by Alison Bechdel

Fun home essay questions.

Why might Bechdel choose to reveal certain information through drawings of written communication, rather than just telling the reader?

Bechdel invokes the theme of written words through drawings of letters written by herself or by her family members. Often, the contents of these letters reveals information that the author does not mention elsewhere. These images therefore allow the reader a window into the perspective of other characters without the filter of Bechdel's hindsight and voice as a narrator of this memoir. It also reminds the reader about the importance of written communication in the Bechdel family, especially to Bruce, who liked to imagine himself as his favorite writers and the characters from their novels. 

What is the effect of Bechdel using art as a lens through which to reflect on her life?

As she relates in this memoir, Bechdel grew up steeped in literature. Her father was an English teacher who maintained an extensive home library, and he impressed upon her from a young age the importance of specific pieces of literature. Her mother was an actress who rehearsed her lines around the house and brought the family to her performances. Thus, it is fitting that Bechdel uses allusions her parents would have understood as a way to understand them . 

How does gay history in the United States play a role in Bechdel's own history?

Bechdel interlaces American gay history into her own narrative throughout Fun Home , most noticeably in the final chapter .  She uses specific historical events to contextualize the difference between her own experience of coming out and her father's inability to do so. For much of his life, Bruce hadn't even considered being open about his homosexuality an option; in contrast, Alison feels comfortable enough to come out in college and begins dating Joan. Bruce Bechdel died in 1980, only four months after his daughter came out as a lesbian. The 1980s was the height of the AIDS crisis in the United States, and Bechdel wonders if Bruce's risky dalliances with strange men may have led him to contract HIV - and worse yet, if he would have passed it onto Helen. 

This is a graphic memoir; how does this specific medium enhance Bechdel's particular story?

Bechdel often includes details in her drawings that she does not otherwise reveal in the narrative, or that she waits to elucidate until a later point. Therefore, the drawings often complement the narrative, or at times, serve as counterpoints. Details that Bechdel includes in her drawings inform to the reader, for instance, the date, how much time has passed since the last anecdote, what the weather was like, and even about a character's mood and/or appearance during a particular scene. By placing certain items or people in the foreground of the drawings, Bechdel is also able to control the reader's gaze and, consequently, suggest the relative importance of those things.

Many of Bechdel's drawings are letters or photographs. Why might she have drawn these things instead of describing them in the written narrative?

By including drawn representations of letters and photographs, Bechdel lends an air of authenticity to her memoir. These are primary sources, and even though the reader knows that Bechdel is choosing which excerpts to include, the inclusion of crossed-out words, errors, and tiny details implies that she has drawn an accurate representation of these artifacts. Thus, though the memoir is clearly a history told from Bechdel's point of view, the letters give Bechdel the opportunity to include the voices of other characters as they intended to express themselves - without the filter of her narration. 

Bechdel begins and ends with an allusion to the myth of Daedalus and Icarus. Describe the importance of this particular tale to her narrative. 

In ancient Greek mythology, Daedalus was the master craftsman who made wings of wax and feathers. Though he warned his son, Icarus, about the limitations of his creation, the ambitious young man still flew too close to the sun. The wax on his wings melted and Icarus plummeted into the sea. Though this might seem like a neat metaphor for a father-child relationship, Bechdel points out that in the case of her and Bruce, it was the father who flew too close to the sun and died too early. She sees herself both as the child and, in some ways, as the parent. At the end of the memoir, however, she writes that even though Bruce had tragically fallen into the sea - that meant that he was there to catch her. In these final lines, Bechdel uses this allusion to express her acceptance of her father, despite their troubled history. 

Death is an important theme in this memoir. Describe how Bechdel approaches death at different points in her life. 

Bechdel has a complicated relationship with death. As a child, she and her brothers are exposed to death constantly because their father works in the family funeral home - the "Fun Home" that gives the book its title. She finds more in common with Wednesday Addams than with any of the sunnier literary heroines. When she sees her first cadaver as a teenager, Alison does not show any emotion. Upon hearing of her own father's death, however, she reacts with laughter and irritation instead of breaking down. This is not because she does not care, but rather, death has always seemed absurd to her. Therefore, Bechdel uses works of art to try to understand its meaning. In this way,  Fun Home  itself   is Bechdel's way of dealing with her father's death. 

How does the theme of secret sexuality play out in the memoir? 

