Tag: community

Community and Belonging in Fun Home

One of the things that struck me in the opening chapters of Fun Home was Alison’s sense of her community and her place in the various communities she describes. We get descriptions mainly of Alison’s interactions with two communities – the family community that she was born into and struggles to navigate, and the queer community which she discovers in college. The intersection of these two communities was quite interesting to me, particularly as Alison struggles to reconcile her father’s sexuality with her own experience of sexuality. For Alison, joining (at least for one meeting) the Gay Union at school is a method of declaring her sexuality both to herself and to her community, and when she leaves she feels “exhilarated.” Alison’s discovery of her sexuality through books, these meetings, and her relationship with Joan serves the function of a kind of coming of age narrative within the novel, but this arc is complicated by her relationship with her family. Alison describes her declaration of her sexuality to her family as overshadowed by the news of her father’s affairs with young men, claiming that she had been “upstaged, demoted in [her] own drama to comic relief in [her] parents’ tragedy” (58). Alison seems to resent her father for this, but at the same time, it helps her to make sense of her relationship with him and her role within the family. Alison seems to find some sort of comfort in labeling herself as the “butch” to her father’s “nelly” (15), and this is further exemplified as Alison ponders whether her coming out could have influenced her father’s suicide. She writes that she is “reluctant to let go of that last, tenuous bond,” (86) implying that some part of herĀ wants to have influenced her father’s death. Having grown up with such an estranged, complex relationship with her father, and with her own sexuality, the intersection of these two narratives seems to provide a sense of belonging and comfort for Alison, even though these personal

Isolation and Self-Awareness in Invisible Man

In the prologue and opening scenes of Invisible Man, I was struck by the narrator’s isolation, or his lack of relationships to other characters. In particular, the narrator’s awareness of and ostensible satisfaction with this isolation seemed distinctive. As the narrator discusses his invisibility and goes on to describe his “warm hole,” he posits himself as existing independently from regular human interaction. Until he later describes his grandfather, he does not highlight relationships to a family or community as primary parts of his sense of self. Instead, he opens by positing his lack interaction with others as essential to his existence, claiming, “I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me” (3), but assuring the reader that being invisible has advantages. By describing himself as invisible, emphasizing his solitary life in what he calls a “hole,” and neglecting to describe his relationships to other characters in the opening of the novel, the narrator highlights his isolation as an important aspect of his character.