Tag: POV

Dual Personas in Internal Monologue

Even before the reader encounters Pecola’s italicized conversation with her imaginary friend, the introductory lines at the top of the page already set this section of the book apart. Unlike for previous paragraphs, it fully ends with “…PLAYJANEPLAY” (195). This definitive ending mirrors how Pecola, in her mind, has reached her desired end: the attainment of pretty blue eyes. However, by the end of the book, Pecola has fractured into two distinct voices, a tragedy considering how she never truly had a voice to call her own in the first place. Although portrayed as a conversation between her and her imaginary friend, this part of the novel can also be read as an internal monologue that portrays Pecola’s deterioration, but also the sheer velocity with which Pecola herself drives this deterioration. Even within a conversation of her own creation, Pecola fails to stop ruminating upon her worries considering Cholly and Sammy, but especially her blue eyes and whether they are the bluest eyes of them all.  She accuses the voice of being jealous, and promptly apologizes, questioning how she never saw this friend when she was “Right before my eyes” (196), to which the friend responds, “No, honey. Right after your eyes” (196). In some ways, this dual, splintered persona is more knowledgeable than Pecola herself, almost reminiscent of Bechdel’s relationship with Alison. However, she does little to aid Pecola in reconstructing her sense of self and her narrative; rather, she further propels Pecola’s deterioration, playing the “good game.”

Duality and Inverse Unfolding of Character

In Chapter 4, Alison compares the interplay between her narrative arc and her father’s with the ambiguous archetype of the serpent. While quite clearly a phallus, it is also an ancient symbol of femininity and fertility. It is interesting, then, how Alison remarks that “perhaps this undifferentiation, this nonduality, is the point…maybe that’s what’s so unsettling about snakes” (116). She then remarks that “my father’s end was my beginning…the end of his life coincided with the beginning of my truth” (117). This passage precisely captures a question I grapple with in Fun Home: does Alison’s character and her father’s character unfold together throughout the tragicomic? Is this unfolding cyclical, the fleshing out of one character directly feeding back into the development of the other? Or perhaps an inverse duality more accurately characterizes the mapping of the two characters; in attempting to piece together her memories of her father to form a more complete picture of him after his death through this, Alison in fact effectively charts her own character while only further blurring the terrain of her father’s character. Such an inverse relationship can be seen in the horribly static, drawn-out spread (220-221) when Alison’s father, at the crux of a potential moment of true emotional connection and understanding, still resists interpretation, or by the sheer amount of times Alison attempts to fill in the gaps her father left behind and form a more coherent narrative with hypotheticals of “maybe,” “perhaps,” or “what if” throughout her memoir. Do her revelations about herself come at the expense of muddying her memories of her father by creating infinite possibilities, explanations, and justifications for his past actions? Is it possible for a reader’s (and narrator’s) understanding of a character not to expand, but to disintegrate throughout a work of fiction?