Bruce Bechdel is in the closet for most of his life, even though Helen knows that her husband is cheating on her with many young men. He is so ashamed of being gay that he can never openly speak about his dalliances with other men, even after Alison herself comes out. Though Alison never pretends to be straight, she does keep her sexual exploration secret as a young girl, not even revealing in her diary that she has discovered masturbation. However, Alison is able to shed her shame and come to terms with her sexuality - partially as a result of literature, but mostly because of the supportive community around her. At the end of the memoir, Bechdel contemplates the paradox of her life: her father's shame about his homosexuality is the reason she exists. Had Bruce Bechdel felt comfortable coming out, Alison wonders, would he have ever succumbed to the pressure of heteronormativity? 

One of the ways Bechdel understands herself to be an inversion of her father is through their gender identities. How does she represent this tension?

Bechdel discovers her affinity for men's clothing at a young age, before she even realizes that she identifies as a lesbian. She first experiments with cross dressing in high school with her friend Beth, realizing that she prefers to dress in a more masculine style. She notices early on that her fathers tastes are much more effeminate than her own. This manifests itself in his meticulous attention to his appearance and also in his obsession with beautifying their home. Perhaps because Bruce is ashamed of this part of himself, he goes out of his way to enforce femininity upon Alison. Several of her drawings show Bruce forcing Alison to wear barrettes in her hair and to dress like a girl, though she prefers to keep her hair short and dress in a less fussy style. Towards the end of the memoir, Bruce reveals to his daughter that he wanted to be a girl - and while she is excited to make this connection (because she always wanted to be a boy), Bruce is ashamed. This interaction embodies the chasm between father and daughter's approaches to gender identity. 

What is the difference between the way that Bechdel uses literature to understand her life and the role that literature played in her father's life? 

Throughout Fun Home , Bechdel sets up elaborate literary metaphors in order to add depth to the "characters" in her own life. Citing familiar allusions allows her to represent her experiences more clearly to the reader in addition to better understanding her parents, as she explains. Likewise, in his letters, her father often compared himself to his favorite authors and their characters. The difference between Alison's self-aware approach and Bruce's is that Bruce seems to prefer fiction to reality, at least in his daughter's opinion. Because his life with Helen and his children has so many layers of artifice, he sees himself as living his own fiction.

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Fun Home Questions and Answers

The Question and Answer section for Fun Home is a great resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.

How does Bechdel characterize herself (in the past) and the rest of her family?

In her memoir, Alison Bechdel writes about the process of discovering that she is attracted to women and coming out to her family at 19. While young Alison faces certain struggles as she attempts to embrace her sexuality, she is able to do so in a...

It chronicles the author's childhood and youth in rural Pennsylvania, United States, focusing on her complex relationship with her father. I think during 1970's.

It focuses specifically on the author's parents, Helen and Bruce, and their role in her life. Bechdel builds the narrative around the tragic event of her father's death.

Study Guide for Fun Home

Fun Home study guide contains a biography of Alison Bechdel, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.

  • About Fun Home
  • Fun Home Summary
  • Character List

Essays for Fun Home

Fun Home essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of Fun Home by Alison Bechdel.

  • Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home and Michel Foucault’s “Repressive Hypothesis”
  • The Valley of the Shadow of Text
  • Fun Home and Lacan's Mirror Stage
  • Identity Construction in Fun Home
  • Suspension of the Imaginary in the Real: Fiction as Truth in the Memoir

Lesson Plan for Fun Home

  • About the Author
  • Study Objectives
  • Common Core Standards
  • Introduction to Fun Home
  • Relationship to Other Books
  • Bringing in Technology
  • Notes to the Teacher
  • Related Links
  • Fun Home Bibliography

Wikipedia Entries for Fun Home

  • Introduction
  • Plot summary

fun home essay questions

Queer Teacher/Teaching Queer

A journal of my experience creating and teaching my university's first-ever queer literature course. ***Dedicated to writer and activist Larry Kramer***

  • Queer Syllabus

02 2 / 2014

Post 11: FUN HOME Writing Prompts

As mentioned in an earlier post, I wrote prompts for each of the major readings with literary and socio-historical concerns in mind.  Through them I aimed to generate student thought about texts and to guide students toward writing that would meet the course objectives as stated in the syllabus.  Also, I hoped the prompts might broaden students’ experience of each text, as they raised questions and issues that—due to time constraints—we wouldn’t always get a chance to discuss in class.

Below are the writing prompts I created for Fun Home . 

