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travis' loneliness is figured through glass - everyone he meets is first

seen as an image through a window, rear-view mirror, tv screen. he's a


voyeur, a watcher, not a man of action that interacts w/others. his
loneliness and frustration leads him to become a man of action in the most
extreme form by the end of the movie, when he saves the prostitute and kills
her oppressors.

his loneliness and alienation result from his inability to communicate. he


is mostly silent, and when he speaks, he angers others or is unable to
express himself. he pisses off the man who hired him at the beginning of
the film, pisses off the lady at the porn shop, alienates betsy, is
condescended to and patronized by the senator, and cannot communicate his
feelings to his fellow taxi driver. the senator and the pimp, on the other
hand, are masters of words, master seducers, one seducing voters and the
other seducing women. (the senator even sweet-talks travis, picking up his
name and extolling taxi drivers. travis, on the other hand, is tongue-tied
when the senator asks him a question) travis is on a mission to "save" the
seduced women, betsy and the prostitute, from "hell". the pimp is
especially framed as demonic; the lighting is red when he dances with and
lies to the prostitute. their slick dishonesty contrasts sharply with
travis' socially awkward, bumbling honesty.

his hate, loathing, and frustration are directing both at society and at
himself, as he points the gun to the mirror (speaking both to an enemy and
to himself). he hates the scum, but he's also part of the scum and filth,
and fascinated by it and attracted to it. even during the day, he frequents
porn joints and tries to pick up the female attendant in much the same
manner as the sleazy johns he hates.

in the end, he's still lonely. the gratitude of the prostitute's faceless
parents are communicated by letter, much as travis communicated to his own
anonymous parents thru letter. when betsy seeks him out, one hopes his
loneliness has ended. her perception of him obviously changed from reading
the newspaper articles about him, a (mistakenly) heroic image of him
reflected by the media. ironically, travis had originally attempted to
communicate his sexual desire and desire for intimacy thru media (the porn
film), only to achieve miscommunication. he denies betsy as her desires
appear to stem from media representations of heroic men (the senator, and
later, travis), not reality.

tv and media serves as the nexus for his desires - porn, the teenagers
dancing and experiencing intimacy and sexuality, the fighting couple, the
senator. it also serves implicitly as the inspiration for his
transformation. though westerns are never shown, the machismo of the
westerns cinematic tradition permeate his new character; he wears cowboy
boots, puts on a cowboy shirt, and repeatedly practices dramatic
confrontations, challenging imaginary opponents to quickdraw showdowns. in
keeping w/the contradiction theme, his mohawk makes him look like an indian
rather than a cowboy, and the pimp tells him to go back to his "tribe".