 15)

The memoir progressively reveals how much Alison and Bruce are alike. Both Alison and Bruce demonstrate their great passion for literature to each other, and Alison would later be able to credit her developed taste to her father and his mentoring. Alison’s intuitive ability to conjure allusions between her life in reality and the lives of characters in stories can be compared to her father’s own ability to do the same. With excitement he would coach her in literature, but he passed away before Alison could coach him in “coming out”, not just as a homosexual but to come out of his imaginary escape (living through the lives of characters in literature). In a letter he sent to Alison where “he does and doesn’t come out” (230) he implies how he wished that he could do what she did, comparing himself once again to a character in James Joyce’s Ulysses.

 (Image: Page 230)

Alison at the time was still unsure what his message exactly meant, but she couldn’t help feeling guilty when he died soon after she came out to her parents. She felt that her ‘coming out’ was the catalyst to his suicide. Her memoir reveals her appreciation for him in the end, which offers the readers as well as the author with a little bit of closure. In the memoir her domineering father was her constant coach. He coached her with literature and discreetly, and perhaps unknowingly coached her towards discovering her own sexual identity. 

(Image 1: Page 84), (Image 2: Page 201), (Image 3: Page 205) 

Memoir is also genre. A memoir highlights a moment, or experience in one’s life for the purpose of further discovery and understanding. Through Fun Home I believe that the author achieved further understanding and appreciation for her father. The author sees her relationship with her father as a tragic one.
(Image: Page 225)

Post by: Leanne Lau

Work Cited

Bechdel, Alison. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic. 1. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2006. 232. Print.

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