Narrated and Narrating “I” in Fun Home

In Bechdel’s autobiographical graphic novel Fun Home the narrated and narrating “I” are given an interesting perspective not yet viewed in our previous readings. In Fun Home, I find that there are two different protagonist characters for the story, not just in the narrated and narrating voice but instead the illustrated and the narrating.  Bechdel delivers her life narrative with a brilliant combination of very thoughtful and reflective prose with the components that make it a graphic novel.  As mentioned in class, the comic-strip format that gives this narrative its unique creativity, also deliver a variety of benefits to the narrating style.  For one, as I brought up in class, is what I call the punch line factor, that is made possible with the natural progression of reading a comic.  Another interesting addition of the comic format is just the wealth of pertinent information that can be delivered in the story through clever image placement. One example of this that I can think of from the narrative would be in her early discovery of masturbation and orgasm.  Bechdel could have delivered this in a straightforward explanation, but instead she puts it into the story in the form of her character coming across the word in the dictionary.  This simply draws the reader closer to the text, inspecting each panel for what could be revealed.  Finally the narrated and narrating “I,” as delivered by the comic panel style, come off as, instead two different voices of the text, two different characters entirely.  In Douglass’s narrative the narrating “I” comes through in his retrospective analysis of the dehumanizing nature of slavery from the perspective of a freed slave; the narrated “I” is the voice of the slave that is remembered and conveyed by the narrating voice. In our early puritan readings, Sheppard’s narrating “I” was the voice the momentarily broke character, and reflected on just how much the loss of his 2nd wife hurt him, and the narrated “I” is the puritan Sheppard.  Bechdel’s narrating “I” comes through in the panels that narrate the story, reflecting on her past and coming of age with a certain meticulousness to understand it all.  The unique narrated “I” that the comic style allows is the visual “I,” or like Smith & Watson say in Reading Autobiography, the “version of the self.”  This “version” of the self is what Bechdel processes through her memory and puts down in the comic character playing out her past.


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