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Truth, Reality and Fun Home

maht91's picture


There are a lot of instances in the book, “Fun Home,” where the idea of truth and reality come up. In an article I read, the author suggested that “truth cannot be defined; it can only be experienced.” Bechdel’s mother tells Alison on page 59, “Your father, tell the truth? Please.” Alison’s mother, as she perceives or sees her husband, thinks that his reality, or the life he is currently living, is not the truth. I think that Alison’s mother knows that her husband is not living with his true identity, that his reality is governed by the decisions he chose to make, but not necessary the truth. This might be confusing, but I am trying to understand the connection between truth and reality through the life of Alison and her father. I am wondering how a conversation about the truth in Alison’s father’s life would progress if each of the family members were to give their ideas and perceptions.

What makes Alison and her father different is that Alison experienced the truth about her sexuality, and she made it part of her reality. On the other hand, her father has always tried to use things to create other things, to cover new things and make them look new and acceptable, perhaps. On page 16, Bechdel says: "He used his skillful artifice not to make things, but to make things appear to be what they were not," and also on page 59: "The line that dad drew between reality and fiction was indeed a blurry one." These two comments are interesting in that Bechdel is showing that her father was trying to live a life that was not reflective of his real identity, was not reflective of the truth that he experienced. Can I say that his reality was not reflective of the truth about his life?

Bechdel says on page 230, “I should not pretend to know my father’s [Referring to her father’s truth] was.” I think that she can’t pretend to know his truth because the truth about him is something that he experienced and is not what Alison perceives. I don’t think she could piece a puzzle together about her father the way she wants to, again because it is all her own perceptions about what she saw and heard from her mother. It is interesting how Bechdel called her father’s life (or can I say reality) a “lie” and her sharing her truth with her parents the “truth” when she said on page 117, “The end of his [Her father] lie coincided with the beginning of my truth.” Is it correct to say that I am going to change the truth that I experienced and create a new truth about myself? Could Alison’s father ignore the truth about his sexuality and label it as untruth, and create a new truth: I am married and have a new life now? Why does Bechdel call her father’s life: “a lie?” Maybe for him, the life he was living became the new truth? I think that Bechdel calling her father’s life “a lie” is only her own perceptions of what she thinks.

“What would happen if we spoke the truth?” Bechdel says on page 125. I was just thinking how her father’s life would be different if he had told the truth about his sexuality if we want to think of her father’s death as a suicide attempt. Then this could answer why he has not told the truth about his sexuality, because he wanted to commit suicide after all. But could it also be because he opened the way for new choices/options, and he wanted his reality to agree with a new truth? The new truth that he is living a different life and he is going to accept it?  

Bechdel says on page 141, “All I could speak for was my own perceptions…” But perceptions change and unfold as we grow, and so we see/perceive the world differently.  There is a point where you lose your credibility. Her perceptions about things change as she grows old. So how can she trust her diary to give her truth? On page 162, Bechdel confesses: “But then my diary was no longer the utterly reliable document it had been in my youth,” and on page 169: “I was obsessed with making sure my diary entries bore no false witness?” False witness of the truth? False witness of the truth as she perceives it?

What is this whole story with “what is the definition of father? But which of us was the father?” on page 197. I did not really understand the question that she posed here.

Also, what does Bechdel mean when she says on page 169: “Hard facts gave way to vagaries of emotion and opinion.” 




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