How Fun Really Is This House?

Through the descriptions Allison uses for her father and her family so far into the novel, I am unsure about her true feelings regarding them. The way they act in regards to one another gives more of a feeling of “roommates” rather than mother and father, husband and wife, even brother and sister. Allison directly states that her father treated the furniture as children and the children as furniture. In these chapters we also learn that Allison’s father is homosexual and has been having homosexual affairs that Allison’s mother has been aware of. If she is aware of these affairs for an extended period of time, what would make her stay in this clearly loveless relationship? It could be argued that they keep the marriage for the “sake of the children” but after observing the detached way that Allison’s mother and father interact with her and her brothers, I would argue that this is not the case. No affection is given to the children, nor is attention paid to them. Could it be, just like her father’s inability to leave far from home, he is scared of change? Is it this fear of change that influences him to “commit suicide” by getting in the way of the truck when the mother asks for a divorce? Or does his suicide have nothing to do with the divorce and is more correlated with his romanticization of death and literature?

Questions:

  1. Why do you think that Allison’s parents remain together even if the mother is aware of Allison’s father’s homosexual affairs? Do you think the parent’s love each other in another way?
  2. What do you think of Allison’s mother’s reaction to Allison telling her mother that she is lesbian? Especially considering the way she reveals Bruce’s homosexuality when she discovers the news.
  3. Do you think Allison’s brothers view their parents in the same light as Allison does? What evidence is there to support your thinking?
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4 thoughts on “How Fun Really Is This House?

  1. I was also struck hard by Alison’s quote about her father and the treatment of furniture versus the treatment of his children. It surprises me that Alison was so open in this novel, seeing how blatantly she describes her home life. You were completely right in comparing Alison and her parents as roommates because Alison mentions in the book that everyone in the family lives in their own world, doing their own things. Though my relationship with my parents is better than Alison’s at this point in the novel, I still feel a lot of parallels between this novel and my own upbringing.

    My father, however, has not cheated on my mother. If he had, I know that my mother would definitely divorce him if the affairs were regular in the case of Bruce Bechdel. It baffles me, as I can tell it baffles you as well, that Alison’s mother would be able to stay married to Bruce after this long knowing about the affairs.

    I do think that Bruce’s death happened suspiciously close to Alison’s mother’s proposal of divorce, but my mind is not entirely made up on whether he indeed killed himself, or if it was an accident. I would love to know your reasoning behind how you are so sure in thinking so.

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  2. I agree with you one hundred percent! One of my biggest questions from this book was why they stayed together when they were obviously both so unhappy. Throughout the pages we never see the mother smile and the father only seems happy when he is with one of his affairs. In most cases like the of Alison’s father’s, suicide would generally not be thought of, merely a terrible accident. The fact that suicide was thought as a possibility, and such a strong one, makes me further question why they (the mother and father) would keep themselves in such a terrible situation.

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  3. The family dynamic in Fun Home is definitely strange, but is also determined soley on Allison’s perspective. This brings up an interesting question: how did the other members of the family perceive Bruce’s homosexuality, and the nature of his attitude when interacting with his children and wife? I think that there is some evidence suggesting that Allison’s brothers felt similarly in regards to their father’s neglect, distance, and obscurity. This can be assessed when Allison returns home from college to attend her father’s funeral. She and her brother share an exchange in which they both silently smile, almost as if victorious, or liberated from their father’s baggage. Again, you can assume feelings of indifference from her brothers at the funeral when they are described as staring into their father’s casket “dry-eyed”. While Fun Home is illustrated from Allison’s perspective, and only her perspective, I think there is a lot of shared feelings and experiences between her and her brothers.

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  4. I feel strongly that there was only respect between Alison’s parents, I don’t think that the relationship between them involved love. I think the reason that they stayed together wasn’t even for the kids, it was really common during this time for people to get divorced. I think they stayed together for their own image. If they had broken up it would come out that Bruce was gay, and that would also say a lot about the mom. I also think it had a lot to do with the times, there was still a LOT of hate that was harbored towards homosexuals by their generation. I think they were afraid of the backlash and I also think Bruce had the same self-hate that David in Giovanni’s room had, and the break-up could have lead to a suicide that was perhaps even earlier.

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