Inventing the Self

Fun Home and Carter

October 9th, 2013 by Yitian Liao · 3 Comments

Instead of reading a fully fleshed out theoretical argument such as those we have been reading over the previous few weeks, this week I feel as if I’m reading a psychological test, and the wheel that is supposed to help me understand my personality is likely to be the birth chart that tells me how the horoscopes are aligned for my birthday. This may sound not serious, but Carter states her points in a very easy way for me to understand. Daily life examples that she addresses in the Personality Wheel pictures ideas such as major-minor and double major in my mind. Like what McAdams said, a person’s character is ever-changing during his or her lifetime, in terms such as those of personalities and social roles. Multi-personalities can exist in one body and one mind due to the different roles that one is taking in that moment of time and space.

In Fun Home, the father plays multiple roles: that of the father, the English teacher, the funeral home’s director, the husband, and the closet homosexual. Probably the mother is embodies two roles: she is the mother and also the invisible supporting role. The strong identification of characters in the comic is expressed through the combination of strokes of lines and images.  The whole autobiography is a way to construct a personal story and confront identity in lives.
Alison comes to understand herself better by her father’s death and discovery of her father’s sexuality. Both of them are playing Major-Minor multiple personalities. We can see even though there are still conflicting images existing in the father, as his character matures with the progression of the story line we can see that he works very hard to create balance between his multiple roles.

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3 responses so far ↓

  • Sabrina Smith // Oct 9th 2013 at 12:18 pm

    I agree that her father’s roles (Alison) in her childhood displayed range of responsibility which beings to light the multiplicity factor that Carter emphasizes in her work. I think Alison did benefit in terms of understanding her father from this self-reflection through her writing and I think it eventually eliminates any uncertainty that she might of had once all the details were put into perspective.

  • matthew finston // Oct 9th 2013 at 3:15 pm

    I think you are right to suggest that Allison Bechdel’s use of her father’s disclosure of identity is in fact a way for her to trace the multiplicity of identity. She is using her father to better understand herself. In fact, it is not a story about her father. She is talking about herself through her father by exploring the tension and contradictions of a fluid personality role that fluctuates between “major” and “minor,” the “daughter” role. These fluctuations come out of the realization that her father shares an identity that has sociopolitical meaning. But at the same time, her father did not embrace the label, which seems to haunt Allison throughout the book. By marrying, having a family, and not venturing out into the city, Allison’s father challenges the homonormative narrative of sexual liberation. Allison, on the other hand, embodies the role of the heroic gay narrative by “coming out of the closet.” But Allison is marred by the fact that her father shares a similar identity expressed in a very different way. The phrase, “I am gay,” is never articulated by Allison’s father in the same way that Allison announces ownership of this title in the letter to her parents. It is alluded to, but not as a secret identity, but as something he does, has continued to do, throughout his life and her childhood. I agree with your statement that the father is striking a balance of sorts but not allowing “gay” to define his identity. He is multiple.

  • Kristina Bodetti // Oct 9th 2013 at 4:05 pm

    I particularly liked when you said, “The whole autobiography is a way to construct a personal story and confront identity in lives.” I think this perfectly connects this weeks readings with last weeks. Autobiography as a way of understanding self I think plays a large roll in Fun Home.
    I also think you hit the nail on the head with the multiple roles/personas that Carter described as used in the Graphic Novel.

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