The title of Alison Bechdel's memoir is ironic. Most often, "fun" is an adjective that means lightheartedness and joy. Therefore, Fun Home appears to be a memoir about a home - not just a house, but a home - in which there was a great deal of fun. However, the irony is that "Fun Home" is actually a shortened form of "funeral home," which conveys a more macabre tone.
Helen and Bruce Bechdel as characters (Situation Irony)
Less than halfway through her memoir, Bechdel admits that she employs "allusions to James and Fitzgerald not only as descriptive devices, but because my parents are most real to me in fictional terms. And perhaps my cool aesthetic distance itself does more to convey the arctic climate of our family than any particular literary comparison" (67).
Throughout Fun Home, Bechdel attempts to overcome her tendency to squeeze her parents too firmly into existing molds. However, despite her striking self-awareness, the irony of this statement is that Bechdel is immortalizing her parents as their own characters in the work of literature that is Fun Home.
Non-Linear Narrative (Dramatic Irony)
Fun Home is written in a non-linear structure. Therefore, the reader often knows more about a particular situation than the characters do. This technique not only adds a layer of suspense to the memoir, but it also allows Bechdel to examine her past memories through the lens of her present knowledge about her father. For example, Bechdel opens the memoir with an image of herself as a young child playing "airplane" with her father. Over this rendering of an innocent childhood game, however, Bechdel ominously informs her reader that her father "was to plummet from the sky" (4). A few pages later, Bechdel reveals that even though Bruce Bechdel "appeared to be an ideal husband and father," he had "sex with teenage boys" (17). Shortly after that, Bechdel writes, "it's true that he didn't kill himself until I was nearly twenty" (23). Alison Bechdel the character is not often aware of these key pieces of information over the course of Fun Home, but by revealing them so early in the memoir, Bechdel the author offers her reader a more thorough understanding of Bruce Bechdel's often perplexing behavior.
Fun Home Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Fun Home is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
The New York story is important to Alison because it represents the beginnings of her parents' relationship. Helen grew up in New York, met Bruce in New York, and the couple courted there.... it's where it all began. For Alison, their courtship,...
Allison believed her father killed himself because he felt his life was falling apart..... spiraling out of control. He is forty-four years old when he chooses homosexuality over the bisexual lifestyle he'd been leading. This choice led him to...