Numerous themes and ideas are apparent in Bechdel’s memoir: The idea of “an absurd death” or the absurdity of death itself; appearance versus reality; fact versus fiction; the importance of physical place (such as rural PA or NYC) in determining character and action; and the role that literature can play in one’s coming out process.  Choose one of these themes and discuss not only how you see it at work in Fun Home , but what you feel Bechdel’s memoir is saying about this particular theme.

The memoir repeatedly asks us in subtle and not-so subtle ways to compare and contrast Alison and her father.  Choose one of the following characteristics and discuss how it manifests itself in these two characters, being sure to touch on both similarities and differences and possible reasons for the similarities and differences: Their artistic temperament; their relationship with the mother/wife; their coming out; their secretiveness; their interactions with other gay people; their relationship to literature; their relationship to (and resistance of?) gender norms.

When are characters using coded language or behavior in this memoir, and why?  Choose at least one example of someone using coded language or behavior to discuss in detail.  Try to get at what sort of work the code is doing for the character.

Why didn’t Alison figure out her dad’s sexuality before she was told?  Wasn’t it obvious?  Explain.  Your answer should attempt to get at how family members, in general, perceive sexuality in each other.

When Alison comes across the picture of one of her father’s possible younger lovers, she states something along the lines that she “would have been angry if the photo was of a girl.”  Why would that change anything?  Any why isn’t she angry anyway, when seeing the photo of the boy?  Your answer should attempt to say something about how the sexuality of female and male youths in our society is perceived and presented.

Time in this book is fluid, moving back and forth from the present to the recent past to the long ago and back again.  How is this affecting the memoir as a whole?  Does this fluidity of time add a theme to the book or underscore an existing one?  By structuring the book in this manner, is Bechdel making some sort of statement about memory, perhaps?  Choose at least one of these questions to explore in detail.

Visually the story is rather monochrome.  How is this affecting your experience of the memoir?  Would adding color change the book in a substantial manner?  Explain.

Why does Alison want some sort of causality between her coming out and her father’s death?  Isn’t this morbid of her?  Explain.

Wildcard : Develop your own prompt and respond to it.  Include your self-created prompt at the top of your paper. 

Creative Option : Letter from mom You are Alison Bechdel’s mother and have just finished reading Fun Home , in which you are a major character.  Write a letter to your daughter responding specifically to one or two characteristics or moments in the book, such as the portrayal of your husband’s rages, or your reaction to your husband’s sexuality, or your courtship with your husband.  Your letter should relay a thoughtful consideration of these characteristics/moments as well as a thoughtful understanding of the mother as portrayed in the memoir.  It should also consist of more than praise—remember that the mother has a graduate degree in English.  She is a critical reader, no doubt especially when it comes to a portrayal of her own life!

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Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic

73 pages • 2 hours read

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides that feature detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, quotes, and essay topics.

  • Chapters 1-3
  • Chapters 4-5
  • Chapters 6-7
  • Key Figures
  • Symbols & Motifs
  • Important Quotes

Essay Topics

Describe the role of snakes as a motif in Fun Home. What makes them significant to the plot? What makes them symbolically significant?

Why did Bechdel include the anecdotes about her childhood struggle with OCD? How do these memories support and relate to the greater themes of Fun Home ?

What does Fun Home have to say about what makes a “good” parent? Are Alison’s parents cast in a predominantly negative or positive light?

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Essays on Fun Home

The portrayal of father/daughter relationship in the fun home, illustration and text interaction modes in fun home, made-to-order essay as fast as you need it.

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Fun House: not a Home at All

Identity construction in alison bechdel’s fun home, the recast of gender roles: subversive identities in fun home by alison bechdel, analysis of the use of illustration in fun home by alison bechdel, let us write you an essay from scratch.

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Construction of Identity in Fun Home

Lacan’s mirror stage and fun home, the absurd paradox of death in the real life example in "fun home", fun home: two key scenes analysis of ambiguity, get a personalized essay in under 3 hours.

Expert-written essays crafted with your exact needs in mind

Valley of The Shadows of The Text

Comparison: michel foucault’s "repressive hypothesis" & alison bechdel’s "fun home", fun home by alison bechdel: turning a tragic childhood into a hit musical, the mix of fact and fiction in the woman warrior and fun home.

Alison Bechdel

Graphic novel, memoir

2006, by Alison Bechdel

The novel chronicles the author's childhood and youth in rural Pennsylvania, United States, focusing on her complex relationship with her father.

The book addresses themes of sexual orientation, gender roles, suicide, emotional abuse, dysfunctional family life, and the role of literature in understanding oneself and one's family.

