Well, here I am. Back at the class blog. Partially because I believe at some point I fell a blog post behind and am hoping that I can still throw a few points in the gradebook (cough cough Hi Liz cough cough), but also because I just found myself looking over all we’ve gone through in the past semester. With this final post to our lovely blog, I wanted to just point out a small thing that caught my eye in our final days. During one of my last hours sitting in that dark corner and leaning against the brick wall, I found myself flipping through Fun Home. It was something on the very first page in the book that caught my eye and got me thinking. This was the image:
I could be thinking too deep into this, and most likely am, but I started to think about what this picture represents. It is the first page. You open the book, you see this. Before you read the family tragicomic, it probably has no real meaning to you. If I had even taken the time to look at it then, I’d have thought it was just an illustration of a shadowed adult leaning against a post as a child swings around next to them. Nothing special. But after reading Fun Home and learning of the relationship between these two characters, who we can now assume to be Bruce and Alison, this image suddenly has a different meaning to me. As Alison Bechdel illustrated through her graphic novel, the childhood relationship between the father and daughter was a strained one. Bruce was a distant father and Alison compares the children to furniture in the house. However, I think that she was wanting that close relationship with him all along. There’s the instance on page 19 where she tries to show some affection by kissing his hand. After reading her story, I see this image as Alison quite literally leaning toward or gravitating towards her father in search of that relationship and affection. She’s holding onto the post, anchoring her where her current fraught relationship is with him, but she is leaning in for more.
This section of Fun Home continued with its extravagant twist and turns, the downward spiraling of Allison’s life that I cannot seem to put down. When I finished reading the section assigned for Thursday I began to see a reoccurring theme in the novel, Allison’s life slowly spinning out of control. The story begins with a father who makes the children do chores (completely understandable) to the end of this section where Allison’s homosexual father has committed suicide after a divorce as she is fighting off obsessive-compulsive disorder. The story is life a train wreck that you cannot look away from, but as I read without blinking I wonder what is with our societies obsession with others demise? Tabloid magazines are now one of the hottest commodities and the latest celebrity drug addiction is even making the front pages of respected newspapers. Even today as I turn on CNN, the videos of twin bombs exploding at the Boston Marathon are still being played, it makes me wonder why we watch the demise just as much as we like to watch those people rise out of the ashes. Is it we are hoping to see them get their lives back together or making us feel better about our own lives? Is it our human nature to gossip about others or as a society are we getting worse when it comes to watching others fail? Fun Home was published in 2006 and is a New York Times best seller, I believe everyone can think of a dysfunctional novel, TV show, or movie that was good even though there was not a happy ending but why are some so fascinated with this genre?
Another spot I found interesting is how Bechdel decided not to change the setting, names, etc. in the book, when you Google map Beech Creek, PA the map identical to the one on page 140 appears. Although already dead this book had to destroy her fathers and families reputation in a small town on 700. The book shows them as having a perfect reputation as the all American family but behind the shiny polished house stood a family on the verge of collapse. Does literary integrity of telling the true story outshine the reputation of her family? Although written about her family’s life in the 70’s and 80’s, small towns tend to have multiple generations of families that continue to live in that town. This could easily be a stigma on the Bechdel’s that continue to live in Beech Creek. This all rounds back to the idea of watching peoples demise because it comes down to the ethics of journalism. Does showing or writing about a shocking subject to get the story out outweigh the people the story will inversely hurt? Its something I believe we must look at as we read the news newspapers and watch the TV. But the thing that makes Fun Home so interesting is how Bechdel left her whole life on the table for the reader to make their own opinions and perceptions about her family. Which is something that could be honorable or something that could have ruined her family in the long run.