Essay about The Tragicomic Fun Home By Alison Bechdel

Essay about The Tragicomic Fun Home By Alison Bechdel

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The tragicomic Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel, is generally considered one of the most important pieces of the modern LGBTQ canon of literature. The graphic novel tells the story of Alison Bechdel’s attempt to find the truth about her father’s sexuality and what lead him to possibly commit suicide. Along the way, Bechdel finds her own sexuality. Bechdel’s choice to write about her and her father’s simultaneous journey to finding their sexuality was revolutionary at the time. Very few authors were writing openly about their own sexuality, and something even more revolutionary that Bechdel addressed was mental illness. It’s unexpected so late in this story, on page 137, that Bechdel would include a lengthy section discussing her childhood Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Why include this section at all when the entire graphic novel has focused on Bechdel’s relationship with her father and their joint quest to find their respective sexualities? There are many reasons that Bechdel could have chosen to include this section, namely to accentuate the extent that she felt separated from her family, to compare how society, represented by her mother, has differing views about mental disorders and sexual orientation, and to show how reliable, or unreliable, she is as a narrator.
One reason Bechdel discusses her mental health in Fun Home is to show the direct effect that her parents had on her mental state growing up. On page 137, Bechdel mentions that one of her compulsions is perfectly lining up her sneakers. She labels the left shoe as her father and the right shoe as her mother. She tries to line them up perfectly as to not show favoritism for one show, or parent, over the other. Another compulsion of Bechdel’s mentioned on page 137 is ...

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...mental illness and sexuality are both parts of who you are, yet it’s more acceptable to treat and subdue mental illness than “treating” or “subduing” sexuality. Bechdel’s mother is perfectly happy to be a scribe for Bechdel’s journal entries, yet will not even speak to her daughter after Bechdel comes out. Lastly, Bechdel includes this section as a sort of explanation for the graphic novel itself. While Bechdel did get over her OCD, she’s still obsessed with finding the absolute truth about her father’s death. Bechdel also emphasizes that we cannot truly know the absolute truth, no matter how hard we try, which gives readers doubt that Bechdel is telling as close to absolute truth as she can. While this break in the main plot of Fun Home seems unnecessary, it serves a myriad of purposes that can only help us to better understand Bechdel’s life and her father’s death.

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