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Appearance: An Explication Of “Old Father, Old Artificer”

1073 words - 5 pages

Page 106 of the chapter called “Old Father, Old Artificer” in Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel has a layout of four equal squares, indicating the important presence of her father as an authority. Allison communicates through the images only in the first two panels to let it paints how good her father is as an artist. In all of the panels, the objects in the house are what he interests in since his eyes and head face directly to them. The objects relate to his coldness and strictness as they do not have emotion just like him ignores his daughter. The first caption states, “MY FATHER COULD SPIN GARBAGE…” The word “spin” emphasizes the process of transforming the trash that her father finds into something more useful like an artist producing thread. Her speechless expression reveals that she must obey and stand there waiting to get ordered like a slave. This scene is zoomed out, which illustrates a feeling of isolation. The ellipses at the end of the narration lead the reader’s eyes into the next panel.
There is no dialogue in panel 2; there is just a narration at the top of the frame. It continues with the ellipses from the previous frame and states, “…INTO GOLD.” The ellipses implies that the process of bringing the trash and how he turns it into “gold” is unknown, as if the father has a big secret that he does not want to tell. The object is not gold, maybe it is in her father’s eyes, indicating that he treats the objects as his children more than his daughter who is beside him. He fixes the pillow’s position and looks at it but he is unsmiling like he is not satisfied with it, that it seems that it is the effect from his childhood problem like he was being neglected. The narrator only looks at him as though she really longs for their relationship to be more opened. The visual effect of the strokes draws attention into the “gold” or the headboard of the bed, adding to the shiny effect of “gold” as something new that he makes.
In panel 3, there are word balloons for dialogues. The caption inside the square box introduces the reader the woman is his sister. The words appears smaller in this box, which signifies that her role as a sister is not that important to him, and that he has more authority than her. The other part of her shoulder and one leg got cut off from the scene, indicating that she seems to be a bystander looking at him rearranging the furniture in the house the way he wants. No one can criticize him; in fact, his sister admires him when she says, “AMAZING.” Her admiration indicates that there seems to be a habit in the household and that if she criticizes his action then there will be a punishment. She stands in front of him, looks at the chair that he rearranges with her hand putting near her wide mouth and compliments. She goes along with his decision, and there seems to be no agreement on her side because she does not say yes when he says, “THIS...

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