“I’d been upstaged, demoted from protagonist in my own drama to comic relief in my parent’s tragedy” (58).
Last class, we discussed the possibility of minor character’s stories overshadowing that of the protagonist in relation to Woloch’s idea of the reader’s “double-vision,” or awareness of both the story being told and all the other stories that are implied, but not told. Thinking about this in relation to Fun Home, it brings forth the question of who is the real protagonist. In the other two books we’ve read so far, Invisible Man and The Crying of Lot 49, the protagonist was distinctly clear. None of the minor characters came close to overshadowing the invisible man or Oedipa, and all of them existed in the novels to solely to help the character development and self-realizations of the respective protagonists. However, the situation is different with Fun Home. The story of Alison’s parents, particularly that of her father, overshadows, and as she writes “upstages” her own story. She is finding herself again and again relegated to the role of minor character. Her discovery of her sexual identity, clearly a huge moment in the story of her own life, takes a backseat to the events surrounding her parents. We first learn of her sexual realization as part of the story about her father’s death. She jumps over it so briefly as her father’s story overpowers her own, that she has to go back and retell it again a few pages later, this time remembering to add details about herself.
So, again, there is the question, who is the protagonist? Alison or her father? Because while his story often overpowers hers, him and his story are instrumental to Alison’s development and self-realization. In that function, he is a minor character, adding to the protagonist’s growth over the course of the story.