Thursday, 10 November 2011

"Fun Home" : Significance of the Title S.S

Illustrated Cutaway from the novel on Alison's take of her "home". 

Alison Bechdel's graphic novel/memoir, "Fun Home", is something of a blueprint as to what has become of the typical American up-bringing, focusing on the significance of the teen years in building an individual.
       Growing up in rural Pennsylvania, Bechdel highlights such issues as torn relationships, dysfunctional family life, homosexuality, suicide, gender roles, and mental disorders such as OCD. Told through both images and text, Bechdel documents the realization of her sexual orientation and her father's demise in relation to her childhood, and its impact on her growing up; all which did not add up to a "fun home".
       The title is both ironic, opposite in meaning and humorous. Where at first one might assume it lends itself to a perhaps childish and playful mood, it quickly becomes obvious that it's rather a literary allusion and play on words. The subtitle “A Tragicomedy” also signals an interesting theme prevalent throughout the book: opposites and their convergence.   
       The ironic titles draw the reader in and allow them to engage in the story; once you understand the underlying meaning, you feel more connected to the work, which is a very powerful tool Alison uses in her writing. Literary allusion, the influence of literature on life, and the influence of life on the interpretation of literature play a prominent role in the text. Alison shares her father’s interest in literature, and these literary elements provide a wealth of opportunities for enriching the narrative and the character analysis, not to mention, adding to the reader's interest and connection to the work. 
      One meaning to "Fun Home" plays itself out on page 36 where we learn that the family refers to the family funeral business as the "fun home" rather then "funeral home". However, on a much deeper level, "Fun Home" displays Bechdel's utterly humorous and light hearted way of looking at her own difficult life, a common way of coping. 
      Bechdel's father often renovated the home that they lived in, a beautiful, gigantic "mansion" as people liked to comment on (pg 8). This was truly a facade and a perfect example of how- throughtout the 60s, 70s and 80s-, living the "American Dream" was a rigid and unattainable goal, where the white picket fence served as a distraction to the real chaos and dysfunction of many families. The ironicism of the title portrays the life of American's "behind the scenes" if you will, and how families present themselves to keep up with appearances. 
      Futher, the word "home" in the title led me to think about the significance of Bechdel's leave for college, where she began to understand herself and escape her dysfunction as she meets Joan, her first girlfriend and first sexual lesbian experience. "Home" rather, could also be seen as her "head space" or "true home", referring to her college dorm, where fun truly did occur in a non-ironic or sarcastic way. 
      In analyzing a story, a title is always important to take into consideration as it is the first piece of information one takes in before they even begin reading. Bechdel's choosing of the title "Fun Home" says a lot. It shows how she can look back and recollect with a sense of humor and peace, but it also really comments on how the American life is lived behind the scenes and the complete opposite portrayal families present on the outside.

Just yesterday it was revealed that "Fun Home" is in the works to become a stage musical via the Sundance Institute Theater Program!

Posted by Sabrina


"Enter the Labyrinth of Family Dynamics / Troubled Relationship with Her Dad Draws out Meaty Tale from Comic Strip Artist Alison Bechdel - SFGate."Featured Articles From The SFGate. 18 June 2006. Web. 25 Nov. 2011. <>.

"SheWired - Alison Bechdel's Graphic Novel 'Fun Home' to Become a Stage Musical." SheWired - The World's Fastest Growing Site for Women Gay, Straight and In-between. Web. 25 Nov. 2011. <>.


  1. !! Wow! I'm really curious how they are going to execute it. I can defiantly see it being a stage play, but a musical thats just interesting! I'm so curious at this moment how they are going to pull it off (which I do believe it can be done). I believe they have an opportunity to bring out the more humorous parts of her memoir. A singing and dancing tragic comedy. Awesome :)
    Thanks for the post :)


  2. Great analysis of the title :) I always love the irony of it! Truly she makes the title itself so interesting and full of significance. I liked how you analyzed the gravity of the word "home" (as a single word and significance it plays in the memoir). You proposed an excellent question that we can all ask our selves, the notion of "home", what does it mean to us and where else mentally can we find that sensation of being "home".
    Great stuff :)


  3. Thanks Leanne!

    What can I say, I tried hahah. I find it very interesting myself as someone who has dreams (maybe) to be a novelist. The title truly does make you either want to read a book or not, and having significance and depth to it just makes it all that much better. She really considered all aspects of the memoir and didn't flake out on anything which is nice to see; I've read graphic novels in the past where the images were the only good thing, or the narrative was the only good part; it's nice to read one where everything is considered, including the panels on each page (which I'll be posting about this week, ahha )

    I have no idea how the stage musical will do in the mainstream world! I'm excited and think it's a great step for the LGBT community, but I'm curious to see how a more mature and traditional crowd takes it!

    Thanks again, Leanne!

    - Sabrina