Alison Bechdel’s Use of Artifice in Fun Home

Fun Home; A Family Tragicomic author, Alison Bechdel captures the story the of her childhood through comic book elements. Text is accompanied by a visual media, which allows the reader to not only visualize the story through the reading, but also by the author’s drawing–an element that allows the reader to gain certain knowledge of the story without having to have the text explained. For example Bechdel included some of her father’s text into the reading such as “wash these old curtains so we can put up the hand-embroidered lace one I found in Mrs. Strump’s attic” or┬áBechdel depicts herself as claiming that being raised by her father was like being “raised by Martha Stewart.” Both these statements help the reader to assert that Heschel’s dad does not exactly live up to the title of a manly man (5 and 13).

Yet, these passages need not be included into the story because on the beginning pages of the story Bechdel draws her father putting up lace drapes while wearing a pair of short cut- off jeans. Although some may say that cut off jeans were the trend of most men in the era, regardless the depiction of a guy in short cut-off jeans leads one to think that one may be less than a manly man. But, this is how Bechdel subtly shows herself complicit to her father’s artifice. It is as if Bechdel is giving the reader all the hints to presume that her father was gay, yet she does not bluntly say her father is gay. Bechdel seems to be ok with her father’s artificial life, although she complains of having to dust intricate backs of wooden chairs that her father dubs “beautiful,” but that only sounds like the usual complaint teens give their parents when forced to do chores (15). One place where Bechdel does seem to question her father’s activities is when she states “but would an ideal husband and father have sex with teenage boys” (17). This accusation seems to have some truth behind it. Bechdel knows the ways of her father and does not approve of his actions as a homosexual. Through this notation Bechdel is saying her father was not an ideal father and is hurt by her father because of this.

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