Fun Home

Daedalus, Icarus, and the Minotaur Symbol Analysis

Daedalus, Icarus, and the Minotaur Symbol Icon

Alison uses two Greek myths involving Daedalus as allegories for what life is like growing up with Bruce as a father. The first myth is that of Daedulus and the Minotaur, in which Daedulus was the master inventor who created the labyrinth in order to imprison the monstrous Minotaur. In Fun Home, though, Bruce plays the part of both Daedulus and the Minotaur. As Daedulus, he functions as the architect of the intricate, labyrinthine Gothic Rivival home in which the Bechdels live and which he is always decorating and renovating. But he is also a Daedulus in the sense that he has built up an artificial picture of himself as a perfect family man and father, when in fact he is hiding what he seems to consider a kind of monster within: his homosexuality or bisexuality. And that “hidden monster,” that Minotaur, sometimes erupts out of the carefully crafted labyrinth, whether through his secret affairs or through his erratic but not infrequent rages that terrify his family.

The second myth, that of Daedalus and Icarus, bookends the narrative of Fun Home. Though the myth is a narrative about a parent and child, Bruce again in many ways plays both rolls in the tragic narrative. Just as Icarus flies too close to the sun and plummets to his death because of his father’s miscalculation, Bruce has a similarly tragic premature end, though it is likely one he architects himself. At the same time, the final illustration of the book depicts Alison jumping off a diving board into Bruce’s arms, and through that image Alison seems to imply that because Bruce served both roles in the Icarus/Daedalus narrative, Bruce’s physical presence through Alison’s childhood and adolescence, though often hurtful and erratic, might have helped prevent her from flying too close to the sun and plummeting prematurely as he did. Perhaps Alison inherited her father’s compulsive, erratic Daedalus-like drive and ingenuity, but Bruce’s fall may have made her able to put those traits to far less self-destructive purposes than he did (such as the creation of this graphic memoir).

Daedalus, Icarus, and the Minotaur Quotes in Fun Home

The Fun Home quotes below all refer to the symbol of Daedalus, Icarus, and the Minotaur. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Gender Identity and Coming of Age Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Mariner Books edition of Fun Home published in 2007.
Chapter 7 Quotes

What if Icarus hadn’t hurtled into the sea? What if he’d inherited his father’s inventive bent? What might he have wrought? He did hurtle into the sea, of course. But in the tricky reverse narration that impels our entwined stories, he was there to catch me when I leapt.

Related Characters: Alison Bechdel (speaker), Bruce Bechdel
Related Symbols: Daedalus, Icarus, and the Minotaur
Page Number: 231-232
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing eLoreLorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Daedalus, Icarus, and the Minotaur Symbol Timeline in Fun Home

The timeline below shows where the symbol Daedalus, Icarus, and the Minotaur appears in Fun Home. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: Old Father, Old Artificer
Fiction and Reality Theme Icon
Death and the Tragicomic Theme Icon
...notes, acrobatics where one person lies on the floor are called “Icarian Games.” However, though Icarus met his tragic end by ignoring advice from his father, in Alison’s case it is... (full context)
Repression vs. Openness Theme Icon
Fiction and Reality Theme Icon
Artifice Theme Icon
...everything looking perfect. Alison calls him an “alchemist of appearance, a savant of surface, a Daedalus of decor.” Alison adds that her father had another side of him to pair with... (full context)
Repression vs. Openness Theme Icon
Fiction and Reality Theme Icon
Like Daedalus, Bruce is indifferent to the human (or familial) cost of his projects. Alison notes how... (full context)
Fiction and Reality Theme Icon
Artifice Theme Icon
...glass during dinner, Alison narrates that it was always impossible to be sure if the Minotaur was lurking close by. Worse, the constant tension was increased by the many pleasant moments... (full context)
Chapter 7: The Antihero’s Journey
Gender Identity and Coming of Age Theme Icon
Repression vs. Openness Theme Icon
Fiction and Reality Theme Icon
...not consubstantial, paternity is the important thing.” Then Alison wonders what might have happened if Icarus hadn’t fallen into the sea—what might he have created if he’d inherited Daedalus’s inventive capabilities? (full context)
Gender Identity and Coming of Age Theme Icon
Repression vs. Openness Theme Icon
Fiction and Reality Theme Icon
Death and the Tragicomic Theme Icon
Over an image of an oncoming truck approaching, Alison notes that Icarus “did hurtle into the sea, of course.” But then, over an image of Alison as... (full context)