Allusions In Fun Home

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One of the most deftly executed devices in Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home is the one that she herself points out to readers: allusion. Typically defined as a casual mention of a person, place, historical event or literary work, Bechdel bends the limitations of allusion into overarching metaphors. The graphic medium gives her a space to make her complex, sweeping allusions work double duty. Literary references, both explicit and implicit, give readers a heightened understanding of both the narrator and the family members she dissects. By using explicit allusion in the captions and implicit allusion in the panels, Bechdel creates layers and depth in her memoir that would otherwise not be possible. By creating stratums of allusion throughout Fun…show more content…
The stories that are read become a part of that person, and like those stories, our histories are not static fact. They are amalgamations of memory, which can be far murkier than pure fiction. In Fun Home, the myth of family is as sacred and varied as historical myth. Opening and closing the book with an extended allusion to Icarus and Daedalus, Bechdel highlights the complexity of her relationship with her father. Although this has multiple effects, the most potent of them is to point out the fragility of memory and truth. Just as there is no one true myth, Bechdel has no one true version of her father. He is at once the self-absorbed Deadalus and the inspiring but ill-fated Icarus. By focusing on Ulysses as a bonding point between her and her father, she illuminates the fact that one cannot ever fully understand a person without underling the sum of his parts. As Bechdel notes, Ulysses is generally incoherent for those readers who fail to see its connection to the Odyssey. Just as her father, his cruelty and obsessions, for Bechdel cannot be understood without the knowledge of his sexuality. These variations and interpretations of Homer’s work, which is itself the product of generations of oral tradition, mirror the multitude of ways in which Bechdel understands and relates to her father. And, as often happens when someone dies

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