Fun Home


Alison Bechdel

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Themes and Colors
Gender Identity and Coming of Age Theme Icon
Repression vs. Openness Theme Icon
Fiction and Reality Theme Icon
Death and the Tragicomic Theme Icon
Artifice Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Fun Home, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Gender Identity and Coming of Age

Fun Home is a graphic memoir in which Alison Bechdel describes her childhood and early adulthood. It’s the story of her growing up, her coming of age. More specifically, Fun Home is the story of Alison’s coming of age while grappling with her lesbian gender identity and the way that identity differs from the expectations imposed on her by society. As she grows up, Alison feels a constant and growing shame that is centered around…

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Repression vs. Openness

Throughout Fun Home, Alison Bechdel’s exploration into her own lesbian sexuality is juxtaposed with her father Bruce’s repressed gay or bisexual orientation. While this contrast between openness and repression in the book is specifically related to sexuality and gender-identity, the book is also a powerful portrayal of the impact of repression more generally, the way that shame can drive a person to hide that shame, and then how hiding that shame can…

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Fiction and Reality

In Fun Home, the Bechdel family constantly, and perhaps compulsively, engages with fiction. But Alison, Bruce, and Helen each engage with fiction in different ways. These differences in the characters’ relationships to fiction don’t end with their interactions with books and plays. Rather, those differences are suggestive about the three characters’ different relationships to reality, to the ways that they understand, escape, or try to shift or hide the real world…

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Death and the Tragicomic

The subtitle of Fun Home – “A Family Tragicomic” – captures a number of aspects of the book. First, it captures the fact that the story of Bruce in the memoir is a tragedy told in the format of a graphic novel – a comic. The book is, literally, a “tragicomic.” On a deeper level, it evokes the way that the memoir treats death as both tragically life-alternating and as comedic, in the sense that…

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Bruce Bechdel is obsessed with keeping up appearances so that the outside world perceives him as something different than he really is. The first chapter of Fun Home is named “Old father, old artificer” (a quote from Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man), and in it Alison details her father’s obsessive focus on restoring the family’s home to the point that she calls him “a Daedalus of décor.” Indeed, just as…

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