"Fun Home"


"Fun Home" by Alison Bechdel

Etymologically, literature relates to letters, written rather than spoken word. However, not every written word is literature. For an art to be literature, it must display excellence in style and form. Literature intensifies, transforms and uses ordinary language in an artistic way. Additionally, it deviates systematically from the conventional speech. Literature therefore, is a form of art that arises from the ability of humans to create a language. Literature covers the crucial genres of drama, distinction, and poetry. The meaning of literature is dynamic: it undergoes changes on a daily basis. Literature can be defined through agnosticism, relativism, and subjectivism. Relativism means, literature has tools to define its value. Subjectivism implies that values of literature are subjective and that their evaluation is based on the personal matter. Agnosticism asserts that although real distinction is present in literature, the value systems of subjective prevent the readers from knowing any aspect of real values.

The Elements of Literature

The elements of literature are defined as parts that make up any work of literature. The elements of literature include plot, character, setting, theme, and point of view. The basic genres of literature are drama, poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. Within the genres, we have the sub-types including novel, and short-story under the fiction genre. Non-fiction sub types include essay, feature story, editorial, and new story. Poetry genres include free verse, narrative, and epic poetry. Consequently, drama includes comedy, classical, and tragedy. Other elements of literature include antagonist, climax, exposition, external conflict, falling action, foreshadowing and generating circumstances. Additionally, internal conflict, protagonist, resolution, symbolism, third person limited, third person omniscient, and first person point of view constitute the literature elements. Therefore, Fun Home, the graphic novel written by Alison Bechdel is literature. This is because the book has elements of literature as discusses comprehensively in the paper.

The element of literature portrayed in the graphic novel Fun Home is the theme. Alison covers different thematic concerns as the plot of the book develops progressively. Alison Bechdel planned the themes to rotate around the life of the family in which the narrator is engrossed. Sexuality theme is also clear in the story. It has emerged several times during the story. Bechdel emphasized the sexual orientation in the novel which is seen as a developing factor. As the story progresses, sexual orientation uncovers itself more as shown by the progressing twist based on sexual expression clear in Bechdel and Bruce. Bruce is Bechdel's father (Bechdel 98). Bechdel father’s homosexual behaviors are clear through several occurrences in his life as a military, while interacting with former school mates, some close friends and relatives. The characters of Bechdel and Bruce express gender responsibility using the artwork. However, after Bruce has committed suicide, the author decides to announce her sexual orientation to the readers. Modernity theme is clear in the tale. This is illustrated in the revealed relationship between the author and her father. Though there is one instance, showing a move towards conservative tendencies. This is clear in the author's father behavior. The author, On the other hand, continues to champion the modernity. It created crucial conflicts in the entire story, which develop the story's plot in a continuous manner. This is clear when the author declared that she was a Spartan to her father's Athenian (Bechdel 83). That she is ‘modern’ to her father's ‘Victorian’. Her declaration forms the core of the story and additionally contributes to develop other parts and themes. The characters in the book are influenced greatly by various elements of literature. Helen, Alison’s mother is shown in the story as an amateur actress. In chapter six of the book, the mother spends time rehearsing a play The importance of Being Ernest . The protagonist is interested in the play, after assisting her mother to rehearse the lines. Later, the same situation repeats in the play with rehearsing Ulysses and Odyssey. Helping her mom with both of the literary works, it is clear that she needs to read them for school, but she also assists her mother in creating linkages with her father (Bechdel 56).

Bruce Bechdel and Alison Bechdel

The novel rotates around the themes of fatherhood, gender roles and homosexuality. The author develops the book by combining the themes into single pieces that form a complex. The complexity relates to her childhood. This complexity makes the story great. Looking back at every single instance from her past, Bechdel is able to link and discover things she did not realize while being a child. The author offers the reader to get to know and comprehend her childhood life. The reader only grasps the author's meaning at the end of the book and can visualize everything that came forth. Both Alison Bechdel and Bruce Bechdel struggled with their gender responsibility because they fought to realize their sexual status. Homosexuality caused Bruce Bechdel to behave the way he did when Alison Bechdel was still a child. Nevertheless, Bruce Bechdel provided unconventional fatherhood that Alison Bechdel was able to understand in the end (Bechdel 75).

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The other element of literature evident in the novel is its form. The form of the novel projects an organized plot with an introduction, middle part, climax, and anti climax of the novel. The author has portrayed the characters through creating cartoon characters. The characters have adapted the theme of memoir through the application of imagery of the actual characters behind the readers’ view. The author perfected the story by drawing various photographs of her family and then incorporating them into the novel for it to be more or less real. This gave the novel a form that is lively to the conventional literature and strictly pursues the format of the text (Bechdel 120).

Consequently, the element making this book a literary piece is the figure of speech. The author employs various figures of speech as constructive elements while building her memoir's plot. The author has used repetition of various scenes in the novel. She uses a common form of repetition called anaphora. The author has used hyperbole when describing her relationship with the father. This is illustrated when she asserts that it was a battle of cross purposes, and she was doomed to escalations she termed as perpetual. She uses perpetual escalation mainly from Bruce's military environment particularly from the wartime jargon (Bechdel 36).

The author emphasizes the misunderstanding that existed between her and the father. Another figure of speech used by the author is antithesis. This can be illustrated when she says that she tried to compensate for things that are unmanly in him, Bruce attempted to portray something that sounded feminine through the author. The first illustration portrays lesbianism associated with Bechdel and the second illustration portrays homosexuality elements associated with her father. The author used imagery in several parts of the novel. The clearest scenarios can be illustrated when she says that she was a Spartan to Bruce's Athenian. Spartan is a modern epic movie, with the events set in the ancient world. On the other hand, Athens is conventionally termed as the old city (Bechdel 64).

The literary elements discussed in the paper explain why graphic novel Fun Home written by Alison Bechdel is a literary piece. The literary elements presented in the novel include theme, point of view, and also character. Therefore, the memoir is a work of literature.

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