Arguably the most pivotal point of Fun Home includes almost no visual action. Towards the end, Alison is sitting with her father in the car on the way to a movie theater, where each finally opens up about their sexualities candidly—they connect, for example, over the fact that each wanted to be the other gender when they were younger (220-221). What I found really interesting about these two pages is that while it’s an incredibly important moment in the story—the novel almost feels like it’s leading up to this exchange—there’s barely any visual action. The two pages consist of profiles of Alison and her father sitting in the darkened car, with Alison’s narrations and their dialogue the only thing changing between each frame. For the first time in the novel, too, Bechdel’s narrations are white-text-on-black, which makes them feel a lot heavier, emphasizing the importance of this conversation in the overarching narrative.
Alison essentially narrates her thoughts and fears during the exchange, starting with smaller observations like, “I kept still, like he was a splendid deer I didn’t want to startle,” and ending with grander interpretations of the exchange like “I had felt distinctly parental listening to his shamefaced recitation” (most likely applying her opinions retroactively from the future). Bechdel pulls in her references from Ulysses and The Odyssey that have been woven through the entire chapter to compare their exchange to that of Telemachus and Odysseus or Stephen and Bloom, further demonstrating how Bechdel makes sense of her world through literature. With these final observations, Bechdel introduces the strange parent-child role-reversal she experiences with her father, asking, “But which of us was the father?” to reveal that both are coming to terms with their sexuality, and both need the guidance of a more experienced party. I thought it was very paradoxical, but also very appropriate, that Bechdel relies more on words in this scene than images to express the importance of their conversation, taking a break from her normally more active imagery to emphasize the momentousness of this exchange with her father.