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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.