Bechdel uses French philosopher Albert Camus' existential novel A Happy Death as a reference point while describing her reaction to her father's death. She even goes so far as to name the second chapter of Fun Home after Camus's book, which focuses on consciously creating one's own happiness.
Camus wrote A Happy Death between 1936 and 1938, but it was not published until 1971 (ten years after the author's death). Camus drew on his own memories from his time stationed in Algiers and his battle with tuberculosis to create the character of Patrice Mersault, an indifferent young man with a boring job and loveless relationship. A rich invalid named Roland Zagreus teaches Mersault that happiness comes from being patient and appreciative of one's time on Earth. However, Mersault kills Zagreus and absconds with his money. Eventually, Mersault, unable to find happiness, returns to Algiers. He eventually moves into a house in a village by the sea, all alone, and finds internal peace. It is here that he is finally able to die a "happy death."
Literary critics consider A Happy Death to be a precursor to The Stranger, Camus's most famous novel.