Bechdel draws very close ties between her life and fiction. Particularly, her parents each seem to resemble a famous author in some way, mimicking the life and styles of their characters. Her father to Fitzgerald and her mother Henry James. As she puts it, “If my father was a Fitzgerald character, my mother stepped right out of Henry James — a vigorous American idealist ensnared by degenerate continual forces” (66). She even compares their meeting and subsequent life together to the plots of various novels. Literature also plays an important role in helping Bechdel discover her sexuality. Browsing the library, she says “My realization at nineteen that I was a lesbian came about in a manner consistent with my bookish upbringing” (74). Thus, we can see that Bechdel treats literature as a touchstone for reality, something which she can draw upon to make sense of her world and the characters in it. Not only does reality mimic art, but art also gives Bechdel insight into her own reality.
Back when we were reading Rubyfruit Jungle, Ryan made a post about English being really gay. He points out how almost every character in Rubyfruit that was queer had some tie to literature or love of reading, etc. I can’t help but draw parallels here. Bechdel saturates her story with literary allusions. Both Audre Lorde and Leslie Feinberg focus on poetry in their stories. In all of these instances, the written word seems to be a cathartic means of self expression, or a form of escape from a harsh reality. However, while the other stories we’ve read seem to focus on their characters writing original content, Bechdel instead draws upon references to literature to express her world.
- Bechdel is clearly well read, but much of this story is conveyed through visuals rather than words. Why do you think she decided to draw her story instead of write it? In what ways does this graphic format improve her storytelling?
At the end of chapter 4 Bechdel draws parallels between herself and her father. What other ways are they similar? Different?