No Message is a Message – Fun Home

No message is a message. I used to say this to all my friends who had a crush on somebody that didn’t reciprocate their feelings. Besides this phrase being quite applicable in the ‘romance department’, I think ‘no message is a message’ (or in other words, SILENCE), is quite fitting in ‘Fun Home’. So what do I mean by that??? Well…

I think one of my favourite parts of ‘Fun Home’ would be from pages 220-223. From pages 220 to 221, we see Alison and Bruce in the car, moment to moment, sharing a conversation about something that now has been finally brought to light between the both of them. I think Bechdel choosing to show this scene moment by moment is crucial to the book’s climax as we finally get to see a more direct and vulnerable side of Bruce. There are a total of 3 boxes/images/moments of Bruce and Alison not saying a word out of the 24 frames in the 2 page spread. I think silence is profound in a car. I don’t know. There’s just a lot that goes on when you’re silent in a car. You’re thinking. You’re in a daze. You’re trying not to say what you want to say. You’re withholding. It’s just something about silence in a car, but more specifically, showing silence in a graphic novel that helps delay the suspense the reader feels as a vulnerable and fragile moment unfolds in front of them.

In the story, Alison and Bruce end up seeing a film. Then, Bruce takes Alison to this ‘notorious local nightspot’. There is a gay bar at the back. After being ID’d, they drive home in silence. This silence is different to the one before they got to the theatre. It’s ‘mortified silence’. I think they’re both realizing something. And this is what it is…

So, Bruce takes his daughter (who recently just came out as lesbian) to a gay bar. The way they behave during this and whilst afterwards personifies the contrasting differences between the father and daughter’s ways of dealing with their homosexuality. Bruce wants to support Alison, but he’s still uncomfortable or at least he’s still struggling with his homosexuality. I’m sure both Alison and Bruce want to connect on their common ground, but ultimately, they can’t be on the same page because Bruce’s shame is just too deep. He talks about his past affairs, but he can’t come out and just say it straight to his daughter’s face despite wanting to be there for her. I think that’s what the silence represents. He wants to be supportive but he can’t bring himself to be that figure because he himself isn’t comfortable and whole with who he is. So he’s unable to be by his daughter’s side through this all.

One thought on “No Message is a Message – Fun Home

  1. Christina Hendricks

    Very thought-provoking reading of the silence after they go to the bar. The first silence, pp. 220-221, is palpable and visceral, as well as something you can’t miss. The second one, after they go to the bar, is more easily skipped over. I didn’t really pay attention to it. But now that you bring it to my attention I think it is very important that it occurs after they try to go to a gay bar together and can’t. It could indeed symbolize their inability to connect on that plane, despite their desire to do so. And Bruce’s own difficulties with his identity could certainly be to blame. Nice reading!

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