Fun Home

The Bechdel Family Home Symbol Icon

The design of the Bechdels’ old, Gothic Revival house that Bruce is obsessed with restoring and furnishing itself becomes a symbol for the artificial way that Bruce constructs his life. Alison compares the house to the mythical labyrinth Daedalus built to entrap the Minotaur, and in that comparison her father serves as both Daedalus (the designer) and the Minotaur (the monster lurking within). In Alison’s view, Bruce’s labyrinthine design is constructed to “make things appear to be what they were not,” or in other words, make Bruce seem like a heterosexual, loyal family man on the surface when, deep down, that was far from the truth.

Within the home, the library serves as the epicenter of the house’s artificiality, and so it symbolically represents the epitome of Bruce’s own artifice. In the library, Bruce imagines himself as “a nineteenth century aristocrat overseeing his estate from behind the leather-topped mahogany and brass second-empire desk,” designing the rest of the space with that in mind. But Bruce also uses the room to flirt with and charm his high school students, including Roy, who he would then have affairs with. The room allowed Bruce to lean into his affectations so thoroughly that “for all practical purposes” it became real, and Bruce saw himself as the put-together family man fantasy he projected to the world.

The Bechdel Family Home Quotes in Fun Home

The Fun Home quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Bechdel Family Home. 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 numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Mariner Books edition of Fun Home published in 2007.
Chapter 1 Quotes

My father could spin garbage… into gold. He could transfigure a room with the smallest offhand flourish… he was an alchemist of appearance, a savant of surface, a Daedalus of decor.

Related Characters: Alison Bechdel (speaker), Bruce Bechdel
Related Symbols: The Bechdel Family Home
Page Number: 6
Explanation and Analysis:

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Sometimes, when things were going well, I think my father actually enjoyed having a family. Or at least, the air of authenticity we lent to his exhibit. Sort of like a still life with children.

Related Characters: Alison Bechdel (speaker), Bruce Bechdel, Helen Bechdel, John Bechdel, Christian Bechdel
Related Symbols: The Bechdel Family Home
Page Number: 13
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 2 Quotes

It was somewhere during those early years that I began confusing us with The Addams Family…The captions eluded me, as did the ironic reversal of suburban conformity. Here were the familiar dark, lofty ceilings, peeling wallpaper, and menacing horsehair furnishings of my own home.

Related Characters: Alison Bechdel (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Bechdel Family Home
Page Number: 34
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 3 Quotes

The line that dad drew between reality and fiction was indeed a blurry one. To understand this, one had only to enter his library… And if my father liked to imagine himself as a nineteenth century aristocrat overseeing his estate from behind the leather-topped mahogany and brass second-empire desk… did that require such a leap of the imagination? Perhaps affectation can be so thoroughgoing, so authentic in its details, that it stops being pretense… and becomes, for all practical purposes, real.

Related Characters: Alison Bechdel (speaker), Bruce Bechdel
Related Symbols: The Bechdel Family Home
Page Number: 59-60
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem 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.

Chapter 7 Quotes

It was not… a triumphal return. Home, as I had known it, was gone. Some crucial part of the structure seemed to be missing, like in dreams I would have later where termites had eaten through all the floor joists.

Related Characters: Alison Bechdel (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Bechdel Family Home
Page Number: 215-216
Explanation and Analysis:

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The Bechdel Family Home Symbol Timeline in Fun Home

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Bechdel Family Home appears in Fun Home. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: Old Father, Old Artificer
Repression vs. Openness Theme Icon
Artifice Theme Icon
...and his greatest achievement results from his obsession with restoring the Bechdel family’s big, old house. As a kid, Alison gets embarrassed when other kids think she’s rich or unusual in... (full context)
Fiction and Reality Theme Icon
The Bechdel family’s gothic revival house was built in her small Pennsylvania town’s wealthiest period, during the lumber boom in 1867,... (full context)
Repression vs. Openness Theme Icon
Artifice Theme Icon
...view her family as a sham in retrospect, yet they really did live in that house. However, there was something fundamental missing, “an elasticity, a margin for error.” Even when Alison... (full context)
Fiction and Reality Theme Icon
Artifice Theme Icon
...version of Bruce’s more formidable “self-loathing,” and that his shame inhabited and pervaded the entire house. In fact, the house’s design was expressly intended to hide that shame. Over an image... (full context)
Chapter 2: A Happy Death
Repression vs. Openness Theme Icon
Death and the Tragicomic Theme Icon
Artifice Theme Icon
Alison then notes that her father’s grave, the location where he died, Alison’s childhood home, and the farm where Bruce was born all exist within a radius of one and... (full context)
Death and the Tragicomic Theme Icon
Artifice Theme Icon
...almost a year before Bruce’s father had a heart attack and Bruce had to return home to run the family business: a funeral home. Alison was born shortly after her parents... (full context)
Chapter 3: That Old Catastrophe
Repression vs. Openness Theme Icon
Fiction and Reality Theme Icon
...her. Over an image from the perspective of a voyeur looking into the Bechdel family house, in which Bruce and Alison are in the same room but are trapped in separate... (full context)
Chapter 4: In The Shadow Of Young Girls In Flower
Gender Identity and Coming of Age Theme Icon
Death and the Tragicomic Theme Icon
Artifice Theme Icon
...most, and thought his love of them made him seem like a “sissy.” The Bechdel home and yard was filled with flowers, vines, and trees of all kinds. Their games of... (full context)
Chapter 5: The Canary-Colored Caravan of Death
Fiction and Reality Theme Icon
Artifice Theme Icon
...for example by drawing on the walls. Her brothers quickly followed suit, so the Bechdel home became a sort of artists’ colony. They ate together, but were absorbed in separate pursuits.... (full context)
Chapter 6: The Ideal Husband
Repression vs. Openness Theme Icon
...oak were also destroyed. The maples had been sheltering the west side of the Bechdel house for more than one hundred years, and their absence left a previously unimaginable void. None... (full context)