Fun Home

Fun Home Summary

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic is a graphic memoir by Alison Bechdel. It focuses specifically on her parents, Helen and Bruce, and their role in her life. Bechdel builds the narrative around the tragic event of her father's death.

Young Alison Bechdel lives in Pennsylvania with Helen, Bruce, and her little brothers Christian and John. Bruce and Helen had been living in Europe, but the death of Bruce's father forced them to return stateside to take over the Bechdels' funeral home business (which is the inspiration for the memoir's title). Bruce meticulously cares for and improves upon the family's old Gothic revival mansion. Meanwhile, his relationship with his children and his wife is frosty and sometimes violent. Bruce's volatile moods fill the Bechdels' home with uncertainty and tension.

At a young age, Alison feels as though she wants to dress like a boy and during puberty, she discovers that she is attracted to women. She comes out at as a lesbian at the age of 19, while she is in college. Soon after coming out, Alison learns from her mother that Bruce has always carried on affairs with men and boys. She is shocked to learn that Bruce was engaged in sexual relationships with his gardener and the children's babysitter, and that her mother has always been aware of his infidelity. Not too long after Alison's revelation, Helen tells her daughter that she has asked Bruce for a divorce.

Two weeks later, Bruce Bechdel is dead, having been hit by a Sunbeam Bread truck while crossing the street. Bechdel suspects that her father's death was a suicide, highlighting several specific facts and incidents as evidence. She laments that he died before she could properly speak to him about his sexuality and his subsequent shame. As a result, Fun Home follows Bechdel's journey as she tries to unpack and understand the depth of Bruce's closeted life and his motivations, especially as they relate to her own.