Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic | Study Guide

Alison Bechdel

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Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic | Quotes

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1.

I grew to resent the way my father treated his furniture like children, and his children like furniture.


Alison, Chapter 1

The early conflict between Alison and Bruce stems from Bruce's obsession with historical restoration. Bruce is a distant father figure to Alison and seems to care more about the restoration of the house than raising his children. Alison resents this and also comes to resent the ornamental things Bruce prizes.

2.

Such a suspension of the imaginary in the real was ... my father's stock in trade.


Alison, Chapter 3

Alison believes Bruce's admiration for F. Scott Fitzgerald stems from his obsession with covering up the truth with beautiful artifice. Alison goes on to compare Bruce to Fitzgerald's character Jay Gatsby. Much like Gatsby, Bruce invents a false persona for himself to mask his humble roots and his illicit activities.

3.

That would ... confirm ... his death was not my fault ... I'm reluctant to let go of that.


Alison, Chapter 3

Alison insists Bruce's death is a suicide and suggests her coming out precipitated it. Logically, she understands that both of these conditions are less likely than his death being a random accident. However, she resists this interpretation, preferring to believe she played some part in her father's death.

4.

What're you afraid of? Being beautiful? Put it on, goddamnit!


Bruce, Chapter 4

Bruce says these words to Alison as he's trying to force her to wear a pearl necklace. Throughout her childhood, Alison resists Bruce's attempts to make her wear feminine clothes since she prefers to wear boy's clothes. Alison comes to believe that Bruce, who desired to be female, sought to vicariously experience femininity through his daughter.

5.

There's no mystery! He killed himself because he was a manic-depressive.


Alison, Chapter 5

Alison imagines screaming this at a mourner during Bruce's funeral. In actuality, she only mutters a platitude in response to the mourner's comment about God working in mysterious ways. Instead of reacting with anger or visible sadness, Alison's grief manifests as numbness.

6.

I added his lines to my typescript ... then illustrated the page with a muddy watercolor sunset.


Alison, Chapter 5

Alison's nascent, or just developing, ambitions as a poet are crushed by Bruce's literary talent. Feeling inferior to her father, Alison gives up on writing poetry. That Alison illustrates the page with a "muddy" sunset also foreshadows her later giving up on using color in her art.

7.

I'm bad. Not good like you.


Bruce, Chapter 6

Bruce explains to 13-year-old Alison why he has to go see a psychiatrist. The "bad" Bruce means is his homosexuality, a trait that Alison will also discover within. On the surface, Bruce has been sentenced to attend counseling because of his crime of giving alcohol to a minor. It is implied that he was sentenced to counseling because the judge realized he was gay and believed it was a mental illness.

8.

You will show that man this house over my dead body.


Helen, Chapter 6

After Bruce suggests bringing his psychiatrist to the house for dinner, Helen reacts with blunt anger. She seems to believe Bruce is having a sexual affair with his court-appointed counselor. She is not unjustified in thinking this since Bruce would always bring his lovers to see the house.

9.

I kept still, like he was a splendid deer I didn't want to startle.


Alison, Chapter 7

For the first time, Bruce engages Alison in an open and honest conversation about their sexuality. Alison is so stunned and elated by the sudden openness that she is frightened to say anything that might ruin the moment. Indeed, when she speaks up after Bruce talks for a bit, Bruce falls silent again and the conversation dies.

10.

I prefer Millett's philosophy ... [b]ut I try to keep one foot in the door.


Bruce, Chapter 7

In a letter to Alison, Bruce enthuses about Flying by Kate Millett, a book Alison left behind. The book's open philosophy about sexual self-acceptance thrills Bruce, but he feels it's too late to change his ways now. By saying "I try to keep one foot in the door," Bruce is describing his perpetual balancing act of maintaining a conventional reputation while engaging in secret gay affairs. He is unable to give up the respectability and comfort of a heterosexual lifestyle to publicly embrace his queerness.

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