Childhood and Relationship with Father in the Fun Home

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Fun Home, by Alison Bechel, is a tragicomic based on Alison’s childhood and distant relationship with her father, Bruce. Alison and Bruce want to believe they are different when in reality they face similar inward struggles that ultimately result in broken ties between them. Bruce spends a lot of his time in their home library where he finds clarity and certainty through his books. As well as, Alison’s one profound breakthrough with herself is when she has gifted a journal and she can control her days without the interference of Bruce or reality. Alison uses the books her father reads, the movies they watch, and her own art forms to replace life – reality, Alison makes connections between her writings and his books about their life, relationships, and pain they both experience in silence. Bruce gifts her a journal which is one of the most compassionate gestures he does in her entire childhood. This journal becomes the one outlet to express her emotions, anger, and simply keep track of her days yet she chooses to skew her perceptions to only include what she wants. This is the beginning of her distorting the truth, but she enjoys writing because it is the one thing she can control and not have to share, however she then starts questioning herself. As she is questioning her own thoughts and feelings she begins to find certainty in specific words. She then shifts to drawing images next to a word she has searched further to find deeper meanings. “What is the father? Even the dictionary conveys vagueness and distance.” (197) “The new realization that I could illustrate my own fantasies filled me with an omnipotence that was in itself erotic” (Bechel, 170), This shows she finds comfort in knowing concrete definitions rather than writing vague thoughts, moreover she inserts an image for father– a word she uses daily but does not how they should be. 'The word entered my vocabulary, but not my diary. A sin of omission?'(Bechel,171) This pushes the point that she is aware her father is not being what society has considered a standard to be a dad yet she longs for his compassion.

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“It’s a Wonderful Life”, a classic drama film, depicts a man who lives a seemingly dream life with his family, but is contemplating suicide yet experiences an awaking and begins a new life for himself. Alison relates this story to her Bruce, Alison depicts how perfectly her father renovated their once, run-down looking house and how he even added details in the landscape. Her father had made their house look lively, warm, and lived in, yet it was all a facade that Bruce would maintain every day. She was part of that facade but often wondered if her father would find that “guardian angel” that could save him from hiding himself. “But in the movie when Jimmy Stewart comes home one night and starts yelling at everyone..It's out of the ordinary' (Bechel, 11) But in the end, Jimmy Stewart found his saving grace and Bruce was never able to come to terms with acceptance so he kept investing in his character within the boundaries of design and never found hope.

Earlier in her life, she recalls a family camping trip that she and her brother took with her father and Bill one summer. Alison and her brothers found a snake while going around and they all immediately run to Bill, who ends up not making it back in time to kill the snake. But on this same trip, Alison comes across a calendar of naked women, which sparks a major realization in Alison. 'I felt as if I'd been stripped naked myself, inexplicably ashamed, like Adam and Eve'( Bechel, 112). This is the first time she truly accepts she is attracted to women which can be connected to the snake. The snake symbolizes the temptation of Alison, Bruce, and Bill. As Alison will later find out Bill is her father’s secret lover, but Bruce is never able to come clean about it because he knows it would ruin his reality of having the dream home with the dream family. As well as, after Alison sees that calender with the purity of the women she has immediately taken from that image, but it still lingers in her mind– the temptation is driving her envies. “It’s obviously a phallus, yet more ancient and universal symbol of the feminine principle would be hard to come by.” (Bechel, 116) Not only is the snake also seen as evil, but it can also stand as a reference to a heterosexual person who can be out, confident, or evil but then whisk away and not feel pain something Alison and Bruce have not conquered within themselves.

Icarus and Daedalus, Greek mythological figures who are seen to have wisdom and power, Alison compare Bruce to both as he switches his power. 'For if my father was Icarus, he was also Daedalus–– that skillful artificer, that mad scientist who built the wings for his son and designed the famous labyrinth... And who answered not to the laws of society, but those of his craft' (Beckel, 7). Alison compared the two to represent her relationship with her father because he has a talent for interior design but also uses his skill as a coping mechanism. She compares Bruce’s suppression of his sexulatity to Icarus’s faults as well as Bruce wanted to please society more than his family.

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