Alison Bechdel, Bruce Bechdel, Helen Bechdel, Joan, Roy, Mark, Pete

Bechdel states that her motivation for writing Fun Home was to reflect on why things turned out the way they did in her life. She reflects on her father's untimely death and whether Alison would have made different choices if she were in his position.[26] This motivation is present throughout as she contrasts Bruce's artifice in hiding things with Alison's free and open self.

Fun Home has been both a popular and critical success, and spent two weeks on the New York Times Best Seller list. The book also generated controversy, being challenged and removed from libraries due to its contents.

“I suppose that a lifetime spent hiding one's erotic truth could have a cumulative renunciatory effect. Sexual shame is in itself a kind of death.” “Feminism is the theory. Lesbianism is the practice.” “It's imprecise and insufficient, defining the homosexual as a person whose gender expression is at odds with his or her sex.”

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fun home essay questions

Home / Essay Samples / Literature / Plays

Fun Home Essay Examples and Topics

by Alison Bechdel

The Theme of Mental Disorder in Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

Introduction The tragicomic Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel, is generally considered one of the most important pieces of the modern LGBTQ canon of literature. The graphic novel tells the story of Alison Bechdel’s attempt to find the truth about her father’s sexuality and what lead…

Fun Home, a Novel Depicting the Intricacies of Family Relationships Using Daedalus and Icarus' Allegory

When Daedalus is Icarus and Icarus is Daedalus Alison Bechdel structures her graphic novel Fun Home with dense layers of literary and cultural allusions in an effort to understand and contextualize her relationships with members of her family and with the world in which she…

The Relationship Between Alison and Bruce in Fun Home

Introduction The memoir “Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic” by Alison Bechdel reminds me more of a fictional rather than “real” graphic memoir. Bruce, Alison’s dad seems like he is escaping from the world rather than in the reality due to his hidden identity, being homosexual….

The Thrilling Fun Home Musical by Lisa Kron

The Themes of the Play “Welcome to our home on Maple Avenue.” With this line, the Bechdel family brought the audience of the Ensemble Theatre along for a ride through their life. The story is told through the eyes of 49 year old Alison Bechdel…

The Difference in Bruce's and Alison's Approaches to Being Gay in Fun Home

Introduction Fun Home: a Family tragicomic, by Alison Bechdel, deals with the difficulties that a father and daughter face with sexuality/ being gay. Alison Bechdel realizes that Bruce and her are on opposite side of the Kinsey scale regarding their gender preferences. The story pursuit…

Concept of Contingency in Bechdel’s Fun Home

Bechdel and Contingency At first glance, Bechdel’s novel Fun Home depicts the unhappy relationship between father and daughter. Outside of chores and working, the pair rarely spend time together and appear to be polar opposites. As Alison describes, she was the “Butch to his Nelly….

Alison Bechdel

United States

Graphic novel, memoir

June 8, 2006 (Houghton Mifflin, hardcover); June 5, 2007 (Mariner Books, paperback)

Alison Bechdel, Bruce Bechdel, Helen Bechdel, Joan, Roy

The memoir follows the story of Alison Bechdel's life from being a young girl to being a young adult. She deals with her own lesbian sexuality, her father Bruce's suicide, and his secret homosexuality or bisexuality that he kept hidden.

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fun home essay questions

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Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

Fun Home Essay Topics & Writing Assignments

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Essay Topic 1

Describe and discuss the genre and format of Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic. Is the book fiction or nonfiction? Under what sub-genres is the book categorized? What is noteworthy about the book's genre and format?

Essay Topic 2

Discuss the nonlinear structure of Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic. In what ways is the narrative nonlinear? Why do you think the author chose to relate her story in this format? How does the author build tension in a nonlinear narrative style?

Essay Topic 3

Describe and discuss the style of the illustrations in Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic. What colors predominate the images? Why do you think these colors were chosen? How do the pictures in the book help the reader relate to the story?

Essay Topic 4

What major facts does the author establish in the beginning of the narrative? How does she establish the setting and relationships within...

(read more Essay Topics)

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    Essay Topic 3. Describe and discuss the style of the illustrations in Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic. What colors predominate the images? Why do you think these

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    Fun Home Discussion Questions - Free download as PDF File (.pdf), Text File (.txt) or read online for free. Discussion questions for Fun Home by Alison

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    These questions go from the abstract to the relevant when our CIE students discuss Fun Home in the classroom. Alison Bechdel's story will