One of the most interesting parts of “Fun Home” by Alison Bechdel was the role of literary references within the graphic novel. Her father was described as both Icarus and Daedalus who are greek mythological father and son characters. Similarly to how the emotional costs of her father’s obsession with home renovation damaged their family, Daedalus was “indifferent to the human cost of his projects” (11). His coldness, and disregard for his family lead to a emotionless family dynamic. His fixation with changing appearances of homes is consistent with the theme that her father is uncomfortable with reality.
Perhaps his escape from reality was reading books. Among some of his favorite authors were Albert Camus and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Post suicide, she finds some underlined passages in Camus’ “The Myth of Sisyphus” talking about the relationship between absurdity and suicide and also how “we all live as if we don’t know were going to die” (48) but since her father’s was a mortician she feels as if he understood the inevitable well. His connection to fictional characters such as Gatsby who was out of touch with reality shows his unhappiness with his reality. His life lasted only three days longer than Fitzgerald’s life but it’s unclear as to whether this is a coincidence. She struggles with understanding this connection whether it was purposeful or not. I struggled to understand why she wanted the connection between her coming out and her father’s death to exist. Maybe because though “tenuous” (86) it shows that there was some kind of emotional connection between them that was deeper than she previously believed.
Because her father lived vicariously through novels, Alison grew up surrounded in literature and learned to interpret the world this way. Her grappling with her sexuality through books whereas maybe her father avoided his with books wasn’t unintentional. Whereas for her mother, after her father’s death she gave away most of his books over time. For her, these novels represented the negative aspects in their relationship that prevented them from having a healthy marriage.